Originally published as a free game insert (with paper board and unmounted cards that had to be cut out) in the March 1970 issue of Psychology Today magazine (which simultaneously advertised a version in a long cardboard box, with better components and play money, for $5.95), “Blacks & Whites” was a socially-conscious game which not only reflected the signs of the times but was also meant to effect change. In a sense, it was something more akin to a social experiment and performance art in game form. On the bottom side of its box, the game description reads: “Experience the ghetto. Live on Welfare. Try to buy a place in a white suburb. Your challenge: To keep the land-hungry majority type from winning the game cheaply and quickly.... If Black players turn the tide against white advantages, a kind of irrepressible excitement takes over the board.”
Players were divided into Whites and Blacks and had to make economic progress while competing with each other. Based on "Monopoly", the idea was to demonstrate how the odds were stacked against black people in society by having different rules for each race in the game. The difference between this and all the other roll-and-move go-around-the board-buying-property games is that before the game, each player assumes the role of either a Black or White person.
Whites start out as the majority with $1,000,000.00 to spend and are able to buy property anywhere. Blacks start out as the minority with only $10,000.00 to spend; are unable to buy certain properties; have to draw from a separate Chance deck; are banned from purchasing property in the 'Surburban Zone'; and collect less money for completing a lap around the gameboard. Blacks are limited to certain areas of the board until they had accumulated at least $100,000.00. Players are encouraged to change the rules when anyone lands on the People's Park space.
Needless to say, it turned out to be one of the most controversial board games of all time and even merited an article in Time magazine: "The game, produced by Psychology Today Games (an off shoot of the magazine) now on sale ($5.95) at major department stores, was developed at the University of California at Davis by Psychology Department Chairman Robert Sommer. It was conceived as a painless way for middle-class whites to experience — and understand — the frustrations of blacks. In Sommer’s version, however, the black player could not win; as a simulation of frustration, the game was too successful. Then David Popoff, a Psychology Today editor, redesigned the game, taking suggestions from militant black members of 'US' in San Diego. The new rules give black players an opportunity to use — and even to beat — the System."
Although turning "Monopoly" into an attempt to draw people’s attention to social issues seems a little bit of a long shot, it’s worth noting that the original version of 'Monopoly' itself, called ‘The Landlord’s Game‘, was designed to demonstrate how the current economic system led to inequality and bankruptcy.
Psychology Today’s board game division seems to have been short-lived but other titles included 'The Cities Game' involving ‘urban tension, corruption and the undercurrents of city politics'; and 'Woman and Man' where ‘Each woman must accumulate enough Status Quo points (100) to prove her equality to Men. Each man must collect enough Status Quo points (100) to prove once and for all a Woman’s place is beneath his.’