Dealer’s Choice

by | Dec 7, 2023 | Artwork #4: Experience

Artist’s Statement:

Since beginning to learn about game design, a constant in all the games I have worked with has been to create a sense of fairness for the player. Create challenges and puzzles for a participant to overcome, but make sure the playing field is level for everyone involved. However, I felt that this wasn’t very reflective of the real world, where nothing is fair and victory goes to the people who can pay for it. My card game takes the simple premise of card dealing and poker, specifically black jack, but appropriates the goal of the game and the way the cards are dealt to provide an unfair advantage to those who were lucky enough to go first.

I wanted to convey with my game that the people on top in society have way more control over the lives of the people below them. The 1% get to influence where the country’s money goes, who is voted into office, and what legislation is allowed to be passed. However, I convey this message quite subtly through the lens of a simple card game, where the first player gets to directly impact what cards the people behind them get access to. Another point I wanted to convey to my players is a sense of loss of control, where you are directly subjected to the actions of the other players before you. When a player chooses a card from the limited pool of options, they are completely cutting you off from having that choice for yourself and are instead forced to create something from their scraps. I actually got this idea from a movie, a foreign film on Netflix entitled “The Platform”, where people are forced onto different levels of a building, and every day a platform of food travels down through the floors for the people to eat, but the further down your level is the less food there is for you. This movie is also an artistic critic against the system of the upper class, calling out the unfairness and hypocrisy of the system that rewards people for being rich.

Game Documentation:

The Rules:

Everyone rolls two dice to determine turn order – the person with the highest role goes first, then second, and so on

First player, draw as many cards as there are players PLUS ONE (ex. If there are 4 people playing, draw 5 cards)

Out of all the cards, pick one to keep and pass the remaining cards to the second player. Second player do the same, and so on until the last player

THE OBJECTIVE OF THE GAME: First player to get a hand that adds exactly to 21 wins the round (Poker rules apply to card values, ex Ace is 11 or 1)

If someone collects a collective card value over 21, they are sent to last place for the next round

Whoever wins the round becomes first player, second place becomes second player, and so on

Play as many rounds as you want!

Bonus Rule: if one person has been in first for too long, all the other players can invoke a Revolution. A Revolution means that for the next round, each player who is not first must pool their cards and collect a total of ((number of players – 1) * 15) = for example, if there are 4 people playing and the bottom 3 players invoke revolution, the bottom three players must collect a total of at least 45 points before the first player can collect exactly 21 points. If they succeed, the first player gets sent to last for the next round. Note: A revolution can only occur if EVERYONE wants to participate (excluding the first player). After the first player has been sent to the back, the group must decide who gets placed to player 1 (if they cannot make up their mind, roll a dice again to determine turn order)


Post-Playtest 1 Notes:
– It was too easy for players to get to 21 within the first 2 turns

– There was an interesting game tactic deployed by the first player, where they would hoard all of the lower value cards each turn and just wait for the other players to get a hand over 21 in order to secure their position in 1st

– Changes: adjust the point distribution on the face cards – Jack = 11, Queen = 12, King = 13, ace = 1

Post-Playtest 2 Notes:
– the changes made to the face cards were unnecessary, I’m going to change it back to regular blackjack rules

– The games were short but sweet, and I believe they captured the message I was trying to send about unfairness and privilege towards the wealthy in the real world.


Example of a round: