When I was in high school I went on a field trip to an International High School that was a boarding school near the village where I lived. Students attended the high school from all over the world. As part of the field trip, the students from my school played a game.
We were divided into teams and given different roles to play within the world order. There were country leaders, national advisers, and spies. I was the leader of a first-world nation with the highest GDP. It was obviously meant to represent the U.S. One of my closest friends who I had an academically competitive relationship with ended up being the leader of a country that represented the USSR. The game was a social experiment to see how we high schoolers would run the world.
The facilitator gave us the go-ahead to begin.
There were eight of us playing the game. Each wearing the standard high school uniform of blue jeans, sneakers, and a t-shirt. I had on my Pink Floyd t-shirt and feather earrings. It was a gray overcast day outside. The room was lit mostly by the pale natural light coming through the large windows that overlooked the bay. The room was like a really large living room rather than an institutional schoolroom. There was a green comfy sofa and coffee table. Lots of bookcases filled with books and the large table that we were standing around with the facilitator, our social studies teacher, and some resident students who were observing. We were a bit of a motley crew compared to this sophisticated and cultured group. We were the Sooke Shrubs. The term has a similar connotation to hillbillies. I don’t know where it originated.
We started the game.
I was incredibly hopeful. My country had tons of resources, and I convinced all of my advisors to put almost all of our resources into healthcare, education, and other human services with very little going into our defense budget. No one knew what the other countries were doing with their resources. This was hidden from the players, but there were spy players who covertly shared information. I was too busy focusing on my utopian society to pay attention to their role. Much to our country’s peril.
I believed that taking care of the people in my country was the point of the game. My friend believed world domination was the point of the game. She gave her financial backing to a third world country in the Middle East who launched a military attack on my country and destroyed us because I hadn’t allocated enough resources to national defense. My friend was delighted with her victory. She gloated over her superiority in game strategy and mocked my naïveté. I felt suitably humiliated.
I remember the facilitator seemed somewhat flustered and perhaps even appalled at the brutal way my country was taken down, but she did her job and followed through with the debriefing. The point she made was if there had been transparency in the game with each of us knowing what the other countries were doing with their resources that would have created a better outcome for the world.
This didn’t make sense to me because if everything was out in the open, I would have been forced to put more money into the