Gaming for Equality: Komma Lika Finds a Friendly Way to Raise Awareness at Home
Everybody wants the revolution, but nobody wants to do the dishes… or the laundry… or the grocery shopping… or take out the trash. Specifically, women disproportionally perform the majority of domestic labour in contemporary households. That is why Swedish feminist Maria Loohufvud invented the new game Komma Lika: to find a fun yet concrete way to demonstrate the persistent unequal division of domestic labour with the aim of changing it.
Komma Lika is easy to play. Each time a family member (children included) completes a household task, that person receives a certain number of points. These points correspond to a series of differently coloured triangular-shaped magnets which are displayed together on the refrigerator for all to see. As an image begins to take shape (ranging from a bird to a dinosaur), so, too, does the pattern of who performs the bulk of the household’s domestic labour. However, unlike most games, the goal of Komma Lika is not to “win” by amassing the most points. Rather, the aim is actually to tie. In fact, Komma Lika is Swedish for “getting equal.”
I recently had the opportunity to talk with Maria to learn more about her excellent initiative.
Sean Carleton: Do you consider Komma Lika to be a feminist initiative?
Maria Loohufvud: Absolutely.
SC: What inspired you to create the game?
ML: I had been interested in feminist questions for many years and I wanted to see if I could combine feminism and game design. I first started out with heavy subjects such as sexual abuse and domestic violence. Instead I decided to make a game about something that was related to a problem that I myself had a lot of experience with and that could be a part of a larger solution.
SC: What do you hope to achieve with the Komma Lika?
ML: I want the game to be a tool for discussion. To help couples see their everyday patterns of domestic labour. To actually “see” what the other person is contributing to the common household.
SC: What have been the responses to the game in Sweden and internationally?
ML: The responses have been quite different. Swedes consider themselves to be very equal, so most people like the idea of the game, but some think they don’t need it themselves. But in Poland (where it will be released soon) it really has been an eye-opener. I get a lot of e-mails from Polish people (women mostly but not exclusively) who are very eager to try it. Also, some people have said “counting everything in life isn’t very romantic.” But the game isn’t meant to be used always and forever. It is meant as a tool to check relationships – to see if partners are contributing equally to the household, as they should.
Ultimately, Komma Lika sparks much-needed conversations about the unequal division of domestic labour. I bought and played the game and recommend others do as well. It is easy and fun to play, and it would be great to do at work and in activist spaces (who gets stuck cleaning the communal fridge?). As we fight for economic and social justice on a broader scale, it is important that we work toward these same goals in our relationships with our partners, friends and family. Komma Lika reminds us that an equal division of domestic labour needs to be an important part of our struggles for equality.
This article appeared in the March/April 2015 issue of Canadian Dimension (The Surveillance State).