Exploring The World Heritage Site Through Urban Games: Urbingo Liverpool. Part 2

The second part of the mobility between Jekaterina Lavrinec (Laimikis.lt – urban games and research lab, Lithuania) and Gerry Proctor (Engage Liverpool CIC, UK). The birth of the Urbingo game 'The Merchants Quarter'.

This mobility was the second in a series of two exchanges. The first took place in July on Wednesday 5th when Jekaterina Lavrinec came to Liverpool to present her ideas and share the project with an audience of about 50 people who at the end of the meeting voted overwhelmingly to invite her back to direct and produce an edition of the game Urbingo in Liverpool.

This left Engage Liverpool with about 6 weeks to try and get a team together who would meet with Jekaterina and start the process of delivering the game in Liverpool’s World Heritage site. We met for the first time on Wednesday 30th August at the city’s Quaker Meeting House where for the next 4 days we ran workshops during 3 periods each day: a morning session from 10.00-12noon, an afternoon session from 2.00-4.00pm and an evening session from 5.30-7.30pm. This was an attempt to engage with as many people as possible.

Work in progress: open discussion about Liverpool historic sites

Though Engage was disappointed with the turnout enough people attended the sessions to make good progress and in the end to deliver an almost complete edition of the game. It was a great success and on the Saturday we held a trial run of the product and 3 teams went throughout the area to try and match the cards with their actual locations.

We began by inviting attendees to go out and take photographs in each of the 4 areas of the World Heritage site in which we were working. A great deal of interest, excitement and enjoyment was evidenced in those who went out each day. A real surprise was as a result of the marketing of the event in ‘What’s On’ listings for Liverpool we had 2 wonderful tourists turn up who took part in the sessions helping us with their enthusiasm and insights. We also had some people who hadn’t quite grasped the idea from the adverts and thought they had come to play Bingo! That caused us to laugh for the rest of the week!

Important element of the game - a map of Merchants Quarter

Not only did we have volunteers working hard making the most of the days of sunshine with the photography but we also had to start the process of writing text and collecting the images into themes for each of the 4 games we had set ourselves to deliver. We also required volunteers with good IT skills who helped us to set up systems for the collecting and organising of the images which would eventually be printed onto cards. Two board members of Engage, Zarino and Paul, proved invaluable in getting us over this hurdle.

We also had the fantastic Heredia-Moezer family who turned up each day with their enthusiastic children to give us support and also insights into what would make the game work well for families. The local TV station ‘Made in Liverpool’ also came having heard about the workshops and interviewed both Jekaterina and Gerry Proctor about the project. (See the interview here, 13:31-17:09). Then by a great co-incidence when we had all retired to the local Baltic Market for food and drinks in the evening we met the TV crew again who were also there relaxing, eating and enjoying the popular location in the city!

Liverpool TV makes interview with Gerry and Jekaterina about Urbingo game

Many people turned up during the sessions each day some with experience of guiding in the city and others with an interest in history and heritage. They all contributed much to the project and helped us to clarify what we had in mind. Perhaps one of the most interesting groups was a couple from the Liverpool board game café called Sugar & Dice (Vanessa and Jason) who were excellent in the insights, ideas and expertise they shared with us. They sent another colleague (Trevor) to try out the game on the final day whose contribution was focused and appropriate.

Inside the Urbingo box
Inside the Urbingo box

This mobility was particularly successful. It was on local TV and achieved its objective of delivering a new game of Urbingo in a new city (the first in English and the first in Western Europe) and none of this would have been possible without CitizensLab and the grants made available to us for sharing experience and expertise. It is an idea which began in the Baltic countries of Eastern Europe and has now expanded into what can only be a very promising beginning in a new language and culture.

This exchange between Lithuania and the UK has proved to be invaluable on both sides. In the UK we learnt how to develop a board game that will have a big impact on the built environment and the heritage of the city and make a significant contribution to maintaining our UNESCO World Heritage Site status. We enjoyed being constrained by the licensing agreement to see what we could imbue with a particular Liverpool feel and flavour. We had a good designer (Andrew) who came to one of the sessions and went away to produce the covers for the box and the back and front of the map – all of which was ready for printing in the last hour of work on Friday afternoon. It felt like it would be touch and go whether we would ever achieve our objective but the gods were smiling on us and everything came together at the last minute. There was relief and rejoicing all around when we brought home the finished product!

Two cities - two games! Urbingo Liverpool and the original Urbingo Vilnius

The experience was mutual in the sense that Jekaterina and her company Laimikis.Lt also learnt new things and saw new possibilities as this group worked through her previously designed and agreed versions of Urbingo. Jekaterina though must have been glad to return home after such a long and exhausting workshop and she left Liverpool with a beautiful presentation of a poster designed and made in the city by two of its most famous artists the Singh twins.

The mobility has concluded but the work it began continues as Engage strives to complete the project and finish the other 3 areas of the World Heritage site game. It is likely that when 3 top UNESCO speakers arrive in the city in October to speak at the Engage seminar series: Liverpool UNESCO World Heritage Site: A Status Worth Fighting For? they will be given a copy of the Urbingo game The Merchants Quarter and who knows where the idea might spread from there!

Missed the beginning of the story?

Read here the first part of the story about Urbingo game written by Ekaterina Lavrinec.

Read more