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By Max Erickson
News Editor 

Game reveals government process in easy, fun way

 

August 9, 2017



A contentious 2016 election cycle inspired a White Salmon couple to develop a card game that simulates the political functioning of U.S. democracy with the hopes of educating people on how our government works and to stimulate action by voters to become more involved in the election process.

“Checks and Balances: The Game of Modern American Political Democracy” was invented by Sasha Bentley and her husband Chris Bentley in April of this year with the goal of bringing people together in a fun accessible way that spurs political debate and conversation, giving people a better grasp of how our democracy works.

Sasha, who holds a Bachelors of Arts in political science, and Chris, an engineer, came up with the idea after the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump. They wanted to learn more about how our government works and find a way to teach others about the importance of participating in the political process.

“The game is important for everyone.” Sasha said. “It helps people learn what their representatives do and will hopefully get people involved in the political process, especially in their own local governments.”

It is a two player game modeling the actually 2016 republican and democrat political platforms with the use of cards representing voters, elected officials, legislation cards and action cards that are used to either veto or pass legislation.

A player wins when passing three pieces of legislation—on one of the party’s platforms— through the house, the senate and then signed into law by the president; or a law is established by executive order, coinciding with a platform card from one of the two parties.

“I didn’t know a lot about how our system worked before this game,” Chris said, “but it really shows how the legislative process works, how majorities work and the power of the presidential veto.”

A Kickstarter campaign was launched Aug. 8 to generate funds for a large production run and to help cover business expenses. It is a 30-day campaign that with plans for a west coast “playing tour” to the San Francisco bay area to get a feel for how the game is received, spreading political awareness and educating people.

“This game would be great for educational institutions,” Chris said. “It’s a way for kids to learn about government in a safe and fun way; for people to find common ground on things they agree on.”

Sasha says she has received good feedback from teachers when she presented the game to them and says there isn’t a game like this on the Market.

“We really believe in it and it doesn’t compare to anything,” Sasha said. “It shows voters the ebbs and flow of political power, but also how important their vote really is.”

By pledging to the Kickstarter campaign you can part of the player educational reward level.

With a pledge of $60, you will receive a first edition copy of the game and one copy of the game will be donated to an educational institution of your choice.

With $90 donation you will receive a first edition of the game, donate a copy of the game to an educational institution, and $25 of your contribution will be donated to the League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan, nonprofit voting rights organization.

Smaller donations are also encourage to build funds for a mass production of the game scheduled for October.

“If people can learn as much as I have, it will be success,” Chris said.

If you are interested in donating to their Kickstarter campaign and learning more about Checks and Balances visit the website at http://www.checksandbalancesgame.com.

 

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