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Empathy Talks

Living In An Empathetic Society

Have you wondered how it feels like to live in a society where its people are filled with empathy, versus one that is lacking in this quality?

Picture this.

When you live in a society where empathy is lacking, every action of yours that goes against the preconceived script of socially acceptable behaviour can be met with cold hard stares, mumblings of discontent, and outright audible voices of displeasure.

In such an environment where empathy is lacking, conversation is stifled, because apathy silences.

Now imagine this.

When you live in a society where empathy is part of its members’ DNA, every action of yours that goes against the grain may be met with warm smiles, gasps of surprise, and hearty laughter.

In such an environment filled with empathy, no conversation is needed too, because empathy talks for everyone.

Which society would you rather live in?

We would choose the latter.

To immerse ourselves with the good vibes that is part of positive human psyche.

To be a proponent of such nurturing chemistry preciously shared between you and me.

To be connected to this telepathic circuitry of empathy that embraces diversity.

Why ‘Empathy Talks’?

Can we still remain connected to this telepathic network of empathy when servers of the empathy network are unable to receive signals from certain members of society who are atypical, say persons with autism (PWAs) or members of society with special needs?

As we survey the current landscape of empathy servers, we would say that connectivity for these neurodivergent members is at best ‘intermittent’.

Most of us, members of society who are neurotypical, are servers of empathy.

In order for us to recognise, accept, and embrace the different members of society, telepathy alone is insufficient.

We need deep conversations to bridge the gap with the neurodivergent servers, who are members of our society with special needs.

This is why all of us at WeCreate Studio are happy to hold quarterly game play sessions of hello empathy, so that we can facilitate such conversations and to bridge this gap by guiding players to recognise the ‘signalling patterns’ of such members in our society.

If we could be more informed of their behavioural patterns and take the initiative to show empathy to them, we would also be able to detect how neurodivergent members of our society are also capable of showing empathy in their own unique mannerisms.

This mutual recognition and sharing of empathy would help us take a big step towards making our society inclusive, both in theory and reality, something that we wish to achieve.

Reaching Out to The Public For ‘Empathy Talks’

We had many ideas in mind, from the grander ones such as holding an empathy symposium at Punggol Regional Library, to an empathy design workshop, seminar style.

Eventually, we decided to focus on the essence of gameplay, which is to encourage fun learning through games and reflective conversations.

With that in mind, we started an exciting month of promotions on social media for ‘Empathy Talks’.

Empathy Talks event poster

Event poster on our social media.

Promotional video for Empathy Talks

In our message to members of the public, we called for like-minded individuals, whom we call impact advocates, to join us for a night of enriching conversations where they could explore how the power of empathy can help build stronger and more inclusive communities.

First, we reached out to individuals who were experienced or first-time players of our hello empathy card game to simply come down and join the game as we believe it’ll give them a great opportunity to hear from one another and experience the often less understood world of the special needs community through role playing the specially designed game scenarios.

We also reached out to fellow architects who may wish to find out more about the importance of empathy in architectural design and how they could take practical steps to implement empathetic thinking into their designs.

Lastly, we reached out to fellow social entrepreneurs who may wish to find out how to use hello empathy as a toolkit to onboard their staff the importance of injecting empathy into service design, that would help make their service offerings a pleasant experience for all members of society.

Eventually, we had four individuals who expressed interest in the gameplay session.

After further correspondence with them on the event details, we were all set and got them to meet up with us at our office on 12th May for a night of enriching conversations and an enlightening journey of self-discovery!

A Night of Challenging Conversations and Informative Insights

At the start of the event, we had a quick icebreaker to learn more about each other.

Explaining the origins of hello empathy to our attendees

Despite having fellow architects in attendance, we were mildly amused to find out that they didn’t know WeCreate Studio is an architectural firm. They thought that a gaming firm was offering them the gameplay opportunity!

This is definitely something for our publicity team to work on…

To let more members of the public and fellow architects within the local industry know that we’re an architectural firm for social good 😊

Team WeCreate Studio

We started off with a presentation to share about the origins of hello empathy, i.e., how it was borne out of the Good Design Research (GDR) program, our realisation of this inclusivity gap for people who are neurodivergent in society, and how it was inspired by insights from the autism community.

We made it clear that hello empathy is a conversation card game and that the aim of the game was not about which player wins or loses but a collaborative effort that allows individuals to reflect upon how they’d react when placed in situations when they can’t express themselves fully and yet seek understanding and acceptance from those around them.

The more the players are open to sharing, the more everyone learns. This is the type of win-win situation that we want for everybody to maximise the takebacks from playing hello empathy.

After running through the game instructions, we started the game proper.

As our team observed the game proceedings, we were grateful to note that everyone participated wholeheartedly. Players had no qualms about sharing anecdotes about their past encounters of similar situations and gamely role-played the scenarios which were inspired from our personal interactions on the ground with members of the autistic community.

Players sharing their past experiences.

When the time came for group reflection, players were forthcoming of the challenges they faced when placed in such unfamiliar and awkward situations.

One of the players reflected post-game that it was so hard to act out the traits and how unimaginable it was for her that PWAs have to live with these traits for practically their whole lives and have no control whatsoever on any of these traits.

Players also agreed that the scenarios embedded into the game play were good because it forced them to think about their own behaviour when experiencing such scenarios in the past and how they’d react moving forward if they were exposed to similar scenarios again.

For passive player, Lina, retracting herself was her way of protecting herself from the unpleasantness of dealing with such awkward scenarios. Playing hello empathy allowed her to peer into the crystal ball to foresee what could happen and to mentally prepare her own reactions in the safe environment of gameplay, so that she could behave in a more empathetic fashion when encountering such scenarios in future.

All in all, it was a fruitful session filled with enriching conversations filled with empathy. All attendees thanked us for the opportunity for deep introspection brought about by the gameplay, thereby ending the night on an incredibly bright note!

A jovial end to gameplay with everyone feeling more empathetic and energised.

‘Empathy Talks’ Will Be Back Bigger and Better

We would like to thank our inaugural batch of ‘Empathy Talks’ attendees who joined us for an inspiring night of empathetic conversations, and who gamely placed yourselves in the shoes of our friends with special needs.

Many of you told us that you’ve gained practical insights from the game time, reflected deeply before giving your responses, and learnt a lot about yourselves through playing hello empathy.

We’re also glad to hear from many of you, post-game, that you now better understand how empathy is the fundamental building block in fostering more cohesive and inclusive communities.

For those who missed out on this first session in May, fret not!

We plan to offer gameplay sessions quarterly, so here’s a shoutout to fellow architects, social entrepreneurs, and empathy advocates, do follow us on our Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn pages and stay tuned for our latest updates!

With experience from this first session under our belts, we’ll be hatching plans to make ‘Empathy Talks’ into a bigger and better event so that more can take part the next time round.

Thank you once again to our inaugural batch of attendees for making 'Empathy Talks' a success.

Let's spread the word on empathy and continue to build a more empathetic world together!

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