Poverty Ain’t for Scaredy-Cats!

Pay your rent or your doctor’s bill? Live in your car or pawn it?

Test your decision-making skills when the stakes are high and your assets are dwindling. 

Can you beat the spiral and reach stability before time runs out?


Can you hack it as a single parent or last one night in a homeless shelter?

What is Broke the Game?

Broke, the game, induces the stress and pressure experienced in the extraordinarily difficult process of attempting to overcome poverty in the United States. With a simple set-up and about 45 minutes of game play, Broke, which is sold at cost, gets players thinking and pushing the boundaries of their preconceived ideas about poverty in the US.

Broke is a highly engaging, empathy-creating game that is easily adaptable from home play to multiple learning environments – from boardrooms to classrooms. Broke pits players against poverty with a deck that is literally stacked against them! Broke provides an eye-opening exercise for educators, social workers, police officers, mentors, volunteers, youth group leaders – you name it!

Broke gives players the opportunity to navigate life as either a farmer, single parent, senior citizen, or someone without citizenship documents or living in a homeless shelter. Players develop empathy by experiencing the stress and frustration of making high stakes decisions with competing priorities and not enough income. 

Broke plunges players into situations not accessible inside the classroom. Broke is easily incorporated into an academic class period with everything you need for high-impact outcomes. Broke comes with directions, an app and even discussion questions to help your students process their experience.   

All of the situations in Broke are pulled from soup kitchens, homeless shelters, halfway houses and the real-lived experiences of people struggling with structured inequity in the United States. Help your students understand what it feels like to be challenged with the overwhelming stress of making no-win decisions when you’re BROKE!

What the experts have to say

“Dana Gold brings a lifetime of personal and professional experience to help create a game that enables people to better understand the systemic nature of poverty and its crippling impact in our society on individuals and families. This is important work that can help raise awareness and ideally help make changes for the better for all of us.”

Drew Davidson

Director of Entertainment Technology Center, CMU

“One of the most powerful things a game can do is to change someone’s point of view by immersing them in situations they don’t face in their everyday life. BROKE’s design is brilliant, because it forces players to confront the realities of an economic system that helps the rich get richer while the poor get poorer. Who would have thought a fun party game could get people to look each other in the eye while discussing systemic racism and economic theory? BROKE does all this and more — it’s definitely worth checking out!”

Jesse Schell

CEO, Schell Games

“Making a game about the experience of poverty risks being trivializing, reductive, or didactic. Gold brilliantly flips the script by asking players to confront the systems that keep people stuck in poverty, and by starting vigorous conversations between players about scenarios drawn from her extensive professional experience. This game incorporates best practices for changing players’ perspectives, and it does it while being brilliantly fun. You will never forget the experiences you have playing Broke, regardless of your own background.”

Jessica Hammer

Entertainment Technology Center, CMU

Discussion Questions and Directions

The Book

Broke: How I Made Poverty A Game

After growing up poor and working for decades in shelters and halfway houses, Dana Gold created a board game to help people of good will understand how families get ensnared in poverty and how difficult the struggle is to overcome structured inequity.

The first version of the game was a sheet of paper and movers she swiped from her kid’s Chutes and Ladders game. The game, now called Broke, creates empathy for people who are poor by giving players the opportunity to experience the stress and frustration of making high stakes decisions with competing priorities and not enough income.

Poverty can be fought by people with the passion and will to make change. But how? Playing Broke, now also an app, not only informs but creates the will to make system change a reality. Join Dana in getting frustrated enough, by playing a game, to work for change.

Listen to Dana Gold discuss the genesis of Broke.

Bootstrapping doesn’t work

Why Dana hates “Monopoly”

Watching empathy happen

Let’s Get Started

Ready For A Real Challenge? Download BROKE Today!

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