University of Glasgow academics design board game to explain law on marriage



University of Glasgow academics are developing a board game to help the public negotiate the complex legal world of marriage.

The new board game prototype is being unveiled today and is called Legally Wed. It has been inspired by the work of academics at the university’s School of Law – Professor Jane Mair, Dr Frankie McCarthy and Felicity Belton.

The academics have drawn on their research in family law and the personal wedding stories of family and friends to create the game’s tasks and challenges, which mirror real-life wedding mishaps on the way to the big day.

Players will have to race to plan their wedding and be first up the aisle to win the game. Along the way, in addition to choosing venues, food, outfits and the other trappings of a modern-day wedding, players must complete all the steps required for a legal marriage. If not, no matter how good they look in their Insta story, they will end the day without a spouse.

Professor Mair, head of the School of Law, said: “Around 30,000 wedding ceremonies took place in Scotland last year, and with the advent of same sex marriage and legal recognition given to humanist wedding ceremonies, the choice to get married is open to a greater number of couples than ever before.

“However, the legal consequences of marriage – and the legal differences between marriage and long-term cohabitation – are poorly understood. Our research has explored how the law regulating marriage, divorce and cohabitation is applied in practice by the courts, solicitors and other legal practitioners in Scotland.

“To date, our impact work connected to this research has been focused on policymakers and legal practitioners, but we are keen to expand its scope to include the general public. Through a partnership with industrial collaborators, and thanks to funding from the University of Glasgow we can now explore the potential of games as a medium for changing public understanding of the law.”

The team received funding from the Economic and Social Research Council Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) Business Booster Fund to develop their board game prototype.

Dr McCarthy, a senior lecturer in law, said: “We weren’t trying to make a game initially. But we have always been interested in different ways of engaging our students in the area of family law we all work in.

“For example, our first year family law course is assessed by a case study where students have to give legal advice to a family who encounter increasingly ridiculous (but fairly real-life) scenarios throughout the semester. We like it because it requires the students to provide very detailed and accurate legal advice. But it is a bit like a soap opera or a very dysfunctional Mills & Boon serialisation.

“In 2016 we took part in a public engagement festival to engage with our law research and the idea of a board game evolved as a simple and eye-catching idea which would be fun and interactive.”

Ms Belton, research & teaching associate, said: “Games and puzzles have been around for centuries: they are fun, they are educational, they are inter-generational, and they are a focus for creativity, communication and cultural development.

“While recent decades have been dominated by computer games, ‘old-fashioned’ board games are currently experiencing a revival.

“We think this new board game is a great way to help raise public awareness of some of the complexity of the law around marriage.”

The team will continue to develop the prototype and hope it will be available for sale in 2020 for the public.

Tags: family law, UoG



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