Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Virtue Ethics: An Ethical Development Program for High School Youth

Faith In Action: Designing a Fairness Game

Part of Virtue Ethics

Activity time: 40 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint, markers, and tape
  • Board games such as Monopoly (C), Hi Ho Cherry-o (C), and Jenga (C), and several decks of playing cards
  • Miscellaneous game pieces, such as playing cards, tokens, dice, timekeeping devices, and spinners

Description of Activity

Participants reflect on the presence of fairness in games and design a fair game.

Note: Part 1 of this activity is the same as the Fairness Game segment of the workshop Opening.

Part 1. Tell the group that because they have worked so hard in previous workshops, today they have earned free time. Say you would like them to spend the time together as a group or at least in teams. Invite them to form teams and play any of the board games or a game with the playing cards. You and your co-leader can join. Let play continue as long as possible, at least 20 minutes. At the end of your time, ask each game team to declare a winner.

Invite the winners to sit in front of the group. Ask what enabled them to win: Chance? Skill? Previous experience with the game? Determination? Intelligence?

Ask if the game was fair.

If a game involved chance (such as a card game or a game with dice or spinners), ask if chance is fair. If chance is not fair, does it at least attempt to "level the playing field?"

Say that being fair sounds easy, but it often is not. People come to a game with different skills and gifts. Some have good fine motor skills. Others are good at thinking and planning ahead. It is hard to design any experience that is fair in that it enables everyone to use their own abilities to compete evenly with everyone else.

Part 2. Can the group name games that truly are fair and do not involve chance? Invite them to design one.

If the group is larger than eight, break into smaller groups. Indicate the materials you have brought for them to use, and, if appropriate, direct them toward materials outside your meeting space. Say:

The goal is to design a completely fair non-chance-based game. It should be accessible to everyone. It should be able to be completed within ten minutes or in rounds that last no more than ten minutes. Give teams ten minutes to design the games and two minutes each to explain their game to the larger group. Ask for any observations from the group about games and fairness.


If you have enough time and all the necessary materials, play each game.