In a short simulation game the participants experience the inequality and injustice of how wealth is distributed in our world.
- to develop an understanding of the injustices that result from the unequal distribution of wealth and power
- to reflect on how the distribution of wealth is linked to factors like age, ability, access to information, heritage etc.
Set up the room by putting the chairs in a circle. Leave some empty space in the middle.
Step by step description
Step 1: Introduction (5 minutes)
Explain that this game is a simulation. The participants will distribute the world's wealth among themselves. The coins do not only stand for money, but they also stand for housing, food, schooling, health care, political influence and more.
Step 2: The Scramble (5 minutes)
- It is the aim of the game, to get as many coins as possible. There is one rule: it is not allowed to touch any other person at any time during the game. Say and show this rule by acting it. There is a punishment for breaking this rule, e.g. taking 1 to all coins from the rule breaker.
- There are a number of special players:
- Take 20 of the coins and distribute them to 4-5 of the players.
- Give 4-5 players a pair of socks. They must put the socks over their hands and keep them on until the game is over.
- Postpone any discussion about the reasons for this to later.
- Scatter the 100 coins in the middle of the circle: this is the world's wealth!
- On the word “go!” all players try to grab as many coins as possible. This only takes 1-2 minutes.
- After all coins have been collected, ask the players to count their coins.
- Now ask them to stand and step forward into the circle.
- Re-seat all players according to how many coins they were able to gather: call out the number and seat them around the circle starting with those without any coins all the way to the richest player.
Step 3: The debriefing (10-15 minutes)
Remind the players that the coins represent their wealth and power in the world. The amount of coins they have influences their life strongly. Read and show the 3 prepared posters (see annex). Thereby focus especially on each of the three groups as you read out the information. This can strengthen the personal response to the information.
Ask the participants to briefly share some feelings after hearing their economic situation. What does it feel like to be in this place? Do not discuss at this moment, just hear different voices from all groups to support the experience.
Step 4: The reflection (15-20 minutes)
Ask the participants to sit together in small groups of 4-5 people, possibly with others in the same economic group: Have-s, Have-Some-s, Have-Not-s.
Read out the questions for reflection (also written on flipchart poster for easier understanding and the possibility to refer back later on).
- How do you feel about how you got the coins? How do you feel about how they were divided? Was everybody treated fairly?
- Who was at a disadvantage (e.g. the people with the socks)? Who do they represent in our society?
- Who are the Have-s and Have-Not-s in our world / our country / our school?
- Do you think there should be a redistribution of wealth and power throughout the world? Why or why not? How would you do it? What principles guide you in this decision?
Step 5: Collecting Insights / Discussion (depending on time frame, minimum 10 minutes)
Go through the questions and collect some outcomes from the small group discussions.
Hear other voices on the same topic, support participants to engage in the discussion.
Step 6: Closure (5-10 minutes)
Collect a few “aha!”-moments from the participants that sum up their insights, learning and questions they go away with.
Possibly show part of the clip “If the earth were a village” (see below under further tips).
Each participant gets one chocolate coin to eat, all the rest are given back.
Reference / original source of the method
The activity is an adapted version of the first part of “The scramble for wealth and power” published in “Compass – A Manual on Human Rights Education with Young People” and was facilitated by Katrin Lüth at the aces Kick-Off Meeting 2013 in Bucharest. Find the description of the whole original activity here.
To see the entire Compass Manual go to: www.coe.int/en/web/compass/
Further tips and resources
For further discussion you might want to use data that explain statistical facts about the world population by downsizing the numbers. It uses the metaphor “If the world were a village of 100 people” and through this makes data more accessible.
Miniature earth project: http://www.miniature-earth.com or go to Youtube and type in “If the earth were a village”.
More visuals along the same idea done by the graphic designer Toby Ng:
„The activity gives you an excellent feeling about how the power and wealth are actually situated in our world. The rule of not touching any other person simply can not be obeyed because lust for the chocolate aka. money is just to big.“
„Very fun, simple and easy to do, yet, always very shocking for the participants. Even as a student I was able to lead this workshop at one of our student exchanges!“