I wasn’t winning with the same strategy I used in real life. I figured even if I started out with a bad economic situation I could win on the merits of making the right moral choices alone. I was wrong. The way to win in Paul Vorvick’s newest game isn’t to save and be conservative, you need to swing high and stomp everyone else into the dirt.

When I heard that local game designer Paul Vorvick was showing “Privilege: The Game of Economic Inequality” at the New York at the Games for Change Festival I was very interested in checking it out. When he came back to Portland I contacted him and we met at a local pub so he could show me the game and talk about it. As we chatted about his trip to New York to show the game, we played a few rounds and talked about life, the universe and fiscal policy.

jdodson: You recently showed Privilege in New York at the Games for Change Festival. How did your time at the festival go? Compared to the other games at the festival, how did Privilege fit in?

Paul Vorvick: Privilege was one of very few games there that had a metaphoric theme. Most of the social good games attempt to present a problem and solution simultaneously, and often lose subtlety in doing so. Privilege didn't suggest a solution, which bothered some of the attendees. Privilege was also the only analog game ever presented at that festival, and therefore caused a bit of a stir that way. The festival contained some really amazing games, and its great to see we are all approaching the concept of social good from different angles. I hope to see more games like Privilege appearing there in following years.

jdodson: After you have seen people’s reactions to playing Privilege did anything surprise you about how people responded to it?

Paul Vorvick: It surprised me how often players were looking at Privilege without drawing parallels to real life. Often, players would confront me about some aspect of the game's design, telling me that it was flawed. My response was usually to point out that the design was accurate and it was our real-life economics that were flawed! But the process of connecting real-world experience to the abstraction of a game is very natural for me, and isn't where everyone immediately goes. I think next time I'll put in some mechanisms for making those comparisons easier and more obvious.

jdodson: At what point in the design process do you start considering the art and how the visuals will interact with the mechanics?

Paul Vorvick: Visuals are almost always the last step in my design process. I have an excellent illustrator, Cassi Boggio, who is quite happy to work with me in an already-established game. Once the game mechanics have been established, the visuals can fit into it. Often the visuals that I have planned change in order to fit with the game, but the game's design and theme is paramount.

jdodson: Do you have any Privilege expansions in the works?

Paul Vorvick: Privilege should be receiving two expansions before too long: Inheritance and Welfare. Inheritance will confront our ideas about leaving a better world for our children, and how exactly that's expressed in our society. Welfare will confront the ideas behind why we have a social safety net, when it's good and when it's bad.

jdodson: Could give us some information as to the next game you are working on?

Paul Vorvick: I've just released Pressure: The Game of Bullying on my website and on my Patreon page. I'm still running Beyond the Aether, a live theater game that is meant to provoke conversations about extremism. And I have several different ideas for what game to work on during August. Ultimately my patrons will have the most input on where I go next.

jdodson: I wonder what you wanted to accomplish when you were designing Privilege? Now that the game is in the hands of players do you feel successful in that?

Paul Vorvick: My goal with Privilege was to spark discussion and debate about our economic system and how it treats "winners" and "losers." I feel that the design of Privilege works quite well, when players are prepared to engage with it. Players who are already thinking in a critical mindset will get quite a lot out of examining the game and how it is played. It's already caused a lot of strong feelings in some players, which means I'm definitely touching on something powerful.

jdodson: I want to thank you for taking the time to talk with me Paul. Before we wrap things up, is there anything you want to leave us with?

Paul Vorvick: Thanks for your time, Jon! It's been a pleasure.

Privilege: The Game of Economic Inequality is available under a free license to print yourself and you can buy it too.

While you are feeling frisky, you can also peep Paul’s Kickstarter and more: