In the United States, the game “Blacks and Whites” wants to beat the pawn to “white privilege” – Liberation

Reissued for its fiftieth anniversary by a duo of New York comedians, this board game inspired by Monopoly aims to awaken players to racial inequalities across the Atlantic. It is in line with “engaged” and “socially conscious” games.

In Monopoly, all aficionados know the rules, it’s about building your own real estate empire from a small nest egg evenly distributed. Each adversary, then, to find the best strategy to achieve his own monopoly ends. So it is to win the game. But the principle of the board game, a critique of land capitalism before becoming a bestseller of ludism from the 1930s, is blind to other social realities of American society, such as racial inequalities. A bias that has not escaped the notice of a former player, the professor of environmental psychology Robert Sommer, inventor in 1970 of the game “Blacks and Whites” today brought back to the table by the reissue of said game, according to the magazine Wired.

At the initiative of this project: the New York comedians duo Never Sad, Jed Feiman and Nehemiah Markos, also columnists for the New Yorker. Their goal: to awaken American players to “white privilege”, with humor and pedagogy, thanks to a formula already proven in the past. “We thought that this game could be effective in making people laugh, but also in making them think”, explains in this regard the pair, who updated the first version of the game, published fifty years ago, with its designer to bring it up to date (the election of Barack Obama then of Kamala Harris, the emergence of Black Lives Matter or the fight against police violence after the murder of Georges Floyd).

Non-gentrified zone or integrated zone

The Californian academic, Robert Sommer, who died last February, had at the time noted that the rules of Monopoly were not the most “realistic”. He had therefore thought about differentiated rules. Examples: a player who takes a white pawn starts with a wallet of a million dollars while a player tempted by a black pawn is only allowed 10,000. The cards to be drawn are also more disadvantageous for the latter. . In the new version, players who assume a black identity can only buy a home in the non-gentrified zone or the integrated zone during the first rounds. Something to make American cottages think about on long winter afternoons.

Should we see in this game “Socially conscious”, the reissue of which was funded via Kickstarter, yet another illustration of “wokism” at work – what will soon be denouncing polemicists of all stripes? In recent years, on both sides of the Atlantic, “engaged games” have flourished thanks to crowdfunding platforms. Among the recurring themes: feminism, ecology, social inequalities, LGBT issues… Extremely varied themes to pique the responsibility of the players. Knowing that a good game must remain fun to win the hearts.

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