Our judges played the games, and made their decisions. There were several strong contenders in every category. Each of the winners has been invited to this year’s Frontiers of Democracy Conference, where we’ll be showcasing their efforts.
Awareness-raising: Morgan Davie’s “Refuge“
Refuge is a storytelling game for 2 to 4 people. Players become refugees as they struggle to create new lives for themselves in an unfamiliar land. What might it be like to flee your home to a new land? It is a powerful testament to what games with simple rules can do to put us in the shoes of those who have lost almost everything.
Skill-building: Shawn Roske’s Last Item on the Agenda
Last Item is a LARP (a live-action role-playing game) for 4-6 people. The players are staffers at a group home for the developmentally disabled, struggling to discuss the sexuality of the residents. The game design creates a frustrating and difficult matter for deliberation, assigns roles to different players guaranteed to lead to conflict, and then asks these players to create a clear corporate policy the deal with the matter. This game was a contender for awareness-raising, but ultimately the mechanics make it particularly powerful as a tool for building deliberative skills.
Inherently Political: Mike Capron’s “Long-Term Community Organizing, Abridged.”
This is a simulation game for at least 8 people. It creates an abridged format for “one-on-one” meetings to show how such meetings can be used to create affinity groups who can work together to plan events and collective actions. It was a strong contender for “skill-building,” but the judges decided that if you played this game with people you don’t know, you’d probably end up in a political action network. (Maybe our categories are a bit too overlapping.)