Strengthening Trans Allyship through Game design

There are many hurdles for trans people. A salient one is the lack of sufficient social support in a world dominated by cis people - those whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth. It is possible for cis people try to become “allies”, by facing their privileges and becoming more aware of both their limits and possibilities to provide support for trans individuals. However, meaning well does not always translate into genuine support. Further, allies might not always know how to behave in regards to the challenges a trans person faces on a daily basis. In collaboration with the department of neuroscience at Uppsala University, a team of research assistants, graduate students and faculty at the department of game design is exploring game design as a way to promote dialogue and awareness around trans experiences. So far, this has taken the form of  a live action role playing game as well as a board game called “Allied  Forces, the Art of Defense” in which players take the role of allies that have the charge of helping a trans person represented by the board to stay mentally and emotionally healthy throughout challenging social scenarios. 

The design team consists of both cis and trans, including men, women, and non-binary people.  Working together has shed light on the complicated power dynamics in the team. Part of the research now also revolves around exploring the ethical considerations of playing and working well together.


Conference presentations

Baird, Josephine. 2020. “The Mechanics and Misdirection of The Missing: Trans Exploration, Expression and Embodiment in Videogame-Based-Learning.” Paper presented at FROG: Future and Reality of Gaming 2020, Vienna, Austria.

Linnamäki, Jori. 2020. “An Approach to Board Game Design that Centres Allyship and Empowers Trans People.” Paper presented at FROG: Future and Reality of Gaming 2020, Vienna, Austria.

Linnamäki, Jori, and Josephine Baird. 2020. “A Reflection on the Ethical Decision-making Process during Participatory Game Design with and for Vulnerable Populations.” Paper presented at Gender Studies Conference 2020: Reclaiming Futures, Tampere University, Finland.

Current researchers

Researchers previously involved in the project​


The Games & Society Lab

Last modified: 2022-05-05