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Loser. Therapeutic game about losing appreciated at Global Grad Show in Dubai

Dobrawa Bies
04 of January '22

Anna Gwiazda, a graduate of the Faculty of Design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, is a finalist in the Global Grad Show - a worldwide review of design diplomas. This year, out of more than 2,600 submitted projects from 464 universities and colleges, from 70 countries, the competition jury selected 150 projects, and among them was the therapeutic game Loser, designed by the Pole.

The global review of the best diplomas is held every year during Dubai Design Week. Launched in 2015, the Global Grad Show is a program for graduate students from universities around the world whose projects, research and ideas offer solutions to important social and environmental problems of today's world, in fields ranging from biomedical engineering to design.

Przegryw wykonany jest
ze sklejki Detal Przegrywu

Partition is made of beech hardwood plywood and non-toxic paints

© Anna Gwiazda

therapeutic game about losing

Loser is a therapeutic game realized by Anna Gwiazda as a master's degree in the Design Studio of Dr. Pawel Grobelny at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts. The project supports the development of emotional stability by drawing attention to the problem of downplaying the emotions that accompany losing. Designed by Anna Gwiazda, the therapeutic object allows, based on the rules of the game, to externalize emotions and social attitudes in a therapeutic session.

The feeling of defeat is a basic emotion, just like happiness or sadness, but it remains downplayed by educational systems and is still taboo in many aspects of everyone's life [...]. I wanted to consciously support anyone who loses in a systemic way, because the feeling of failure is natural and common. I decided on the form of an analog game, which allows to translate emotions from the real world to fantastic realities, because we all know how failure can hurt, even if it's just a game,? - explains the author.

Przegryw po frotażu

The project supports the development of emotional stability by drawing attention to the
to the problem of downplaying the emotions that accompany losing

© Anna Gwiazda

interview with designer Anna Gwiazda

Dobrawa Bies: What inspired you to create Losers?

Anna Gwiazda: The inspiration to create Loser came from the mechanisms of how people function in modern society. Our world is created by and for winners. Capitalist realities cannot function without losers, while at the same time providing no place for them. Everyone loses, but few can do it in a healthy way. The loser takes all the responsibility for defeat, forgetting that he is a pawn in many structural conditions, such as gender, age, or race.

Admittedly, we only recall victories, but it is from mistakes that we learn the most. However, it is believed that victory belongs to the present and defeat to the past. We strive for victories that give us short-term satisfaction. We forget that we learn the most while striving for more successes. I think it is important to give people back their creative, imaginative prowess, because if we dare to dream, it means we are able to look beyond the horizon.

I was interested in the methods of coping with failure that we pass on to children and their impact on later adult functioning. After studying the literature on child psychology and pedagogy, I realized that parenting is about helping children become adults, not constantly correcting them.

Przegryw, plansza
pokolorowana Fragment gry

The author used laser and UV printing

© Anna Gwiazda

Dobrawa: What was the game made of and how did the choice of materials affect its appearance?

Anna Gwiazda: The entire platform is made of beech hardwood plywood, as are the interaction cards and character stencils. The paints used are non-toxic acrylic paints for wood. The entire mechanism of platform rotation is based on a ball thrust bearing located in the leg of the platform. In addition, the designed magnetic resistors stop the platform every 120 degrees, and the slats placed in the leg make an attractive mechanical sound reminiscent of the wheel of fortune. To place the printed grid sheet on the platform, the top podium must be removed from the mandrel. The sheet of paper remains stationary as the platform rotates, thanks to the attractive properties of the ferromagnetic steel foil and the magnetic foil between which the paper is placed.

The technologies used were laser and UV printing, the shapes of the paper sheets used in the model were cut on a CNC milling machine. I was keen to minimize production costs because of the target customer interested in buying the platform, namely state therapeutic institutions, state schools, psychological counseling centers. The required technologies are widely available and all operate in wood and plastic processing plants, as well as in advertising printing houses, which further reduces costs and benefits the availability of the project. In this way, the production of the project could be openly licensed and reach state psychological care facilities in the smallest centers.

Trzech graczy wykonuje
frotaże pomieszczeń

Three players make frottages of rooms, within a view resembling a cross-section of an apartment block

© Anna Gwiazda

Dobrawa: How does the gameplay work and what are the benefits to users?

Anna Gwiazda: Loser is a therapeutic object that supports the development of emotional stability, which allows on the rules of the game to externalize their emotions and social attitudes during a therapy session.

Three players make frottages of rooms, within a view that resembles a cross-section of an apartment block. The players then trace one of six suggested characters. In each room, one of two assigned events can happen: both positive and negative, but mostly ambiguous and leaving a wide field of interpretation for the players. In addition, social interaction cards can be used, which allow interference in another player's block space.

The game is unpredictable, based on chance. By actively deciding the fate of selected characters, users become attached to them and translate emotions from real life into the reality of the game. Honest reactions provide valuable context for the therapist observing the gameplay, because we all know how failure hurts, even when it's just a game.

The game cannot be won or lost because it does not pursue an imposed goal. Users decide for themselves when defeat occurs. If we learn a healthy mechanism for dealing with small failures, we will be able to face global challenges as well.

Przegryw po
skończonej grze

this game cannot be won or lost

© Anna Gwiazda

Dobrawa: Do you think good design can contribute to changing lives?

Anna Gwiazda: I see both in responsible design for children, at the most sensitive moment of human development, and in objects for adults, an opportunity for global change. I also see design as a medium for addressing social issues through speculative design and critical design. We function among objects naturally and interact with them reflexively, which is why objects are such an evocative medium for triggering discussion. I want to support and develop people through my projects. Interdisciplinary design is still a novelty in Poland, so it remains a wide field for exploration.

Dobrawa: Thank you for the interview.

Dobrawa Bies

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