New Board Game Lets Children Unmask Taiwan's Migrant Worker Woes

New Board Game Lets Children Unmask Taiwan's Migrant Worker Woes
Photo Credit:Reuters/達志影像

What you need to know

A new board game allows students to experience the difficult life choices and hardships of Taiwan’s migrant workers.

Migrant Worker Life is a board game designed for Taiwanese people who want to know more about the country’s 680,000-strong foreign workforce.

The role-playing game allows participants to step into the shoes of a real migrant worker and follow their story, from leaving home, adapting to their new working environment, facing cultural conflicts, and potentially enduring unpleasant labor disputes.

The game’s creators say they want to help people understand and empathize with migrant workers as many Taiwanese are not aware of the full spectrum of issues they face.

Credit: Reuters / TPG
A migrant worker uses a mobile phone as she waits for her documents to be processed in Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta airport.

By: 1095

At first, we wanted children to understand migrant workers

In April 2017, we received an invite to lead the iflyhouse parent and child education workshop. We designed a role-playing game that allowed children to step into the shoes of a migrant worker and help them come into contact with the experiences and cultures of Taiwan’s Southeast Asian foreign workforce.

In the game, us organizers played the roles of agencies and employers, while children played migrant workers. They found themselves without much control over their progress – when they made seemingly correct decisions, they were still confronted with unforeseen consequences such as work accidents or illnesses.

After the game was over, some exasperated children expressed that if they were migrant workers, they would abandon their dreams of traveling the world and drink their blues away.

Of course, migrant workers meet many hardships in their everyday lives.

But even in the depths of despair, you can look up and see the light of hope. When the host asked the children how society could help “Adi,” a migrant caregiver, a child enthusiastically replied: “Give her two days a week off.”

The host then looked sternly at him and retorted: “Well then when Adi is off work, you will have to look after your grandpa!”

The child pondered this for a while, then hung his head without saying a word as if regretting his earlier nonchalant reply. However, as we were about to move on to the next child, he cut in at the top of his voice and said: "I’m willing to try looking after grandpa, so that Adi can have a break. Otherwise, her situation will be unbearable, with no vacation and such a low salary.”

Perhaps most adults would just think that they’re just children so we don’t need to take their words too seriously. We disagree. We think the seeds of change must be planted in the minds of our young ones.

Nobody can understand labor rights, multiculturalism, the environment, and gender issues in one night. Only through continuous education can we begin to understand our complex world, and this starts with imparting knowledge to our children. We will always believe that change is not achieved by the great efforts of a single person, but by the collective efforts of our society.

Credit: 1095

What happened next?

The story of the little boy’s willingness to help care for his grandfather received a massive response. Lungteng Publishing House, which designs school learning materials, asked us to help design an experience-oriented board game to help teach multiculturalism to high school civics students.

After numerous discussions, testing, and revisions – followed by more testing, and even more revisions – the Migrant Worker Life board game series was released in March 2018.

After this launch, the Migrant Worker Life immersion team toured Taiwan. Backed by the enthusiastic support of the game’s designers, students and teachers, and migrant worker advocates, the team held 38 game events which attracted over 400 participants.

Now, we’re excited to announce the launch of Migrant Worker Life 2.0.

In addition to the original story-based lesson plan, extra game mechanics were added, and the crash course explanations about migrant worker issues were updated. We have also included some very touching films as story endings for all of the participating migrant workers, so that educators and those in the migrant worker industry can share the information with their peers.

We believe Migrant Worker Life 2.0 will continue to encourage learners to think more about the predicaments faced by Taiwan’s migrant workers. We hope we can inspire society to help find solutions to the dire conditions all too often faced by Southeast Asian workers in our country.


Migrant Worker Life board game Q&A

Game time: 60 to 120 minutes
Number of players: The game is played in groups of four people. One set allows 16 people to play at the same time (four teams of four people).
Game requirements: Projector, projection screen, speakers, pens, printed Migrant Worker Life experience game-sheets, a game host to guide players (who must read the briefing in advance)

Q: Who is this board game suitable for?

A: Although the original Migrant Worker Life board game was specially designed as an experience-oriented game for high school students, the upgraded version 2.0 is suitable for players of all ages. However, children under 10 will likely need assistance from an adult.

Q: How can I get my hands on this board game?

A: If you are a high school teacher of civics, geography, or history, you may order Lungteng Publishing House textbooks (please contact Lungteng Cultural Co., Ltd or your school’s agent).

If you are a university lecturer, governmental body, or civil servant, please click on the following link to pre-order.

Q: Is it possible to hire 1095 to give a demonstration or lead a board game workshop?

A: Of course. Please go to the following website to register for a demo session, or you can directly message us!

Read Next: INFOGRAPHIC: Get to Know Taiwan's 680,000 Migrant Workers

This article originally appeared on the Chinese-language ASEAN edition of The News Lens. The original can be found here.

Translator: Zeke Li

Editor: Nick Aspinwall (@Nick1Aspinwall)

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