CC-licensed boardgame about demonstrators and cops seeks Kickstarter funds

Justin Nichol sez, "Black Flag Games is currently running a Kickstarter to produce a radical boardgame project called 'A Las Barricadas'. It is a boardgame about conflict between state police and anti-authoritarian demonstrators. It is a two-player game with each player representing one of these social forces. The theatre of the conflict is street demonstration. It has been designed to inspire tactical consideration and conversation and is being developed and designed by the Black Flag Games Collective, committed to the idea that games and interactive media can have an impact in the struggle for a free and cooperative world. We are also committed to the ideals of free culture and aim to deliver professional play experiences that enrich a participatory entertainment culture."

The game has seen light playtesting and has been in development for well over a year. We want to involve the broader community in refining and polishing the game before final publication. So as part of our Kickstarter, you will be able to sign up to receive a Playtester Prototype as a reward, which you will receive well before the final game is shipped. You will also receive surveys and a means with which to communicate issues and bugs in the game before it goes to print. You will also receive a special playtester credit in the rulebook of the game.

A Las Barricadas - A Boardgame of Social Conflict (Thanks, Justin)


    1. It sounds like it’s  intended as an entertaining and accessible “war game” for people who are already enthusiastic about popular uprisings like the Arab Spring, Occupy, and Los Indignados, rather than a clumsy political propaganda vehicle.

      I doubt a board game will change anyone’s political views, but street protest is a great dramatic premise for a game.  In fact, as the collective memory of WW2 fades, it makes sense that we should have strategy games built around the  modern themes of conflict: civil unrest and insurgency.

  1. I think I’d play as the state police because if you start to lose you just get to change the rules up.

  2. Great, a game that reinforces the idea that a protest involves a false dichotomy of “protester vs police.” I realize that it sometimes breaks down to that, but is that really the point of protest? The vast majority of protests (at least in most democratic nations, and I won’t get into a “no true Scotsman” argument here but I realize its ripe for it) do not end in police bludgeoning people with truncheons. Does it happen far too often? Yes, but even when it does that is not what the protest is about (unless its a protest against police brutality I guess). The role of the police in many protests in legitimately just to prevent ACTUAL criminal acts (violence, property damage) and even to protect the rights of the protestors to assemble (although in practice the police usually only have to protect VERY unpopular causes – think Klan rally or Westboro).  And similarly fighting the police is not the aim of 99.9999% of protesters. For every protest that ends with clubs and tear gas, many more go off without a hitch.

    1. And to be clear, I think this is a false mindset on both sides of that equation. Too many police see protesters as the enemy, and vice versa. No one needs to reinforce that.

      1. Your view of the role police have played during recent protests around the world is either charmingly naive, or willfully disingenuous. To police, ‘protest’=’public disorder’, which is something they are mandated to suppress. 

        1.  I am not unaware of gratuitous police violence at protests. My point is that this reduces the point of protest to a struggle with police, which is not the real reason for most protests and plays into the idea that protesters are a bunch of violent anarchists that would make Bakunin squeamish, and that all police are slack-jawed troglodytes just looking for an opportunity to give a hippy a wood-shampoo. Neither stereotype is useful.

        2. That’s a matter of cop culture, and while that’s the socially dominant cop culture as practiced in most departments, there are a few (a very few) departments that have learned from their histories and taken a different tack.  The local police in Madison, WI, for example, learned after the Vietnam War protests that cracking skulls didn’t solve problems.  The massive anti-Walker protests there last year went remarkably smoothly, certainly relative to the much smaller Occupy protests in other cities; Gov. Walker had to bring in out-of-town police and private security when he wanted to get heavy-handed, since the local cops were too respectful and law-abiding for his needs.  It’s possible for departments to adhere to the law and to see protesters as something other than the enemy, but they really, really have to go out of their way to train all officers to do so.  Most departments don’t, but a few do.

          1.  I’m one of the developers of the game, and this is not meant to present a false dichotomy at all. It draws on a wide variety of different protest tactics, all of which have at some point been very effective in achieving certain social objectives. We have our own views about tactics as activists (that all of them work sometimes), but if a player so chose they could play the radicals without any violence whatsoever and still win. The aesthetic of the game is somewhat militant but that does not mean a person could not abide by any of their personal principles regarding violence.

          2. Justin,

            At some point I’m hoping to design a game of the Salt Raids at Dharasana. I think it’s a good, and potentially challenging, example of nonviolent tactics opposing violent ones.

            And in this case, from one side it’s not protesters-vs.-soldiers, it’s protesters-vs.-the-salt-tax and vs.-British-rule, but from the other side it *is* soldiers-vs.-protesters.

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