Engaging Your Radical Imagination with Game Changer: The Game of Activist Tactics

Our latest game, Game Changer, was designed by Felicia Perez, former high school history teacher and current community organizer, author, public speaker, activist, and educator. 

Thanks to her passion for building the concept of community organizing and power, this past year she collaborated with us at The TESA Collective and the organization she was previously a part of, the Center for Story-Based Strategy (CSS), to create the fun, collaborative card game, Game Changer: The Game of Activist Tactics, which helps players engage with and expand their radical imagination.

Since we first released the game back in April, we’ve heard from people about how much fun they’ve had with Game Changer as well as how it’s sparked powerful and engaging conversations. So we wanted to give you all a little behind the scenes on how this project came together as well as a breakdown of the concept of radical imagination.

And if you feel like watching/listening instead of reading: Here’s a fun conversation we had with Felicia about the game and the ideas behind it, including what exactly radical imagination is and how you can engage yours.

Game Changer in Brief

Game Changer: The Game of Activist Tactics is a fast, fun card game that spurs players to use their imaginations in order to create the best activist strategy in each round. It’s composed of 230 Power Cards (tactics and actions), 45 Goalden Cards (prompt and scenario cards), and 25 Game Changer cards (cards that shake the gameplay up). It’s suited for 4-8 people and takes about 45 minutes to play. 

What is Radical Imagination?

According to Felicia and the CSS, radical imagination takes the ordinary constraints of life’s situations and temporarily removes them. It allows us to imagine that anything is possible and that we’re capable of achieving any outcome. Radical imagination allows individuals to look at the world through the lens of asking, “what do I need to do to meet this exact moment?”

History has shown that the ability to imagine change is the only way to begin grasping a path toward progress. And so the concept of radical imagination carries with it three key features:

  1. Radical imagination is what we do together.
  2. Radical imagination is rooted in place.
  3. Radical imagination is time-travel, letting us look into the past and toward the future.

Employing radical imagination is the best way to create a space for what’s possible without current restraints (time, people, funding, etc.) getting in the way.

Collaboration Between the TESA Collective, Felicia, and The Center for Story-Based Strategy

Even before the pandemic spread across the globe, we were discussing the concept for this game, which was based on another game idea Felicia had been working on previously.

After some back and forths, we decided the initial goal was to create a game that focused on two things:

  1. Getting players to know their audience
  2. Help players use radical imagination to envision making strategic activist choices

The goal was to target people who wanted to expand their knowledge and practice organizing, then present them with scenarios to see how they could achieve the change they wanted to build in the world. 

How Game Changer Engages People’s Radical Imagination

One of the key goals of Game Changer is to inspire players to use their radical imagination to create different activist, organizing, and direct action scenarios during gameplay.

Practicing the development of this real-world skill inspires players to consider outrageous possibilities, but in a way that allows them to see these ideas becoming realities. 

This type of imagining can help people overcome the three natural reactions we fall into when faced with difficult situations: fight, flight, or freeze.

There is no way to imagine an alternative world, one based on justice and equity, with any of these three reactions, and instead, we need to learn how to look at difficult situations as an opportunity. During situations that cause the most constriction and strife, we usually stop imagining a way out. Unfortunately, the people who create these situations rely on this because a lack of imagination keeps us in our figurative place. 

Take voting rights for example. Certain lawmakers are trying to make voting an uninviting and unpleasant experience to discourage people from voting. However, if we imagine an outcome that makes voting a celebratory experience, we are going to push even harder to keep our voting rights. 

Game Changer encourages the flexion of our radical imagination muscle. We have to keep exercising that muscle so that we can always imagine and then build a better world.

Support Our Work

TESA is proud to lead the development of games, tools, and programs for social change. You can support our work while having fun: buy our games about changing the world. TESA can also work with you to build a game, program, or tool for your cause!