Northern Ireland news

Educational board game on Troubles to be launched

The Troubles: Shadow War in Northern Ireland 1964 - 1998, by Compass Games
Connla Young

THE creator of a new educational board game that focuses on the Troubles hopes that it will be an important learning tool.

The Troubles: Shadow War in Northern Ireland 1964 -1998 is set to be launched next year.

Themed on the most recent conflict and the years leading up to it, the game, which can be played by up to six players, has been developed by Port Glasgow High School english teacher Hugh O'Donnell.

The former programmer revealed that while completing a masters degree a number of years ago he became aware that stories can be used a powerful learning tools.

"In 2015 I started to look at board games and using them in the classroom as something new, as something that would support the kids that are probably less confident, less vocal, allowing them.... to show their learning, show their literacy and their confidence by playing these games," he said.

As part of the game players can choose to control a faction, which includes the Provisional IRA, loyalists, security forces along with nationalists and unionist politicians.

Mr O'Donnell said one aim of the game is to force people to consider their actions.

"Games are generally fun, this thing has not been designed for fun, it's been designed as a table top simulation that challenges, because of how sensitive the topic is, just like a film or a book or any sort of academic paper, this is to try and give a physical environment that forces people to consider the consequences of the things that they are carrying out," he said.

"And using the stories to try and immerse and involve those that are playing to inhabit that world and to look at it critically and rigorously rather than here is a board game - 'right who's going to the IRA who's going to the loyalists' and the first person to expunge the other is the winner."

Mr O'Donnell says the game is set up to ensure that paramilitary groups are unable to win outright.

"The paramilitaries can't win," he said.

"They can't win unless they are brought to peace.

"Again there is an engineered peace model there as well."

Belfast historian John O'Neill has written the foreword in a detailed historical supplement to accompany the game.

The Troubles: Shadow War in Northern Ireland 1964 -1998 by Compass Games is available to pre-order now.

For more information please visit www.thetroubles.uk or go to Twitter @thetroublesuk.

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