This guest post is written by Hub member Tabatha Soltay, an Ottawa Wave Makers 2015 inaugural microgrant recipient.

A year ago my colleague JP and I put in an application for an Ottawa Wave Makers grant. Before we knew what we were going to do, why this was an important topic, or how to make the complexity of oceans into a simple game – we had a name, Shrimps Matter – and a dream to spend the summer talking about games. We had no idea at the time how this grant would change things for us, for my company TabTalks, and for serious gaming in Ottawa.

We proposed designing and producing a board game that would teach people in Ottawa the importance of ocean ecosystems and as the summer progressed, we took our research on issues facing the ocean and tried to apply it to a game design. Some of the options we explored were too complicated, too boring, too simple, or had no learning embedded in them – and then we found our mechanism and Shrimps Matter was born!

But this isn’t a story just about building a game, it is about the community that developed because of the Ottawa Wave Makers grant. We were able to learn from others who also secured a grant, deepen our understanding of oceans, increase opportunities for others to participate, share our learnings with many people during our testing and through the launch (and we continue to play the game with others), and we made new connections with HUB members who helped us refine our mechanics, our message, and our brand.

Personally, the Ottawa Wave Makers grant deepened my learning around oceans, helped me connect with talented Impact Hub Ottawa members whom I will continue to work with and support, and provided me with a high quality product that I can share with others both as a learning tool and as a demonstration of what TabTalks can produce. I feel Shrimps Matter has helped fuel TabTalks and demonstrates how serious gaming is a viable option in adult learning.

Through the Ottawa Wave Makers grant, more people in Ottawa – young and young-at-heart – have had the opportunity to learn about oceans and how they can contribute. More than this, the microgrant has enabled a few of us to take our social enterprise idea to the next level, connecting us with a community to develop with, and launch from.


Apply Now for the 2016 Ottawa Wave Makers microgrant (Deadline: FRI APRIL 30, 2016)


Described by some as an Agent of Chaos and their General Do’er, Tabatha Soltay is a game changer, networker, opportunist, innovator and disruptive thinker focused on designing and building card games that change how we interact. A former federal public servant, Tabatha believes in public service and is using her experience to explore new ways to collaborate on complex problems, and empower individuals and communities.

Heather Ward