‘Homeless Monopoly’ is a Coventry-based game exploring the many reasons that people experience homelessness, the issues they face, and the support services that are available in the city of Coventry.
Initially funded via a joint University of Warwick and Coventry University City of Culture Open Call, it was developed in collaboration with Jackie Calderwood (formerly of Disruptive Media Learning Lab, Coventry University) and the Coventry Cyrenians, a charity that works to support those with experience of homelessness in the city. This collaboration enabled the project team to create a realistic portrayal of the problems and struggles that homeless people in Coventry (and elsewhere in the UK) face on a daily basis, as much of the game content was derived from workshops facilitated by Coventry Cyrenians with people who have lived experience of homelessness.
At a time when visible and invisible homelessness has been on the rise, alongside incidents of abusive and demeaning behaviour towards those experiencing it, the game is designed to raise awareness and encourage empathy. It aims to challenge stereotypes and develop understanding of the many reasons that people find themselves in this situation, and to foster knowledge of the various support mechanisms that exist in the city.
During the game, players try to gather resources, collect coins, and make it through real-world scenarios such as bereavement, addiction, abusive relationships and severe weather in order to get the key to their very own home. Along the way, players are invited to share their views and advice on ways forward - both for those experiencing homelessness, or those who want to help.
‘Homeless Monopoly’ is available as a table-top board game and also as a giant life-size version. To date, the game has been played by pupils from Howes Primary and Cardinal Newman Schools; students from Coventry University, CU Online and the University of Warwick; and staff from Coventry City Council. It featured as part of the Coventry UK City of Culture HOME: Arts and Homelessness festival in October 2021, and was played during the Coventry Cathedral Sleep Out, the Arts and Homelessness Summit at the Methodist Central Hall, and the Family Fun Day held outside the Belgrade Theatre. It was also part of the Lord Mayor’s Peace Committee Education Conference held at Coventry Cathedral in November 2021, and Rugby School’s 'Festival on the Close' in June 2022. ‘Homeless Monopoly’ won joint first prize for a Game in Development at the European Conference of Game-Based Learning (held in Denmark in October 2019).
You can read about Homeless Monopoly in:
Nadine Holdsworth (2021) 'Disrupting Monopoly: Homelessness, Gamification and Learned Resourcefulness', Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, 26:1, 38-52.
"Very cool interactive game, really enjoyed playing it" – player at Arts and Homelessness Summit, October 2021
"This was so much fun! But it made me very aware of how hard the world is for you if you are homeless." – player during a Family Fun day as part of Coventry UK City of Culture’s 'HOME: Arts and Homelessness' festival, October 2021
"What a brilliant game! Makes you think about real life homeless situations. I feel more educated now I’ve played it. Thank you." – player at Coventry Cathedral Sleepout, October 2021
"I don’t think these issues around homelessness are openly discussed…so this game really encouraged me to dig down on my own opinions and prejudices." – pilot player, April 2019