Beer Mat(e)s



The ‘Men in Pubs’ project- funded by University of Bristol’s Brigstow Institute– focused on pubs as important social spaces in the lives of men 65+ and the ways in which these spaces can help alleviate loneliness and social isolation in later life.


One emerging theme from the project was the use of games as a platform for initiating social interaction between men accessing pubs. We created games on beer mats as an intervention to connect men and to initiate conversations in pubs.



We researched historical games, following on from our learning in the making of ROMANS! and experimented with the opportunities and limitations beer mats could offer- we didn’t want to add pieces so encouraged the players to use objects to hand as playing pieces- nuts, polo mints and coins for instance. We needed simple games that could be explained in a few lines, but that would be satisfying to play. In regards to design aesthetic, it was important that the graphic style was strong and not gimmicky, we steered towards an traditional yet stylish font and colour scheme, hinting at pub colours- red wine, soft rich furnishings, old wood.

“Mufti Games have been a critical collaborator on this project throughout. Malcolm’s enthusiasm, energy and creativity as a game designer has been critical to the success of the project. We had not anticipated exploring games as a point of interaction when we set out on this project and Malcolm’s input has taken us in this new direction.”

Dr Paul Willis
Senior Lecturer in Social Work School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol



The beer mats were distributed to pubs linked to the research project in small batches but demand was very high and print runs were made for Men in Sheds charity and CAMRA. Bristol Beer factory offered to distribute them in all their pub’s and the project received interest from ITV news and local press. We are looking to expand the engagement of this project, do in get touch if you would like to get involved.

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