Because the practices of commoning fly in the face of market culture, they are frequently misunderstood. What is this process of committed collaboration toward shared goals? people may wonder. How does it work, especially when many industries want to privatize control of the resource or prevent competition via commoning?
Matthieu Rhéaume, a commoner and game designer who lives Montreal, decided that a card game could be a great vehicle for introducing people to the commons. The result of his efforts is “C@rds in Common: A Game of Political Collaboration.” “I see playfulness as a sense-making tool,” Matthieu told me. “People can play casually and be surprised by the meta-learning [about the commons] that results.”
It all began at the World Social Forum (WSF) conference in Montreal in August 2016. Rhéaume decided to use the opportunity to synthesize viewpoints about the commons from a group of 50 participants and use the results to develop the card game. He persuaded the Charles Léopold Mayer Foundation and Gazibo, both based in France, to support development of the game. Fifty commoners more or less co-created the game with the help of several colleagues. (The process is described here.)
As a game designer, Rhéaume realized that successful, fun games must embody a certain “procedural rhetoric” and reward storytelling. He had enjoyed playing “Magic: The Gathering,” a popular multiplayer card game, and wondered what that game would feel like if it were collaborative.
At the WSF, Rhéaume asked participants to share their own insights about the commons by submitting suggested cards in six categories. The first four categories consist of “commoners cards” featuring “resources,” “action cards,” “project cards” and “attitude cards.” Two other types of cards -- “Oppressive Forces” cards with black backs – give the game its kick by applying “negative effects” to the “Political Arena” of play. The two negative effects are “enclosures” and “crises,” to which commoners must collectively organize and respond in time.