Outside the Box: a storytelling card game to facilitate discussion between caregivers and children about gender, identity, and media.

There is a lack of vibrant, casual, and engaging materials that encourage open and critical discussions between caregivers and children, in particular, concerning children’s media and gender.

We believe children are active interpreters of information they receive; they should learn that as long as they do so without causing harm to oneself or others, it is all right for them and others to express themselves even if they may ultimately subscribe to ideas that do not align with the expectations of parents, peers, or society.

As a communication designer, I explored the local Vancouver community while being aware of gender segmented marketing in children’s products, developed game settings and content based on extensive secondary research, and designed a activity book to encourage intergenerational discussions of media literacy.


game design, publication design


storytelling, card game, media literacy, gender stereotypes, intergenerational learning


Tracy Ly

Game overview

In this fantastical World of Colour that exists within the game, players become powerful Storytellers who work together to create a narrative for the people of the World.

By combining the game cards and using their imagination, the players can breathe new life into old stories. They can take the opportunity to subvert traditions and stereotypes and create a truly unique story.


  • One or more players

  • Ages 6 and up

  • The goal is for the players is to work collaboratively, alternating as the main storyteller each round.

  • The game is over when the story is led to the scene as written on the Ending card that the players picked. Alternatively, they can choose to play freestyle with no ending restrictions.

  • Ideally, the game is to be played with an adult facilitator, such as a caregiver or teacher.


Character cards

The character cards are designed based on the research of stock characters frequently seen in media. The choice of colours has subtle connotations related to traditional gender attributes. However, there are also characters designed with a counter-intuitive setting in response to these biases.

Template cards

Template cards were created due to our users’ recurring request of wanting more element cards. Furthermore, the templates can become a separate activity for families to engage in and create their personal story characters.

Other cards

Object, Event, Emotion, Theme, Ending

World map

An illustrator was invited to create a map to provide more information to our world setting.



Diagrams and examples are included to guide the user step by step and make the instructions more visually engaging. Different game modes are divided into sections, allowing users to find the rules and information that they need quickly.

Simplified card

A simplified instruction card is included for users who prefer to learn the rules without examples or would like to use as a reference during gameplay.

Reflection activity


The reflection booklet is an activity book after gameplay. It requires both the caregiver and child to go through together.