Meet the Game Play artists for 2021 – Mel Frances

A Quick Introduction to Mel Frances

My name is Mel – I make theatre and games. I create experiences that tell stories and offer space for people to be playful.

I am working with the Place Theatre to develop a set of live games about the economy. This sounds boring, I know! But the boredom is exactly why I want to make these games. I believe the ‘economy’ is deliberately presented to us as something that is dull, something to be ignored, because knowledge of the economy is powerful.

For those in power it is useful for us to be bored by the economy, to have no desire to understand it, because then they get to decide how the economy works, and how and when it can be used to justify self-serving actions. We are constantly told that things have to be done because of the ‘economy’ without having any idea what this means, and in this way the word ‘economy’ is often used to silence us.

Knowledge is power, power is money, money is power, and power determines knowledge, or at least education. It’s a closed loop. But knowledge is also change, and understanding the economy and importantly how the economy could work differently, is a step towards creating a world that is a little better.

The games will offer an opportunity for players to understand how the economy works (I actually think this is the BEST way of understanding something – being able to play with it, rather than someone telling you how it is), but I also want the games to be a space of imagination and creation – a space to think about what the economy could be, how the economy could work, and the role each of us might be able to play in making that change.

The piece will be for teenagers and adults to play together, and will also question the way power exists in that relationship. Who knows more? Why do we think this? Who is in power? How could that power work differently?

It will also be fun.

I’m just at the beginning of developing the games, and you’ll hear from me again over the coming months as I explore ideas, create small games to play, share my process and my questions.

Previous work

Mel is a theatre maker and a game designer.

She creates playable experiences, where audience members are able to interact, and have agency to change things. These experiences are sometimes physical, sometimes digital, often both. She is particularly interested in creating work at the ‘boundary’ of physical and digital environments.

Mel has a background in Mathematics, and lots of her work is inspired and informed by Mathematical ideas and processes. She is particularly interested in systems: political, ecological, economic… and exploring the ways these systems interact with human behaviour. She is fascinated by the ways in which these often rigid systems relate to emotions – feelings of fear, doubt, hope.

Mel is also the Co-Artistic Director of interactive, digital theatre company Produced Moon. Mel has co-created all of Produced Moon’s projects, including two sell-out Edinburgh Fringe runs. 

Produced Moon are Associate Artists at Platform Glasgow.

Photo by @_adamajalloh
Photo by @_adamajalloh