Take Back Your Community!


Mary Jewell

Lance Larson

Lorenzo Selby

Lucinda Smith

All are graduate students in education technology at San Diego State University.

Instructional Objective

Players will learn strategies for taking back their communities from gang domination. Through the discussion of the game choices made and interaction between players, learners will build ties with other concerned community members and increasing the likelihood their interventions will be successful.


The learners are parents, teachers, church members, students, and other community members who wish to learn strategies for winning back control of their neighborhoods from street gangs. These people live in the areas where gangs have made life violent and unsafe.

The game is designed to be played at a church, recreation center, police storefront, or other community centers. A complete game is about 1-2 hours in duration, depending on the number of players and discussion time.


A game is an appropriate format for this situation because it allows learners to cover a long period of time and several strategies which, under normal circumstances, would be difficult to observe and measure. The game simulates the real-life decisions facing communities today, and will foster discussion of these issues . Because the format of the game combines several familiar structures, play of the game is familiar and easily learned.

Object of Game

The object of the game is to cover all of the squares in the team's territory with the team's markers. The territory is one quadrant of the game board.

Game Materials

Time Required

The game is for 2 to 8 players and will play for approximately 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the amount of discussion.

Card Design

Take Back Your Community has two kinds of cards: Choice Cards and Chance Cards. The Choice cards provide two options for gang intervention from which the team must choose. For example, a choice card may allow a team to choose between funding the salary of an additional police officers or providing gang-intervention strategies in the schools. The Chance cards represent situations which a community does not control, such as gang war or the advent of a new kind of drug.

Sample Cards

Board Design

The board consists of a grid of 250 squares divided into 4 equal quadrants. The track around the outside of the grid allows for movement of each team's token. Places are provides for the game cards.


Two to four teams may play at the same time. Teams may consist of two to eight players. The game is played in the following manner:

The object of the game is to cover all of the squares in a team's territory with their markers.

First, a player should be appointed Banker. The players may decide who they wish to play this role. The Banker should then distribute $100,000 and 100 HUEs (Human Energy Units) to each team. The Banker should also place the Chance and Choice cards in the place indicated in the center of the board. The teams should then decide which quarter they want to win back, then place one flat marker on any square in the territory. Each team should also place its markers on the square labeled START. All teams should then roll the die to determine the order of play. The team with the highest roll will go first, then proceed in a counterclockwise direction. The first team should roll the dice, then move their token counterclockwise the appropriate number of spaces. If the team lands on a Choice square, they choose a Choice Card from the center of the board. They should read the situations on the card out loud so that all players can hear, and then decide which choice they will make. Teams may take as much five minutes to discuss the options before making a decision. Once the choice has been made, teams should pay the appropriate amount of money or HUEs to the Banker and receive the correct number of markers in return. The team should place their acquired markers on their territory adjacent to any markers already in place. If a team lands on a Chance square, they must draw a Chance card, read it so that all players can hear, and follow the directions on the card.

Play continues in this manner until one team has taken back all of its territory from the gangs in its neighborhood. If play must be terminated before all of the squares in a territory can be claimed, the team with the most markers at the end of the game wins.

Design Process

The game began with an idea from Bernie Dodge, and the design team began developing the game during an in-class activity. Three of the four members of our team are teachers who work in schools with high gang activity, so we already had some good background knowledge of gangs, why children join them, and successful interventions. We used several police handbooks, personal experiences, and interviews with SMEs and students to create a list of successful gang interventions and strategies. The content of the game fell into a territory/battlefield structure. The most difficult part of the design process was creating a means by which teams could choose the interventions to apply and acquire markers to gain back territory. Bernie Dodge provided considerable input in this area of the design process. Because all of our research indicated successful interventions combine funding with human resources, we decided to include two kinds of currency in the game, regular money and Human Energy Units. Merely throwing money at a problem without including human resources will not solve the problems.


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