The Value of Hawai‘i

About The Card Game

As a simulation of contemporary challenges and opportunities that Hawai’i faces, the Value of Hawai’i Card Game is an interactive, project-driven extension of The Value of Hawai‘i book.

Tasked by contributor Mari Matsuda with the challenge of making the book’s content engaging for and accessible to young people, educator and media designer David A.M. Goldberg fused the mechanics of popular collectible card games epitomized by Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! with web 2.0 interactivity and classical Hip-hop’s spirit of DIY creative competition.


Mililani High School teacher Claire Gearen, who was already using the book in her classes, implemented Goldberg’s lesson plans with her seniors in the fall of 2010. Goldberg visited Gearen’s classes on several occasions, and during these sessions the students discussed how values are established in a society, the practice of visual criticism, the relevance of gaming and simulation to their generation, Hawai‘i’s economic and ecological fragility, and the fact that they cannot afford to wait for one of their peers to come become a legislator in order to tackle these problems.

Under Gearen’s direction, this eager team of beta testers did the hard work of bringing a concept to full fruition in the form of over 600 cards! To do so they worked in a truly interdisciplinary manner, integrating reading, critical analysis, visual design, writing, and abstraction. Their excitement, effort and trust resulted in the project getting funding from the Hawai’i Council for the Humanities and the Biographical Research Center.

Through this institutional support Goldberg returned to Mililani High School during the spring semester and through Gearen introduced the game to several other teachers and hundreds more students. The “Ambassador Deck” – named for its intended relation to other schools in Hawai‘i who may want to explore the game – is the distillation of their best work to date.

These cards are an effective device for simulating the processes of politics, assessment, debate, problem solving, collaboration and decision-making that occur at all levels of society. They are also poignant works of art that illustrate and extend the ideas in the book’s essays. This inaugural deck represents the younger generation directly engaging with and reflecting on the thoughts of the book’s contributors, the effort of teachers who adapted the book to their curricula despite various constraints, and a general spirit of flexibility, collaboration, and innovation.


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