In light of inevitable global crises, we have developed the ironic concept of F.E.A.R.S. as a lens to understand privilege as a wicked system of five intersecting, inteconnected and interdependent key issues, combining a messy tangle of threats.
Our 50 characters, organized in their 10 gangs, use the F.E.A.R.S. to bolster their power of influence and privilege of access to resources – they instill FEARS into everyone, as a warning to anyone opposing or scrutinizing their methods.
What are the F.E.A.R.S.?
This privilege targets our shared visions and strategies, by focusing on failures across visions and finance, structures, strategies, body politic, administration, visions.
This privilege targets our well-being and relationships, by focusing on panic, delusions, depression and mass psychosis.
This privilege targets group dynamics and facilitation by focusing on leadership, authoritarian methods, lobbyists, messiahs and kleptocrats.
This privilege targets our shared commons and ‘human resources’, focusing on the ‘gig and dig’ economy, extractivism, scarcity, job/food/water/shelter shortage and extinctions.
This privilege targets our shared beliefs and the narratives we use to represent the world, focusing on the commodification of everything, myth-making, alt-fact propaganda and fear mongering.
It is inevitable: A wicked, interconnected mess of dwindling resources, unemployment and job insecurity, conflicting cultural beliefs, mass psychosis, rising unrest, radical behavior, extremism, austerity, drain on public purse, cancer, dis-ease and mass epidemics, protection of corporate interests, restrictions on flow of money/ profits, inequality, robotic AI, post humanity, disparity, climate change, mass movement of people, national borders, law & order, food, water and shelter shortages, starvation and extinction- in some shape or form, all this is headed our way. For many this cataclysmic process has already begun.
But isn’t FEAR natural?
We all want control of our life to make it the best possible experience – being fearful as individuals can be a 'natural' response to real threats - but the systematic use of fear is a societal construct, often invoking potential, imagined 'threats', made respectable with a patina of science and historic precedence.
Living in a state of fear 'naturalizes' competition, with violence and supremacy promoted as 'desired' and 'unavoidable side effects' of our 'human genetic makeup' rather than a series of self-serving stories of privilege and power.
These fear narratives restrict our efforts to imaginatively responsed to the crises we are facing and reinforce a hopelessness that there are no alternatives.
In our games we highlight that these crises are often manufactured by the very forces who insist these fear narratives are natural and inevitability.
We are facing threats to climate and social coherence on an unprecedented scale, at least in recent history and for privileged folks. People who have historically been excluded from 'privilege' have been bearing the brunt of that brutality... the oppression, enslavement and commodification of people and much of the natural world has helped establish and prop up our first world lifestyles in western democracies. And now, regardless of our values and beliefs, our entitlements to a 5-planet lifestyle are at stake…
The idea behind this Brechtian alienation technique, is that we want to supercharge privilege through play and encourage participants to walk in the shoes of the people playing the F.E.A.R.S. trick on us. On a global level we will need to respond to these FEARS anyway – and once we enter in the game of keeping our power and privilege status, we will need to control the underlying threats to our status - or loose it.
And if we really want to reorganize society equitably, we will need to address the crises the FEARS lens is targeting, so lets try to understand what motivates the powerful and privileged, before we loose the ability to do so.
The coming catastrophes will require a level of preparedness from all of us, to defend human rights, care for our common resources, ecosystems and all of their inhabitants, and reclaim power to make just and fair decisions.
And to do so we need to build the resilience to imagine our world afresh - so we can share differently.
Behind every critical NO is a joyful and playful YES waiting to be noticed, disrupted and reframed. We see this as the power of critical literacy and ‘double negative’ game play, to push through cognitive dissonance, blow away the fog of corporate positivism [just be happy already will ya…] and imagine what if… what would a life well lived feel like? How do we respond to the gangs wielding the F.E.A.R.S. over our societies?
We want to prepare us to get ready and develop the best, most effective strategies to rethink how to work, live and play together. We want the What Privilege? Game to be used to reflect, develop and create campaigns, art and provocations, to reclaim control of the narrative and to change it in ways that might not seem possible often, as we are suffocating under the carcass of the old, our language still tongue-tied and spell bound - and our shared imagination under attack by an all-out assault of culture warriors and their corporate lobbyists.
No middle ground
Global polarization and culture wars have intensified, there is no middle ground any more to cling to, we will need to pick a side. We developed this strategy to support us to map our entitlements, as a snapshot of where we sit globally, and invite everyone to re-imagine their work, organizations, campaigns and life strategies.
How to use FEARS in the game?
In some of the games, you may want to select your cards across the FEARS as a team of characters to build the best FEARS defense. Once you identified what you think is the core value, you can focus on one FEARS area or choose as many as you want.
And please ignore them as you see fit, or find more than the five FEARS to organize the card characters. There surely are more... we found that the five key areas cover a matrix of many threats against sustainable life on this planet, plus it spelt out F.E.A.R.S. and who could resist the fancy acronym…