If you’re looking for a way to close out your week that’s entertaining, edifying and looks like you’re doing real work, check out Chimeria:Grayscale, a game where you act as an HR person dealing with everyday office problems via email. Okay, maybe it doesn’t sound that exciting, but there’s more to it than that.
As the game’s creator, MIT CSAIL’s D. Fox Harrell, explains in an interview with… well, MIT, the game is more about identifying and navigating the subtleties of sexism.
The messages from other employees have embedded within them evidence of different types of sexism from the Fiske and Glick social-science model.
We chose this particular model of sexism because it addresses this notion of ambivalent sexism, which includes both hostile sexism — which is the very overt sexism that we know well and could include everything from heinous assaults to gender discrimination — and what they call “benevolent sexism.” It’s not benevolent in the sense that it’s anything good; it’s oppressive too. Fixing a woman’s computer for her under the assumption she cannot do it herself, these researchers would say, is “protective paternalism.”
The problems sent to you, the new HR hire, range all over, and your responses (it’s a kind of choose your own adventure thing) embody responses that may or may not acknowledge the dynamics at play.
There’s no big pay-off; the game takes perhaps 10 or 15 minutes to play through, and you don’t get like a certificate of non-sexism at the end or anything. But there are different outcomes depending on how you handle some situations, so you might want to play through more than once.
Anyway, I thought it was an interesting (if brief and necessarily basic) look at some of the conflicts and tensions that exist in an office and the variety of responses people and the company they work for might decide on. If nothing else it may serve as a reminder that HR reps are people too.