Ayiti: The Cost of Life

In Africa, Game, Poverty on October 21, 2007 at 9:02 pm

The Cost of LifeThis is a very well designed game that I found over at World Changing.

It is about the struggle of a family of five trying to survive in rural Haiti. At the very onset of the game you are posed a question, ‘How will you play?’ Will you go for the most happiness? The greatest wealth? The best education? Or your family’s health? All of them make sense, but each has their own caveats. Then you pick what each of the family members will do for the first season. Work? Go to school? Farm? Rest at home?

At the beginning everything was going well. I had plenty of money, and one of the children was even in school. But then Marie gets a cold: Okay, you go rest for a season. Then Patrick gets bloody diarrhea while farming: Okay, so you go rest at home, too. And since Yves is in school 3/5 of the family isn’t working. Now it isn’t going so well. You are 40 Gouds in debt, and things get worse from there: hurricanes, cholera, depression. It just keeps adding up.

As things got worse, I found that I was getting pretty angry. I was yelling things like, ‘Why are you getting sick NOW,’ and ‘Why are you so depressed? You can’t even work,’ and the like. Then I realized that the point of the game isn’t really to ‘win,’ per-say, but my frustration was the point. That is exactly what it must be like to be in that situation (I can only imagine though, thank God!). It’s frustrating because nothing seems to go well. Nothing can make it better. If you work too much you get sick; if you don’t work enough you go hungry. It’s pretty much a situation of mutual assured destruction.

I encourage you to try it out, and share my frustration. It might be the best way to understand how other people live (in a very limited sense, of course). When all of your family members die, and you have no idea what you could have done differently, you’ll know what I mean.

Ayiti: The Cost of Life

  1. Jaryd, your suggestion to donate your Christmas gift to a charity is a great idea and one I know that you believe in with all of your heart. Your passion to help the less fortunate is an inspiration to all of us. As I told mom the other night on the way home from dinner as we were talking about you, Brandon and Megan, “Damn I’m proud of my family!” And that includes mom as well. I thank God for all of you everyday.

    See you at Thanksgiving.

    Love Dad

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