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The Good Life Game: Bargaining Needs and Resources
By playing a trading game, students learn about global inequality structures and are challenged to reflect on what is needed for a good life.


By: Lisa Hollands (Vechta University) and Shirin Betzler (Osnabrück University)

Session type: Single session, Undergrad, Medium size


  • Needs satisfaction

  • Games

  • Inequalities

  • Power dynamics

Introduction to the teaching example:
The purpose of this activity is to encourage reflection on one's needs, priorities and values, and to explore what students might take for granted. Students are encouraged to critically assess global wealth patterns and their potential consequences. The game is played in two rounds followed by a discussion/reflection. Students write down on cards 8 to 10 separate ideas for what is important to them for a good life (approx. 10 min). The cards are then shuffled and redistributed equally to the students. In Round 1, students exchange these cards with each other until they have a deck that reflects their idea of ​​what it takes to live a good life (approx. 15 min). Participants do not have to get back their original cards, but their final cards should match their definition of a good life. Further, the trade rate is not fixed (e.g. 1:1; 2:1,..), and it does not matter how many cards each student ends up with. In an optional Round 2 (approx. 20 min), students draw country cards and receive tokens based on their country’s wealth (e.g. GDP per capita). These tokens are used for another round of card transactions. In the end, the final number of tokens determines whether someone can buy additional cards or has to hand some in.  In the final discussion, students reflect on both rounds. For example, how they experienced the significance of their own definition of a good life, what aspects are taken for granted and whether inequality affects the pursuit of a good life.

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