7 resistance-themed board games to strengthen your injustice-fighting skills

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Rise Up! Game of People & Power

The newest game, clocking in at just over a year old, is the fruit of the TESA games crew, otherwise known as the Toolbox for Education and Social Action. In Rise Up! Game of People & Power, all players are on the same team, running different parts of a movement struggling to beat “The System.” To start, pick an issue or focus story to work on: It could be something realistic like a government anti-corruption campaign, or something imaginary like “justice for baby dragons.” Everyone wins, or loses, together. The game develops tension as “The System” fights back when players draw a System card after each turn — delivering arrests, infighting, infiltration, surveillance and other impediments large and small.

Do play this if you want to explore the trials and tribulations of organizers and activists working together on a campaign that you create. Coming up with your campaign (or focus story) together is a great entry point for non-organizers or new activists to immediately engage in the play. It is also a key way to address the big challenge of educational games: how to make them actually fun to play, as opposed to just a powerful training tool or exercise.

Rise Up! runs well with five players, or can be played with a minimum of two (but that isn’t as much fun). Set aside an hour to an hour and a half. Young and old can strategize together, pondering whether it’s more important to add members or reach a new constituency, organize on the internet or work with media. Just watch out — you might end up in some real world arguments about the most effective tactical choices. Also, if you end up in jail, or the hospital, the game could end without you getting released. That’s why I’d recommend adding a rule that says winning is not possible unless everyone is home from the clink or the hospital. A big plus, however, is that the set includes two game boards, one for standard play and one that’s more simplified.

Rise Up! gets extra points for its ethical production standards, having been produced almost entirely by worker cooperatives in the United States, with environmentally-friendly materials.

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