Privilege [Tevin Byrd, Jonathan Beilin, Joanna Chin, Shakti Mb]

[Proof of concept / high fidelity prototype on understanding another’s POV, or experiencing a story / event from multiple perspectives]

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The goal of this activity is to ferment and facilitate conversation about the advantages and disadvantages that shape us, that shapes others, and that we carry through the world just by being ourselves. Through this, the hope is that people will become more aware of their privileges (and the privileges of others) and form new perspectives by learning how others operate and function in society.


Empathy through VR

I’ve always been weary/skeptical whenever someone proclaims that a product or project “facilitates empathy” as that term seems to be thrown around often. As someone now making a project where I’m trying to do the same however, I know it’s no easy feat. But as I checked out the Empathetic Media site etc, I thought about my only Google Cardboard experience that my roommate had me try out; I found myself in the middle of a riot/march for the Freddie Gray killing and it was an incredible immersive experience for me. The street bustling with fire, screaming citizens, armed police etc felt like my authentic reality. I found myself twice as empathetic and emotional towards something I had ALREADY cared about. For me, experiences like that are powerful and effective, but I often wonder just how far these things can be pushed ? How much empathy does it create and does that empathy lead to anything else ? Change? Dialogue ? Is there any way to control someone’s empathy ? How can these tools be leveraged for a larger more complicated context? I think there is so much rich potential here, but it doesn’t seem as heralded as I’d imagine.

Flim-Flam (Johnathan Belin, Tevin Byrd, Joanna Chin, Shakti MB)


Flim Flam is a game about BS-ing and Fronting! The definition of Flim-Flam is “non-sensical or insincere talk” or “to swindle someone with a confidence game”. Flim-Flam is a storytelling card game that subtly and humorously encourages players to explore their preconceptions & privileges.

How to Play: 

Starting off, cards are dealt to all the players (2-10). A hand might contain cards with people, places, things, or events on them (Beyonce, high school gym, knife, first kiss…)

During a turn, a player tells a personal story using one or more of the cards in their hand. If they have no cards about which they can tell a true life story, then they must lie. Other players can call, Flim-Flam if they think the player is telling an untrue story.

If the player was lying, then they must take all the previously played cards. If they were telling a true personal story, then the player that called Flim-Flam must take the cards. The object is to get rid of all of your cards.

Goal: Learn how others experience aspects of culture (To understand another person’s perspective through their experiences — a new perspective)

Mechanic: Storytelling (through the use of cards for sharing information) + Lying (swindling)

Genre: Card game / Party game

Playtest at The Point

For the playtest at the Point, my goal was to see how differently game play would be from previous playtests, to see if the mechanics still worked, and to get feedback and ideas on the categories of the game. I was able to do 2 thorough playtests with groups of 5 players and it was very valuable for me.

What I learned was that more conversation around the ideas of privilege and advantages occurs than I first thought (which is great). People really and thoughtfully spent time thinking about their lives, experiences, disadvantages, and the same for those around them in order to play the game. While some people concentrated on the game play and winning, others were more enthralled with the aspect of defining and determining privilege as it translated from reality to the game.

I had the groups help me come with ideas or feedback on the current categories of the game and in general, they felt that I should provide more examples for the categories and get specific with them and not be as broad. Besides that, the categories seem to give people better direction and focus for determining their rules.

Moving forward, I think my biggest challenge is in getting the game to a place where people can play without me having to explain much –or at all for that matter.

Power of Play

During the introductory paragraph about the concern of gaming and its negative effects and influence (considering race also) on children, the first thought that blasted in my head was “GRAND THEFT AUTO” before the article mentioned it. I played GTA when I was younger and I remember family members telling my mother it wasn’t good for me and would negatively affect me. I always took this as an insult, because I simply enjoyed driving the cars and getting money from missions and knew that nothing about the game enticed me to emulate the things I saw.

It wasn’t until later after becoming a designer that I realized why people were so concerned. The urban space and characters portrayed in the game not only paint a certain picture about people of color to the world, but it also CAN shape those small children who are building their repertoire of race, the world, what’s cool, and what’s acceptable (or not). This ties into the power and responsibility that designers and makers have: Does the work you create imply or send the messages you want to the right people in the right way? It leaves me constantly questioning myself and what I do—How do I make the project or work that I desire to, while also staying deeply informed and aware of how other people will be affected. Whether it’s a game or something else, everything we do sends a message. I want to send the right one.