Try your hand at dismantling disparity traps with this socially conscious board game

Work with a team to dismantle disparity traps—and amass as much wealth as possible—with this socially conscious board game. It sparks conversations.

Try your hand at dismantling disparity traps with this socially conscious board game
Disparity Trap with a woman in a classroom

Take a step toward overthrowing oppression with the Disparity Trap board game. This thought-provoking, socially conscious board game has you play the game of life: the quest to accrue as much wealth as possible. But, this time, you have a team goal of tearing down disparity traps designed to keep everyone in poverty.

It’s 2021, and, unfortunately, systemic racism is still going strong in the United States. You know you need to start having those difficult conversations about race and disparity to tackle it head-on. Luckily, Disparity Trap aims to make doing that easier. It allows you to experience what life is like when the odds are not in your favor.

Disparity Trap board game
Disparity Trap board and pieces

Select your gameplay

Like most tabletop games, Disparity Trap‘s main objective is to gather as much wealth as possible. In this board game, you can opt whether you have competitive or cooperative goals.

If you go for the game’s competitive version, you simply need to be the first player to make it around the board. Otherwise, in the cooperative version, all players have to make it to Tier Three and get at least three wealth tiles.

But the cooperative version is trickier. In fact, everyone loses when there is more than one tier separating any two players. Let’s take a closer look at how it all works.

Disparity Trap in a video

Play this socially sensitive board game

Draw an identity

Just like in real life, who you are in Disparity Trap is as important as how you play. To start, you need to draw an identity. If you randomly select a Systemically Dominant card, a privilege token is yours, and you get to play first.

With each turn, you roll the dice to move forward and choose different cards that can advance your station in life. However, if you pull a Systemically Non-Dominant card, you’ll have to wait. It’ll also take you more rolls to obtain your objectives and move around the board.

Select a card

As you maneuver around the board, you’ll have the chance to choose Preparation, Opportunity, and Event cards.

If you pull a Preparation card, you could start preparing for exciting possibilities in the future, like college. Then, an Opportunity card could help you increase your chances of building wealth.

Otherwise, the Event card could help you overcome your odds and enhance your chances of success. Yet each card has a disparity factor and dice roll, which could make it harder or easier to take advantage of your opportunity.

Finally, you could play your privilege token. That token helps you advance yourself or a teammate as you play.

Check out the QR codes

What’s more, each card comes with a QR code you can scan to delve deeper into statistics on racism in America. This helps connect the game to real life and demonstrates how racism still has an impact on people on institutional and interpersonal levels.

Disparity Trap board game
Disparity Trap box

Learn and help everyone advance

This socially conscious board game is an insightful way to talk about racism with your friends and family. It’s also suitable for the classroom since it comes with a workbook that has discussion questions, journal sections, and homework assignments.

For instance, in the journal sections, the game encourages you to take a minute to write down your thoughts to keep them in mind for later discussion. And the discussion questions help you examine exactly how you got to your station in life.

Disparity Trap board game
Disparity Trap game card

Go for a board game that’s based on research

What’s more, Disparity Trap is based on the work and research of Dr. Debra Jenkins. She terms systemic racism as a framework that has beneficiaries and nonbeneficiaries.

In her research, she uses the language systemically dominant (SD), referring to those a system benefits, and systemically non-dominant (SND), in reference to those the system does not benefit for her IST of an ISM paradigm.

This language and paradigm make understanding who has systemic power—the cause of inequality—much clearer. Yet having this language helps us move forward and understand inequality as the intended outcome of oppression built into society.

Disparity Trap board game
Disparity Trap game card

Learn how race impacts all Americans

Exposing the system’s inequalities is the first step to removing them. And this socially conscious board game does it brilliantly. For people ages 14 and up, it helps players learn how the system of race affects people differently.

It gives people the opportunity and framework to have conversations about race at a level that works in professional settings, classrooms, and homes.

See how you can change systems for the better

At this point, you’re probably wondering what you can do, personally, to incite change. According to the company, Disparity Trap was created to encourage players to work together to understand systemic inequality better.

It aims to give players the chance to talk about who benefits from our current system and who doesn’t. The creators hope that this socially conscious game promotes better and more constructive conversations about race that lead to real change.

Experience life from a different perspective

Disparity Trap gives players the chance to see life from someone else’s perspective. According to player testimonials, different emotions come up as you play.

And that’s the point. Change never came about with complacency. If you love games and want to start having more constructive conversations about race, this socially conscious game is a great way to start.

You can preorder the Disparity Trap board game for a discounted price of $35 on the official website. Do you have any games or ideas on making systemic racism a topic of conversation? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Lauren has been writing and editing since 2008. She loves working with text and helping writers find their voice. When she's not typing away at her computer, she cooks and travels with her husband and two daughters.
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