Holding Privilege is an educational game and participatory installation project for design students & designers to use as a tool to talk about and reflect on their own relationships to power, identity and privilege. The game offers an opportunity for players to address this gap within the design field and in higher education. Holding Privilege is intended be used in a learning space such as a classroom or workshop and guided by a facilitator or educator.
DSI Advisors & Faculty
Maggie Breslin, Asi Burak, Mattie Brice & Nicolas Fortugno
*Project selected for Fast Track Honors Program
DESIGN RESEARCH, VISUAL & UX DESIGN
2019 | 4 MONTHS
USING GAME PLAY & PARTICIPATORY ART TO DISCUSS POWER & PRIVILEGE
Design has the power to shape our everyday lives & futures.
The majority of students attending NYC’s private design institutions are International students and there isn’t specific racial demographic information on these students. Although they are bulked together into one category, students vary in race and ethnicity, come from different cultural backgrounds and have diverse lived experiences. The nuances of their identity within the U.S context is an added layer of complexity to navigate.
As of the fall of 2019, neither Pratt or Parsons had explicit courses that name privilege, or race in their design curriculum, with the exception of SVA Products of Design Graduate Studies department. Parson School of Design provides a resource directory for faculty on equity, diversity and inclusion guidance, although useful and extensive we found those to be mostly preventative tools for faculty.
Unearned social power accorded by the formal and informal institutions of society to all members of a dominant group (e.g. white privilege, male privilege, etc.). Privilege is usually invisible to those who have it because we’re taught not to see it, but nevertheless it puts them at an advantage over those who do not have it.
SOURCE: Colors of Resistance Archive, 2013.
Power is unequally distributed globally and in U.S. society; some individuals or groups wield greater power than others, thereby allowing them greater access and control over resources. Wealth, whiteness, citizenship, patriarchy, heterosexism, and education are a few key social mechanisms through which power operates. Although power is often conceptualized as power over other individuals or groups, other variations are power with (used in the context of building collective strength) and power within (which references an individual’s internal strength). Learning to “see” and understand relations of power is vital to organizing for progressive social change.
SOURCE: Intergroup Resources, 2012
OUR GUIDING DEFINITIONS
If we see design as a tool for social change, how might we better equip designers & design students to be aware of individual and group relationships to power, identity and privileges so that they create healthier and equitable ways of working & designing towards a shared future?
Student Enrollment by Race & Ethnicity
Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) Fall 2018 Enrollment.
There is a deep divide in access, representation and power in the design world. If we can agree that design is in everything and that everything is designed, then who designs really matters. The people and the voices missing, and those most impacted by the choices of designers matter too.
WHO DESIGNS MATTERS
According to the AIGA Design Census, an online open source survey, in 2017, 60.4% of the 13,000 people surveyed within the design industry are White. The next largest demographic is Asian, coming in at a mere 10.4%. African Americans make up a small 3.4%, whereas Pacific Islanders represent less than 1% of those surveyed at .8%.
As we started to define our intended community, we focused on design students in higher education design institutions. We scoped further to learn the ethnic and racial breakdown of 3 major design universities in NYC including our own, School of Visual Arts.
Learning by Making
In total we created 6 proof-of-concept prototypes that were play tested by students at SVA and individuals at NYU’s game center. We presented and received weekly feedback from Design faculty at School of Visual Art’s Design for Social Innovation & Products of Design Program along with consulting with several gaming experts.
Using the MDA framework to approach our design we defined these 3 elements:
Aesthetics feelings, emotions and tone
Reflective and slightly uncomfortable/ challenged
Dynamics behavior of the mechanics or the play
Deliberating and decision making
Mechanics the rules or constraints of the play
Intentionally simple, accessible and familiar allowing for a deeper dive in topic and reflective experience.
Because our game relied heavily on facilitation, that meant having a designated facilitator to give instructions, debrief, and hold space for dialogue after the game experience we felt the game could be used as a tool in an educational setting such as a learning space or workshop.
Players will leave with:
- Greater self awareness about their identities and their relationship to privilege.
Gain understanding of how their identities are connected to systems of power and oppression.
understand their power and impact as a designer and relationship to the world at large.
MDA framework developed by Game Designers Robin Hunicke, Marc LeBlanc, and Robert Zubek