In the Life on Lenox is a board game inspired by Hasbro’s Monopoly that explores Black life during the Harlem Renaissance. More specifically, it is a look at rent parties – private parties held in apartments that charged a fee and went towards the host’s rent. The name of the game has two origins: ‘in the life’ was the term used for people in the queer community and is also the name for the Black queer archive in the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Lenox Avenue is an important location in Harlem that housed much of the nightlife and where much of the activities took place.
The primary goal of In the Life on Lenox is to educate players on rent parties and their importance to the development of queer kinships in 1920s Harlem. Using the game as introduction, this project hopes to spark further interest in learning about the time period and provide resources so that Black queer teenagers can, if they choose to, learn more.
Chance, Community Chest, and Property cards are also utilized to educate players about some of the major Black queer figures and events during the time. Some of these figures and events include: Hamilton Lodge Ball, Gladys Bentley, Mabel Hampton, Langston Hughes, and Zora Neale Hurston.
Games, through their interactivity, can provide the same spotlight films and television do to often overlooked historical events. Current American history education forces students to learn over 200 years of information in about 9 months. Meaning, some events and the people associated with those events don't get the attention they deserve. Media serves as the tool to give those historical events the importance that textbooks do not.
1. Players choose their game piece and roll dice to determine who goes first. Player who rolls the highest number goes first, second highest goes second, etc.
2. One player must be the banker. They do not have to actively participant in the game.
3. Each player starts with $100. The player gains an additional $20 each time they pass GO (except in the case of an eviction)
4. Players roll dice to determine the number of spaces on the board they move. Rolling a double means the player can go again. Rolling a double three times leads to eviction.
a. EVICTION: A player can be evicted in three ways: rolling a double three times, landing on the eviction tile on the game board, or receiving the chance card that tells them they’ve been evicted. A player can get rid of their eviction status by rolling a double (only get one turn), using a rent-free card (either their own or another player’s), or paying $25.
b. If you don’t own any property yet, you can’t be evicted. If you land on the evicted tile, you can ignore it. If you get a Chance card that says you’ve been evicted, you can ignore it.
c. Upon eviction, one random property belonging to the player will be put up for auction to be bought by the other players.
5. RENTING: if a player lands on an unoccupied spot, they could rent it for the price listed on the board. Other players that land on the spot have to pay the amount listed on the card. The other player only pays the larger amount if the properties are being rented by the same player.
a. If a player chooses not to rent a property they land on, the property must be auctioned off by the bank.
6. RENT PARTY: after a player rents a property, if they land on that property again, they can hold a rent party. Each player pitches in the specified amount of money on the property card. Players who call a rent party must pay a $25 fee for supplies (food, liquor, entertainment). Then they roll again and if they get a 6 or higher, the party was successful, and they get their money back.
a. Rent parties can be used to avoid eviction.
b. The money gained from a rent party increases if a player is renting properties of the same color. (x2 if two properties, x3 if three properties)
7. CHANCE and COMMUNITY CHEST: The “Rent Free” card is held until used and then returned to the bottom of the deck.
8. TRADE: Players can trade money and property with other players during their turn. This can happen before or after they roll the dice.
9. The game ends after 15 turns or all but one player declares bankruptcy, whichever comes first. A winner is determined by remaining personal funds + value of each property.