Current Affairs

Civility!: The Game

A game of reasonable change within carefully delineated boundaries!

Introduction: In this heated political climate, it’s important to make sure, above all else, that we don’t go too far. There are right and wrong ways to do things, a fact which radicals and certain left-leaning Twitter feeds would do well to remember. Look: everyone wants to make the world a better place. We just need to be sure we’re making it a better place correctly. Welcome to Civility!, the game about enacting change while following the rules.

Civility! is a two-player game. Player 1 takes on the role of those who happen to hold power. Player 2 is trying to enact change within Player 1’s system. In order to enact change, Player 2 must complete three stages—Taking Action, Jockeying for Influence, and Moving the Levers of Power—while Player 1 encourages them from the sidelines and ensures that the rules are properly enforced. Though Player 1 has no direct involvement in Stage 1 (Taking Action), their support for the movement begins to manifest in Stage 2 (Jockeying for Influence) and Stage 3 (Moving the Levers of Power), when they start taking turns and contributing according to the rules.

Note: The goal of Player 1 is not to stop change from happening. Player 1 should approach the game as if they are completely fine with change—at least in theory. But Player 1 is also here to enforce the rules. Any dampening of Player 2’s efforts which just so happens to materially benefit Player 1 is purely coincidental.

Here’s how it works: in each stage, Player 2 must take “steps” toward change. To start, Player 2 rolls a die and follows the corresponding directions. If the directions—and Player 1—allow it, they can progress to the next stage. If Player 2 fails to advance, they must take another turn, rolling the die again and repeating the stage until they beat it (or unless otherwise specified by the directions). If Player 2 can successfully complete the final stage (Moving the Levers of Power), then the political change they desire will take place. 

Starting in Stage 2 (Jockeying for Influence), Player 1 will fully enter the game. At this point, Player 1 will go first—of course—rolling a die and following the corresponding directions. If the directions allow, they can advance to the next stage. If they are unable to advance, they must generously allow Player 2 to have a turn. If Player 1 can successfully complete the final stage (Moving the Levers of Power) then Player 2’s desired change is just not what the American people want right now.

STAGE 1: TAKING ACTION

Note: Player 1 merely offers words of support and friendly advice during this stage. Only Player 2 has to actually Take Action. To begin this stage, Player 2 rolls a single die, and then proceeds based on the number rolled.

  1. Plan An Action: Player 2 has exactly one minute after rolling to write down a comprehensive plan for a protest that will generate headlines, achieve tactical goals, and, above all, not inconvenience anyone in the area. Whether they have succeeded or failed is up to Player 1’s discretion. If Player 1 says they have failed, Player 2 must roll again.
  2. Draw a Random Luck Card
  3. Endure Setback: Oops! Player 2 has blocked someone’s commute on their way to their vacation. If they were ever going to take Player 2’s cause seriously, they won’t now. Player 2 must roll again.
  4. Organize A Rally: Something terrible has happened! Player 2 has one minute to get together enough people to command public attention—at least 100 people—and rally with them in a central space. Oh, and also Player 2 needs to get police approval for the rally, otherwise everyone will be arrested for disturbing public order. Again, success or failure is up to Player 1’s discretion.
  5. Draw a Random Luck Card
  6. Kind of a Bad Time: Player 1 says the following: “[Player 2], your cause is great, it really is, and everyone should absolutely care about this issue. But it’s right before the election, and we need to demonstrate unity right now. Let’s just all work together and wait to have the revolution.” Player 2 does not advance, and cannot roll again; they must simply wait for a more opportune moment, as determined by Player 1.

STAGE 2: JOCKEYING FOR INFLUENCE

Note: At the beginning of this stage, Player 1 writes down three words on slips of paper and keeps them hidden. If Player 2 inadvertently uses any of the words, they have, unfortunately, evoked a harmful trope and must go back to the Taking Action stage. Player 1 also now enters the game in a more active role. Player 1 may use whatever words they want. If, however, Player 1 is called out by Player 2 for using harmful tropes, Player 1 must shout “AM I BEING CANCELLED?” until Player 2 quits the game in disgust.

To begin this stage, Player 1 rolls a die. Then Player 2 will be allowed to take a turn, as long as Player 1 believes they’re not being too loud or impatient.

  1. Write an Op-ed:
    1. Player 2: You have five minutes to write an op-ed that articulates the goals of the movement, makes a passionate case for the necessity of change (anecdotes about human suffering that simultaneously titillate and tearjerk are a must), and criticizes powerful interests while avoiding “casting blame.” If Player 1 determines that the op-ed is adequately inoffensive, and the plea for change expressed with sufficient humility, it will be published in the New York Times, and a few people will be convinced to give donations and change their avatars on social media. Player 2 may then advance to the next stage.
    2. Player 1: You have 1 week to write your op-ed. No content or tonal restrictions apply. Player 2 has no ability to edit or respond to the op-ed. It is published in the New York Times. No matter the public response, Player 1 advances to the next stage and waits for Player 2 to join them.
  2. Draw a Random Luck Card* 
    1. *(Applies to Player 2 only. Player 1’s world is insulated from the winds of random luck. If Player 1 rolls a 2, they may roll again.)
  3. Endure Setback (applies to both players): Whether intentionally or not, The Troops have been disrespected. All rules regarding Player 1’s freedom to say anything they want will be suspended for twenty minutes.
    1. Player 2: Go on Jake Tapper’s show and apologize profusely. Read the entirety of John McCain’s Wikipedia page out loud and tell Player 1 your five favorite heroic facts about his life. If you are unable to be sufficiently laudatory about the life and legacy of John McCain—as per Player 1’s discretion—go back to the Taking Action stage.
    2. Player 1: Go on Jake Tapper to “clarify” your position. Skip your next turn.
  4. Go Viral:
    1. Player 2: Someone supporting your cause has become an internet celebrity! That’s great. Player 1 may now go through every single post they’ve ever made on any social media platform. If there’s nothing that can be construed as problematic, you may advance to the next stage. If there is anything problematic, your supporter is #cancelled and you lose a turn.
    2. Player 1: Someone supporting your status quo position has gone viral! They are immediately booked on Ellen, and you advance to the next stage.
  5. Draw a Random Luck Card* 
    1. *(Applies to Player 2 only. Player 1’s world is insulated from the winds of random luck. If Player 1 rolls a 5, they may roll again.)
  6. What Are Your Demands?
    1. Player 2: You have one minute to write a comprehensive list of policy goals related to your cause. If you are unable to do this, you are fundamentally unserious about politics and lose your turn. If you succeed—according to Player 1’s discretion—you must debate Player 1 until Player 1 concedes (in which case, Player 2 advances to the next stage) or Player 2 gives up (in which case Player 2 goes back to Taking Action).
    2. Player 1: You do not have any demands. You may advance to the next stage.

STAGE 3: MOVING THE LEVERS OF POWER

Note: Player 1 can end the game at this point by paying $1000 to a centrist candidate’s re-election fund. 

  1. Compromise: Both Player 1 and Player 2 have the opportunity to do a half-measure. Their choices are to accept a stalemate and walk away from the game satisfied in the knowledge that they haven’t lost, or both go back to the previous stage for being too indignant.
  2. Draw a Random Luck Card*
    1. (*Applies to Player 2 only. Again. Player 1 remains unaffected by luck because they’ve “earned everything they have.” If Player 1 rolls a 2, they may roll again.)
  3. Endure Setback:
    1. Player 2: You’ve been rude to someone who voted to strip healthcare from millions of people, and your new institutional allies are pissed. Roll again: if you get a 6, you’ve managed to build a large, successful, popular coalition and win the game despite your rudeness. Roll any other number and you’ve squandered all that hard-earned goodwill and must return to the beginning of the game.
    2. Player 1: You have a call coming from that same someone who voted to strip healthcare from millions of people. Your tee time has been moved back a half hour. I know: rude! Anyway, unless by some miracle Player 2 manages to successfully roll a 6, Player 1 wins the game.
  4. Just Wait Your Turn:
    1. Player 2: You’ve been promised change, so long as you’re willing to play along until it happens. Keep this copy of the Civility! rules until Player 1 decides it’s time to implement change, which can be any time as long as it’s more than a year away.
    2. Player 1: Same as above, only you get to keep the rules, and determine when the game begins again.
  5. Draw a Random Luck Card*
    1. (*Applies to Player 2 only. Again. Player 1 remains unaffected by luck because they’ve “earned everything they have.” If Player 1 rolls a 2, they may roll again.)
  6. Confrontation: Player 2 is close to making change happen, and they just might have the votes. 
    1. Player 2: Demand, debate, or beg Player 1 to help you. If you succeed, you win the game. If you fail, Player 1 wins.
    2. Player 1: You get to decide if you want to let the change through. If it’s irritating to you, or if Player 2 refuses to make the concessions you demand, or if you’re just feeling kind of hangry, you can reject it entirely.

Random Luck Cards:

  • Chaos: Player 1 writes down a number in secret and then Player 2 rolls a die. If the die lands on the secret number, Player 2 has done a successful vigil in a quiet corner of the park. If not, a window has been smashed and the protest has “erupted” into violence. Player 2 must return to the beginning of the Taking Action stage.
  • Balance: If the results of Player 2’s last turn were positive, they are undone.
  • Dialogue: Player 1 writes down a secret word. If Player 2 then says this word, they have gotten mean and “too personal,” and must miss their next turn. This can be the same word as one of the words from the beginning of Stage 2 (Jockeying for Influence), or it can be entirely arbitrary. Particles and conjunctions are welcome!
  • Fundraiser: Player 2 can donate $10 to a pot that will go to the eventual winner of the game, or they can boycott. If they boycott, unfortunately they will have to roll to see if they’ve engaged in hate speech. If Player 2 rolls a 1-5, they have done hate speech with their peaceful boycott and must return to the beginning of the Taking Action stage. If they roll a 6, they have probably done hate speech, but escape consequences for now.
  • Legal Challenge: The next dispute or argument between players must be resolved by determining the original intention of the rules. Player 2 has no ability to make contact with the makers of Civility! Player 1 has the burden of determining the meaning of the rules.
  • Friendly Advice: For the next turn, Player 1 gets to make choices for Player 2.

More In: Frivolity & Amusement

Cover of latest issue of print magazine

Announcing Our Newest Issue

Featuring

A fall edition loaded with surprises and wonders! With articles on: the socialist tendencies of ants, the wretched memoirs of billionaires, the malevolence of Big Tobacco, and much, much more. Plus: nude leftists! Shapes of the month! A secret DNC memo! And a comic about Chuck Schumer meeting aliens.

The Latest From Current Affairs