Two players, ten coins of local currency, two minute timer. One player - One coin - Beggar - Lives in poverty. One player - Five coins - Chooser - Lives in comfort. Place four coins aside. Start the timer. Sun rises. Beggar requests coins. Pleads, bargains. Like life depends on it. It does. Chooser ignores Beggar. Defers, fidgets. It's your money, not some junkie's. You earned it. Each time Chooser makes eye contact with, or acknowledges, Beggar during timer, Chooser begrudgingly gives Beggar a coin from Chooser's pile. Timer ends: Cold night comes. Beggar: Put a coin aside. Say what food you scrounge and where you shiver sleeplessly. Put aside more if you want some comfort: Booze? Dope? Say how great it feels. Chooser: Consider how many coins to place aside. Perhaps two? Perhaps five? Describe your extravagance: Brunch? Jetski? You've earned it. Then, retrieve four coins from aside, you've earned them too. Reset the timer but not the coins, continue playing. When Beggar cannot pay a coin to eat, you starve, and freeze to death. Chooser: Place your remaining coins aside, tell the Beggar what you bought and why it was worth more to you than their life. Declare the game over. You've earned this.
Worth surprised me. I knew I’d written a game that would impact me when I played it, I knew that a game where I sat not two feet from my good friend Sophie and ignored her screams (“YOU HAVE SO MUCH, I HAVE NOTHING, JUST GIVE ME SOMETHING YOU SELFISH FUCK!”) was going to have a heavy play experience. What I didn’t expect was how I would feel the next time I walked past the homeless. The next time I stared at my phone to avoid their requests for loose change. Sophie tells me she had the same experience.
It’s hard to avoid that eye-contact, or walk past without dropping a coin, without thinking of the desperation with which I pleaded to her (“Please, just one more day. Just…just look at me, you don’t even have to say anything, just recognise that I exist.”) Homelessness is not a problem that I feel I have the power to fix, but hopefully, with this game, it’s a problem that I can help us to understand.
I would be interested to hear how it impacts you.