Manufacturing A Game Ethically: How We Are Producing (and Pricing) Co-opoly

Note: In Co-opoly: The Game of Cooperatives, players collaborate to found and run a democratic business. In order to survive as individuals and to strive for the success of their co-op, players make tough choices regarding big and small challenges while putting their teamwork abilities to the test. This is an exciting game of skill and solidarity, where everyone wins – or everybody loses. By playing Co-opoly, people discover the unique benefits, challenges, and operations of the cooperative world – as well as the skills needed to participate in a co-op! Co-opoly is produced by The Toolbox for Education and Social Action (TESA).

We at TESA are incredibly proud that we have been able to produce Co-opoly: The Game of Cooperatives in an ethically and environmentally conscious way. At the core of Co-opoly’s mission is a desire for a more democratic and just economy. Yet, it’s not enough to simply design and sell a game that we hope will strengthen the cooperative movement – we must also live up to the ethical principles of this movement through the manufacturing process of our game. That’s why we’ve taken the following steps:

  • All components of Co-opoly are created in the United States  (ranging from the dice to the game components and packaging)
  • The majority of Co-opoly is printed by worker cooperatives
  • The majority of Co-opoly’s components are created in New England (where TESA is based), and the majority of Co-opoly‘s components are created within 70 miles of TESA’s location
  • Almost all of the game components are printed on recycled paper or sourced through the Sustainable Forestry Initiative

As far as we know, we are the only organization to manufacture a board game in this way – meaning we are paving a road in this industry, a long tradition of the co-op world. Yet, if there was any doubt, allow us to inform you that creating a product the right way is just as expensive as it is important. Nonetheless, our goal is to provide Co-opoly at a cost for you that is comparable to other independent board games, and also allow us to continue to develop and produce Co-opoly in the future. Additionally, the surplus from Co-opoly will allow us to offset the cost of creating free educational resources that can be used alongside the game, which will be available for download on our website.

To manufacture our first pressing of Co-opoly, the total cost per unit is roughly $32 – a much larger cost than what people who have their games produced unethically pay. For example, the dice we bought, which are from one of the only companies that makes dice from start to finish in the U.S., cost $750 for 1000. In contrast, if we had bought our dice from a supplier who bought their dice in China, it would cost between $40-$60 for 1,000. And that’s just the dice! Certainly when we do larger pressings in the future, this cost will drop – but it will still remain much higher than games that depend on sweatshop labor.

We want to be able to sell Co-opoly at the most affordable price possible. Simultaneously, we must balance the need to be able to fairly compensate the many people who have worked so hard to make Co-opoly possible, ensure the continued success of our small worker cooperative, and be able to print the second edition of Co-opoly as soon as possible. With all that in mind, we chose to price Co-opoly on a sliding scale of $38 – $70 (this means you choose how much you pay), with a suggested price of $55. This cost will allow us to reinvest in TESA, fairly pay those who worked on the project, and have a solid financial foundation from which we can build the second edition of Co-opoly as ethically and environmentally friendly as possible.

One thing to keep in mind is that we aren’t actually making that much money off of each game we sell, compared to the cost and time that goes into Co-opoly’s production. However, one advantage we have is that TESA is a worker cooperative – meaning we don’t have shareholders or a couple people at the top looking to reap as much profit as possible. Instead, the people who work in the business own it together equally, and so the amount we need to earn to consider a product “successful” is much less than what a normal corporation would “need.” In essence, our worker cooperative nature gives us the ability to spend much more on the production of the game to ensure both people and the planet aren’t exploited in the process. This means that we’re able to live up to the mission of Co-opoly every step of the way.

If you have any questions or are interested in learning more about the cost or production of Co-opoly, please contact us at info [at] coopolygame [dot] com. Purchase Co-opoly at our online store!

More Information

Why Sliding Scale?

We’ve set a sliding scale for Co-opoly for a few reasons:

  • We want to ensure Co-opoly is as accessible as possible to people and groups across socioeconomic lines. This means making our price ranges flexible. In addition, if someone purchases Co-opoly at a higher rate, it will allow us to more easily offer the product for affordable rates to those who need them.
  • People should have some say in how much they value a resource and therefore how much they want to pay for it.

Buy Co-opoly Here!

Help Us Get Co-opoly into Schools, Community Groups, Organizations

We have started a fund that will allow us to provide Co-opoly for cheap or free to schools, community groups, and other organizations who might otherwise be unable to afford the game. If you are interested in contributing to this fund, click here.


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!