The first week of January this year, I had the pleasure of tabling at OrcaCon for our nonprofit: Tri-City Area Gaming. Right next to us was a table covered in books, music, clothing — all kinds of merch — but the crowning gem was a board game called Reveal the Elephant.
The game was created by Philip 'Sharp Skills' Jacobs of Rebel Firm, LLC, and developed in collaboration with Blue Cactus Press. Their goal was to create a dynamic game that prompts candid conversations about race, racism, and racial equity. Reveal the Elephant is more than just a board game — it's a catalyst for change. The game's unique approach centers around real-life scenarios in which players address the unspoken issues surrounding race in social situations, like in the workplace.
I got the chance to play the prototype and speak with Philip Jacobs of Rebel Firm, LLC and Christina Butcher of Blue Cactus Press about its inception and development. I was delighted to find that there was a lot of game in their game! Though it does lend itself well to a workshop or seminar environment, players will find Reveal the Elephant engaging and fun. I think a lot of roleplayers (and fans of RPGs), especially those that prefer story-driven games, will enjoy Reveal the Elephant, and even find it to be transformative.
Philip 'Sharp Skills' Jacobs says he wanted to create Reveal the Elephant to foster a safe space for players to engage in meaningful dialogue, find practical solutions, and take steps towards genuine systemic change:
“We wanted to create a tool that goes beyond surface-level conversations about race, and challenges individuals to confront the uncomfortable truths that often linger unspoken. Reveal the Elephant is not just a game; it's a bridge that connects people, fostering understanding and collaboration.
Since the murder of George Floyd, I’ve seen the window of opportunity closing rapidly in terms of organizations willing to make change and disrupt the inequities that Black, Latino, and Indigenous people often face. With race being such a difficult topic to approach for many people, especially in the workplace, I thought a board game would be a great strategy to employ to help organizations and individuals advance the change they say they want.”
The game is designed to dismantle the barriers that often hinder conversations about race, allowing players to explore proactive, anti-racist solutions to various workplace and institutional scenarios. By confronting the proverbial elephant in the room, Reveal the Elephant seeks to empower organizations to address and overcome the challenges associated with race, fostering an environment that is inclusive, respectful, and conducive to real systemic change.
Players will engage in thought-provoking conversations, sharing personal experiences and untold stories, creating an environment where vulnerability is encouraged and embraced. Through laughter, shared experiences, and open communication, participants will develop essential communication skills, building a tolerance and vocabulary for navigating challenging conversations surrounding race.
Blue Cactus Press, co-developer of the game, is excited to collaborate with Rebel Firm, LLC on the creation of Reveal the Elephant. “We are excited to be part of this project that has the potential to reshape workplace dynamics,” says Christina Butcher. “By combining storytelling with gameplay, we aim to create an immersive experience that encourages individuals to see, understand, and ultimately address the complexities of racial dynamics."
Reveal the Elephant has already gained significant traction, having already received commendations from Washington state agencies such as DSHS, DOH, the Office of Equity, and the State Auditor’s Office.
Reveal the Elephant isn't just a game; it's a call to action. Let's play our part in breaking down the walls that divide us and build communities where everyone is heard, respected, and empowered to make a difference.
Philip 'Sharp Skills' Jacobs can be followed on Instagram: @thesharpskills.