The Game of Social Life: Poverty Simulation


Contributor: Kosha Bramesfeld, PhD (


Instructions and materials for creating the Game of Social Life: Poverty Simulation are published:


The Game of Social Life: Poverty Simulation is a board game designed to motivate individuals to reflect on and discuss concepts of social stratification based on multiple dimensions of poverty. Prior to starting the game, players are assigned character resources at random. They then complete a budget exercise to determine the resources that they will have available to them during game play. The first part of the board game represents childhood, with the goal of remaining healthy and accumulating education credits. In the second part of the game, representing adulthood, education credits earn prestige and wealth (or lack of prestige and wealth) in the form of occupational opportunities. The second part of the board game resembles the commercially available board game Monopoly. Full game play and discussion take about 3 hours total (which can be spread over multiple sessions), or game elements can be adapted to facilitate shorter game play. Game play requires table space and a board game for every 4 to 6 players. Instructions for creating the board game can be accessed at the resources listed above. Because of the interactive nature of the board game and discussion, it is recommended for small groups (or with the use of multiple facilitators if being played in large group settings).

Special Notes:

The game materials are published with the Teaching Resources and Innovations Library in Sociology. Game materials and the results of a research evaluation are published with Teaching Sociology.

The research evaluation associated with this project was supported, in part, by a 2014 grant from the Teaching about Diversity Fund through the Learning and Teaching Office at Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Peter Green, Maryville University, helped in the development of the game. Arla Good, Ryerson University, co-authored the research publication. Andres Hernandez, Ryerson University, helped with the analysis of the data. Christopher Sheitle, West Virginia University, and Tammy Gocial, Maryville University, provided guidance and feedback during the preparation of published materials.


Bramesfeld, K. D. (2015). The Game of Social Life: A multidimensional poverty simulation. Class Activity published in TRAILS: Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology. Washington DC:  American Sociological Association. (

Bramesfeld, K. D., & Good, A. (2015). The Game of Social Life: An assessment of a multidimensional poverty simulation. Teaching Sociology, 43(2), 92-103. http://dx.doi: 10.1177/0092055X15569316

Good, A. & Bramesfeld, K. D. (2015, June). Fun, games, and inequality [The Broadbent Blog]. Retrieved from

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