Maine psychology professor Dr. Brian Kaufman and husband Martin Swinger have created a board game called Rainbow Quest. The ‘roll the dice and move forward’ game encompasses a variety of interactive challenges, all based on LGBTQ+ His/Herstory and Culture, as players traverse from the black-and-white binary ‘Bleak World’ around a rainbow path of flag challenges to reach a colorful ‘Better World for Everyone’.
Studies show the highest rate of suicide is among teens who identify on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Social stigma, religious condemnation, and risk of family abandonment are but a few of the threats facing teens who awaken to the broad potential in their sexual identities. But as tender personalities unfold, evidence of thriving role models are hard to find in our society. When a person is not reflected in their world, a person may believe they are not part of it. The goal of the game is to shift that paradigm.
Along the path, players share stories of personal challenges and triumphs, navigate ethical dilemmas, discover the many ways LGBTQ+ heroes have improved civilization, and ways adversaries have held it back. The game invites players to be their authentic selves, listen and reflect with empathy, make and challenge assumptions, express hidden talents and even share good-natured laughs – learning while having fun.
Winning is not the object of this non-competitive game – it’s all about the journey.
Kaufman and Swinger invested 15 years developing Rainbow Quest! which was originally intended simply as an activity to keep Dr. Kaufman’s LGBTQ+ support group engaged week after week. Rainbow Quest! went through many hand-made prototypes, was shared at indie-game festivals and education conferences, was played at GSA’s and inter-generational gatherings of straight, ally and LGBTQ+ players. The conclusion is unanimous: Everybody Wins!
As of 2021 five US states have mandated that LGBTQ+ his/herstory be incorporated into public school curriculums. After the lobbying and hard work getting the mandates passed, teachers are only now beginning to grasp the challenge of folding Our Truths into standard social studies curriculums. Fortunately, many educators are taking notice of the potential of this simple board game to create a level playing field that can engage, empower, educate, and affirm people of all types.
The New York City Board of Education has purchased 250 copies of Rainbow Quest! as Kaufman and Swinger train New Jersey Educators for Equality to play the game via Zoom during the pandemic.
Shanee Stepakoff, Ph.D.; Clinical Psychologist & Adjunct Professor, California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco proclaims: “Rainbow Quest! presents a variety of 'whole-brain' activities keeping it lively, engaging, and fun. The level of deep, honest, and meaningful dialogue is unmatched by any other game or diversity training tool. It is gratifying to see the transformation as players quickly develop a level of comfort in discussing topics of importance to them in ways they have not experienced previously.”
Rainbow Quest! is produced and manufactured by Pickadilly Specialties, a 501(c )3 corporation and is available along with other PRIDE merchandise at Rainbowquest.org