The Game of Struggle: Introduction

shutterstock_393025615Recently, I experienced a fair bit of childhood nostalgia as I played a round of The Game of Life. The game has changed substantially over the decades, but the principles remain simple. You are the product of a combination of your choices in life and the fortune or despair that can find you with the random probability of a little plastic spinner. While the game is different than it was during my childhood, the fundamental problem with The Game of Life remains the same: Nothing about it is realistic.

The Game of Life had a substantial opportunity to somewhat accurately reflect the trials and tribulations that an average life entails. With income inequality being more pronounced than any other time in recent memory, the game could have incorporated what we’ve learned through our continuous public discourse concerning privilege. Few words have occupied such a unique place in millennial minds as “privilege”. The concept has helped us to understand our place in the world relative to those who may have more or less than we do.

I understand that I’m making a bigger deal out of this than it really is. A board game is supposed to be entertaining, and I wouldn’t blame the creators if they did not make a single change to it. However, I am curious what would happen in a different game where, instead of contributing half your net worth to get a college degree, you incur a substantial negative net worth in order to get the same thing. A game that really reflected our reality would not let you choose your path. Instead, it would be determined by random chance, as it is so often is in real life.

As a result, I will be writing a series of posts under this hypothetical. It’ll be called “The Game of Struggle”. The two paths will be called “The Privileged Path” and “The Disadvantaged Path”. On a spinner with numbers 1 through 10, every number except 1 will result in the player being placed on The Disadvantaged Path. Also, if you spin a 1, you have to spin again until you get ten 1s in a row. If you fail to get ten 1s in a row, you will be placed on The Disadvantaged Path anyway. I’ll write posts from both perspectives, and we can see how different such a game would look from the ones we enjoy playing with our friends at kitchen tables. See you soon.

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