World Book Week RPG: let's play Frankfurt Book Fair!

The Book Fair Game is a new open/free title from Matt Finch, a game designer with a residency at the State Library of Queensland, Australia.

The game invites kids to simulate the Frankfurt Book Fair, role-playing publishing execs who compete to acquire titles, which they then design marketing materials for. It's free to download and play.

Matt Finch: Books are hardly the only gateway we have into other worlds and other ways of knowing, but they're one of the most established and reliable. That kind of ancient magic needs to be explored freely, irreverently, and enthusiastically.

A game like the Book Fair lets children consider the book as a physical object – they even get to sniff them. It also encourages children to reflect on their personal response to a book and how others might respond to that book, too.

Playing by the book: What process do you go through when designing play opportunities which feature books?

Matt Finch: It's great to incorporate literacy into even the most boisterous play activities. During our live zombie sieges in Australia and New Zealand, the 'survivors' had the chance to evaluate fiction and non-fiction as survival aids. In another session for younger children, time travel adventures began with spotting anachronisms in mocked-up newspapers.

In our biggest trial of the Book Fair game, with 100 kids from three schools, we actually folded the activity into a day-long adventure with ninjas fighting bandits – and setting up a bookshop as part of their quest.

For me, play begins with storytelling, and books are just one of many excellent hooks on which we hang the stories that inspire play.

A free book fair game for kids to delight in
[Zoe/Playing by the Book]

The Book Fair Game 2.0 [Matt Finch]

(Image: Susie Bishop!)