“Checks and Balances” is a card game that teaches the American electoral process, from grassroots activism to the interactions of our government’s three branches. It is the brainchild of White Salmon residents Sasha Bentley and Chris Johnson. (Submitted photo)
As of Wednesday, August 16, 2017
By KEN PARK
The 2016 presidential election was for many a time to try and remember their high school civics lesson on how the electoral process is supposed to work.
Since then many people have delved deeper into how our government is supposed to work on daily basis, learning more about the three branches of our government only to discover it is a daunting and categorically boring task. It was this revelation that got White Salmon couple Chris Johnson and Sasha Bentley to devise their own game called “Checks and Balances.”
“It’s a card game intended to simulate American democracy,”said Johnson.
“The game demonstrates the powers of each branch of government, the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial, and how they are supposed to balance the government out. For example when one party holds power in all three branches the powers of government are unbalanced. The game demonstrates how voters, elections, activist organizations, lobbyists, campaign contributions can come into play to restore balance or in some cases drive even more power to the other side.”
For right now the game is for players 14 years of age and older due to complexity and reading ability, but Johnson and Bentley hope to come up with a more simplified version for younger kids.
“We would love to see this game played in schools as an educational tool, and by families to maybe break some political tensions and start discussions,” said Bentley.
“We wanted to make this knowledge we had learned about our government system accessible and fun,” said Johnson.
On their “Checks and Balances” Kickstarter page, if you pledge $60 you get a copy of the game when it comes out, but you can also donate a copy to a teacher or educational institution of your choosing.
The game mainly focuses on the two major political parties in our government, Republicans and Democrats, but Johnson and Bentley hope to incorporate expansion packs into the game that feature the Independent, Green and Tea parties.
“Logistically, for the way the game is played, it made more sense to focus on the two major parties because we know where they stand on certain policies and platforms very clearly and those stances play key roles in the game as well as generating discussion,” said Johnson
“It also, in a way, shows how the two party system isn’t that great and why we need those other parties to be on the same level with the same voice and recognition as the Republicans and Democrats,” said Bentley.
Like all new games, it takes a round to figure out what each card does, and how it affects you and/or your opponent. Then, you have to come up with a strategy to win. How do you win? The goal is to pass three pieces of legislation through both the House of Representatives and the Senate that match your party’s platforms.
“Just like in the real government it can be very hard to do and take a long time, but sometimes it will be very easy,” said Johnson.
You can learn more about “Checks and Balances” on its Kickstarter page, https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/checksandbalances/checks-and-balances-the-game, or on its Web site, http://www.checksandbalances game.com/.