Board Gaming the System: A Comic Series

In this month’s comic, Jason Novak and Adam Bessie turn the classic board game Chutes and Ladders into a play obstacle course. The children surmount the walls and fences, and the barriers are transformed.

As fathers of young children, Jason and Adam have spent many fun hours playing board games, several of which were created by Parker Brothers, which made its start as a game company right in Salem, Massachusetts. These board games aren’t just about diverting play, but about rules you must follow to win. The rules of game often reflect the idealized rules and mores of the culture—by playing the game, you are learning how to behave in the culture. And thus, board games are like a time capsule, a way of seeing the dominant values of a place and time. Our five-part series, Board Gaming the System, honors the legacy of the board game (and the many hours we’ve spent playing them) and reimagines classic boards to reveal the unwritten rules of our culture today.

Come back for next month’s installment in the series.

About Adam Bessie

Adam Bessie is a writer whose cartoons and graphic journalism have been featured in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, and the Project Censored book series. Bessie is a professor of English at a San Francisco Bay area community college and the father of a kindergartener.

About Jason Novak

Jason Novak is a cartoonist. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Rumpus, and Harper’s Weekly, and more.