Forget spoons and matches, use dice to communicate chronic illness.

I remember the first time I went into a cave after starting to play D&D. I realized, really quickly, that swinging a longsword around in that cramped, dark space with uneven footing was, well, no game.

The descriptions and analogies we have for things like privilege (the invisible knapsack) or chronic illnesses (spoon theory and matchstick theory) are useful, but limited. Even if you try to tweak things from understanding it like an energy bar from Street Fighter to something more nuanced, that doesn’t really get the point across in a visceral way.

Tools like the Virtual Hallucinations project in Second Life (video below) can help, but require not only the knowledge it exists, but the computer knowledge to get there and experience it.

That’s where the genius of Fradleybox’s (twitter, mastodon) Chronic Illness Dice Game comes in. (Link to it on medium: ).

A round is 4 hours. A day is 6 rounds. To start each day, roll a d6. The result is how many rounds you may act before requiring a short rest (1 round), which grants one more round of action. you may rest twice per day.

The “challenge” of the game quickly drives home the very real limitations of chronic illnesses.

Just going to work, working, and going home takes up 2 actions. Eating two meals is another 2. Gotta poop? You’re probably out of actions because you have IBS. Don’t forget to apply for benefits after you quit, and probably penalize yourself some emotional actions that day too.

While imperfect (and acknowledged as such by the author), it’s still a great start. Share it, try it out, and be sure to give them feedback on how they can make it better.


Featured Photo by Savs on Unsplash