Being an old schooler, I know little about computer games. They are quite popular with the younger folk, but folks can still enjoy the old-fashioned family board games. You know, the ones where everybody takes turns and rolls the dice and moves around the board?
Recently, I played a new game called “Disparity Trap”, said to be the “unfair game of life”. As we opened the box, lots of black and white cards spilled out and tokens of many symbols were stacked in the box. There were tokens for college degree and startup business and home loans and some representing money.
After spending over an hour deciphering the instructions, I can tell you it took a very creative mind with an agenda to create this game. We even had to resort to YouTube to see how the game is played! The creator seeks to teach real life lessons and intends to spark conversations about those who are born into privilege and those who are not. Real statistics are printed on the game cards to support the odds of the “haves” and the “have-nots” getting ahead. From getting a college degree to getting a business loan to buying a house, there are different odds of success for players depending on their status.
From the Disparity Trap website: “The Socially Conscious Board Game provides an easy way to have the hard conversations around race & privilege in America and how they impact society in systemically dominant (SD) and systemically non-dominant (SND) ways. The game play is like many of its kind, where your individual goal is to accrue as much wealth as possible. But where it differs is that you can have a team goal as well where you work with your fellow players to dismantle the Disparity Traps seeking to keep everyone in poverty. Within this game you also step into someone else’s shoes; to experience the disparities within an identity different from your own. Throughout the game, the dice roll correlates your identity in the game to real life statistics.
So like life, the dice are in your hands, but the odds are not.”
Educators love this game because it brings into the conversation the unfairness of a traffic stop where you are more likely to get a ticket if you are systemically non-dominant, and the perks of one getting into graduate school if they are systemically dominant in society, along with many other situations. Moving up in life and getting a bank account and a home may not be as easy as you think! Some who are born into wealth and privilege may not get ahead and some who are born with little wealth can get ahead if they work hard and save… but only if luck is on their side.
As we played, we recalled other board games that we played as a family which are still popular today. Boy, don’t I wish I had been the creator of Monopoly! I wish Christian Telsmar, the creator of this new board game luck and success with his efforts and hope to see a simpler children’s version come out. Teaching social consciousness can never start too early.
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