Gerrymandering Is No Game, But Playing Mapmaker Could Teach Players A Few Things About Politics

“We hope that through this board game, we can spark conversations around the country about this issue.”

By Sarah YoakleyJuly 17, 2018 9:24 am

For three siblings living in Texas’s 10th congressional district – a district that stretches over 160 miles from Austin to Houston – the manipulation of voting boundaries is anything but a game. But in order to get Texans talking about gerrymandering, they decided to channel their feelings about the issue into a board game. Josh, Louis and Rebecca Lafair are now one year into their Kickstarter campaign and the board game, Mapmaker, is almost ready for audiences. Josh Lafair, the youngest sibling, spoke to Texas Standard Host David Brown.

Lafair, 17, says he has always loved politics. Gerrymandering has been a topic of discussion in his family, living within a heavily manipulated district. The Lafair siblings wanted more people to have discussions about the complicated nature of gerrymandering.

“I think, especially in America, the whole idea is ‘one vote one person.’ Everyone should have an equal voice and what’s happening with gerrymandering is people’s voices are getting diluted all across the country,” Lafair says. “My siblings and I believe that gerrymandering isn’t talked [about] enough and maybe that’s one of the reasons why it’s still being allowed. we hope that through this board game, we can spark conversations around the country about this issue.”

Lafair says you don’t need to know anything about gerrymandering to play Mapmaker, but he hopes that players leave the game with a better understanding of voting boundaries.

“What my siblings and I find very interesting is that when people are playing about halfway through when it’s their first time, they get this moment like, ‘oh, this is how gerrymandering works,’” says Lafair. “There’s a lot more to gerrymandering than cracking and packing, but that kind of realization sparks a conversation that my siblings and I want to create.”

In addition to informing players about gerrymandering, the Lafairs are sending their board games to state legislators who have influence over voting boundaries.

“We are putting a little ‘gerrymandering is not a game’ proclamation inside every box and we are sending it to state legislatures because they can draw the maps, governors because they can veto maps, and the SC because they can rule on maps,” Lafair says. “It’s hard to ignore a bunch of boxes showing up at your doorstep.”

Written by Haley Butler.