Social Justice Game Jam 2017 Retrospective

Game art by Pinqo

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a three day social justice themed game jam hosted by the Northwest Justice Project.

Game developers and legal advocates collaborated together to create games that educated the public about current issues including protester rights, indentured servitude, and rising rent costs.

Our team decided to focus on the unequal opportunity for success in America. Our main inspiration was the board game Life and how it sets up unrealistic financial expectations and opportunities. For example in the current version of the board game, you end the game either at Millionaire Estates or Countryside Acres. There is no option to end up poor and the game does not take your race, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic background into consideration.

We examined how different circumstances affected the level of education the player could receive and how that correlated with their monetary success.

After analyzing a wide variety of possibilities, we chose three categories in order to keep our scope and permutation table small. Our game ended up focusing on gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic class. We decided to add the hidden randomized attributes mechanic so the player could personally select ideal choices but experience the consequences of having the cards stacked against them.

Our game Let’s Do Life shows how it takes an immense amount of luck and privilege on top of work ethic to help a person move up the success ladder.

Our presentation

Overall creating this game was a fantastic experience. If we were to continue to develop it in the future, I would love to add more thorough research into demographics and statistics since we were on a time crunch and could only gather eight useful sources. I would also want to include more hidden attributes, such as orientation and disability, and also custom narrative based player-character results for each demographic set in our next build.

Special thanks to:

  • Gloriane, Lauren, Sara, Silvia, and Vivian for being such an awesome and supportive development team. Go team Fast Owls!
  • UW School of Law for providing valuable feedback
  • Living Computers Museum for hosting the game jam

Play our game below:

Click here to play

Team credits:

Art by Gloriane