The Aspiration Game with snakes and ladders surrounding the text.

The Aspiration Game is an interactive board game based on snakes and ladders that helped young people consider what factors hindered and supported their aspirations.

The Aspiration Game was created as part of the Aspiration in Whitley research project (2017–2018) by students at the John Madejski Academy. The students led key parts of the research, as the Young Whitley Researchers.

The Young Researchers chose a range of symbols to add to the traditional snakes and ladders board. Players who landed on these symbols were invited to consider and discuss any factor – event, circumstance or incident – that had some impact on their aspirations.

Around 70 young people were involved with playing the game – with all games led and supervised by the Young Researchers. The game appeared to be a simple and effective way of getting people to talk things through, and think about where improvements could be made. It also helped students to express how they felt and – as some students put it – the process gave them a voice.

An important part of this activity was to ensure that all players were prepared prior to starting the game, particularly around the idea of ‘aspiration’ – what does it mean and why is it important or useful, if at all? Group discussions about this took place before the games started and the Aspiration Game was played in the context of a careers or futures guidance programme.

Posted as reminders, students’ words – such as dreams, aims, goals or ambitions, were captured by researchers and displayed as prompts throughout the course of the game. The game can be played over a course of several years to help monitor students changing preferences.

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Who took part?

  • Around 30 students from the John Madjeski Academy, in years 7, 8, 9 and 10.
  • Around 20 year 8 students from Reading Girls’ School (RGS).
  • Children in years 1–6 at The Palmer Academy.

Download the game’s instructions (.pdf)

Contact Dr Sally Lloyd-Evans to gain access to the full Aspiration Game toolkit.