'Go directly to a homeless shelter': game gives taste of life on the street

Thu Sep 8, 2016 11:32am EDT
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By Maria Haase Coelho

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - If being sent to jail without passing 'Go' or winning second prize in a beauty contest make "Monopoly" feel oddly detached from real life, a new board game - about homelessness - gives a more realistic taste of the cruel twists of fate.

"While you slept at a homeless shelter, someone stole all your money," reads one card in the game "Outside".

Unlike "Monopoly", where players compete to be property tycoons, "Outside" simulates the hardships of life on the street.

The game's developers, who presented a prototype last weekend at the Brussels Games Festival, hope it can educate people about what it is like to live without a home, including the occasional turn of good luck.

"You help a tourist find his way to a hotel, to thank you he gives you 50 euros," reads one of the cards, all of which are based on homeless people's real experiences.

"I want the game to reflect reality as much as possible, which is why we've been collaborating as much as possible with homeless people to create this game.", said Lea Aubrit, who interviewed dozens of homeless people as research for "Outside".

Navigating the board as a homeless person, players have the option to visit locations such as help organizations, the hospital or the police station. The end goal is to find a job and housing.

"We want to take the game to schools as a tool to raise awareness about the hardships of living on the streets," Patrice Rousseau, a former homeless person working on the project, told Reuters.   Continued...

People play on a prototype of "Outside", a new board game aimed at raising awareness about the hardships of being a homeless person, during the Games Festival in Brussels, Belgium, August 28, 2016.REUTERS/Maria Haase Coelho