Life-size game of LIFE teaches diversity lesson


Forest Quad resident assistants Rachel Arnold and Josh Herber administer hypothetical vacation privileges during a life-sized replication of the Game of Life on Tuesday evening in the residence hall. The event taught students about the power and scope of privilege in life. Luke Schram

On Tuesday night students at Forest Residence Center participated in a life-size game of LIFE.

The event was part of Forest’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebrations, which also included a trip to the Buskirk-Chumley theater on January 21 to hear a speech by Carlotta LaNier from the Little Rock Nine.

Forest Community Educator Esteban Garcia handed each player two strings of beads. Students were classified by the beads they wore, each of which symbolized a different aspect of personal identity such as economic status, race or sexual preference.

Students began at the “education” table, where RAs passed out slips of paper symbolizing a high school diploma, an undergraduate college diploma or a graduate school diploma, depending on the students’ economic status. Students wearing green beads, which signified a low economic status, were told that they could only get a high school diploma. Students wearing gold beads, which signified wealth, were offered any education they wanted.

Players proceeded to tables marked “Career”, “Family”, “Transportation”, “Housing” and “Vacation”. They were allowed to choose between four options at each table, but some choices had hidden consequences. For example, if a player was wearing purple beads, which signified that they were part of the GLBTQ community, they could not choose the “Vacation in Jamaica” option without being thrown in jail. This was meant to reflect real world consequences, said one RA host, because homosexual acts are illegal in Jamaica.

Obstacles in the game included getting pulled over for speeding, unexpected pregnancy and getting caught robbing a bank, among other things.

Throughout the game, participants received raffle tickets. At the end of the night, the RA sponsors drew three tickets to decide who would win the raffle prizes. Forest residents Jazz Bradley and sophomore Alex Leavelle both won Amazon gift cards and Rachel Brucker won a Kindle Fire.

After the game, students were asked to participate in a discussion led by Garcia. He asked them if they felt they were treated fairly in the game, and most participants agreed that they did not. Garcia said he hoped students learned something from the event about treating people fairly regardless of their personal identity.

One student participant was junior Tyler Bowers. He said he enjoyed the game and the discussion.

“I learned that the rest of the people at Forest agree with me that we’re treated fairly here in Forest and at IU,” said Bowers.

Forest RA Mischa Wee, who helped plan the event, said that the point of the event was to teach participants about unfair discrimination.

“We wanted to create awareness of how people are treated based on their identity,” said Wee. “We all have differences. Seeing past them is important.”

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