Co-opoly, The Game: Everyone Wins or Everybody Loses

Some enterprising folks in the cooperative movement are in the final stages of perfecting a new board game, “Co-opoly: The Game of Cooperatives,” which they dub as “an innovative way for aspiring and existing cooperators, as well as other interested parties, to learn about co-ops and to practice cooperation.” The project recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise $8,800 to finish the design and production of the game. Co-opoly is being produced by the Toolbox for Education and Social Action (TESA), a Northampton, Mass, “publisher of participatory resources for social and economic change.”

The first edition of the game is the “workers' cooperative edition.” Future editions are planned for grocer co-ops, artisan co-ops, housing co-ops, and others. As the game makers explain: “These different iterations will address the specific characteristics of each type of cooperative. In this way, we aim to develop a series of games spanning the vast cooperative world. Each new edition (or 'expansion pack') will be available at a very low cost, as the same board will be able to be used for each version of Co-opoly -- they'll just need new cards.”

As you might expect, the game of Co-opoly turns the tables on many of the premises of its counterpart, Monopoly. Here, players must collaborate in order to found and run a democratically managed business. The promo blurb puts it this way:

This is an exciting game of skill and solidarity, where everyone wins – or everybody loses. Will the Point Bank continue to dominate the players’ lives, or will they break free and take control by jump-starting the movement for a truly democratic and cooperative economy? By playing Co-opoly, players will learn about the unique benefits, challenges, and operations of the cooperative world - as well as the skills needed to participate in a co-op!

In the game, if one player is forced to go out of the game, then everyone loses the game.  One tester for the game testifies that the game “effectively simulates the experience of collaborative decision-making that a cooperative workplace must go through, it implements innovative gameplay dynamics with its 'everyone wins or everyeone loses' approach, and it is genuinely a lot of fun to play! It's a perfect mix of education and classic gaming tense decision-making.”

It will be interesting to see if Hasbro, the maker of the board game Monopoly will try to take action against Co-opoly for trademark infringement. It would be so true-to-life, and educational.  Maybe the TESA people could do a spinoff that emulates the battles between the record industry and file-sharers, and between Hollywood and free culture remixers and mashup artists, in which people have to choose whether to use a Creative Commons license, and the game actually produces a winner. 

For those who want to learn more about coops, TESA points players to a website, Cultivate Coop.  Here's hoping that Co-opoly does well once it is rolled out to the world!