When friends and guests come to visit Damanhur for the first time, a scene that usually makes their jaws drop with awe (even before stepping into the underground Temples of Humankind) is what they see at Caffè Letterario (aka Caffe d’arte) in Damjl: a huge three by five meter map of an imaginary world on the wall, with lands and seas, national boundaries, tiny colourful ships, settlements and armies sculpted from modelling clay, and hundreds of mysterious numbers written on the board.

This is the setting of Damahurian Risk. It’s a game, just like the classic Risk game. It’s also much, much more than a game. So, what is it? Why is it so appealing… so much so that a band of Damanhurians – along with Falco Tarassaco when he was still physically present with us – relentlessly played Risk together at least three nights a week from early evening to late into the night? Playing game sessions that can last for months and sometimes even years?

Risk is a training ground to learn how to reason with many different kinds of logic at the same time. This is a skill that is useful in all contexts of life, especially Damanhurian life.

Risk is a microcosm to explore the complexity of developing a civilization with its resource allocation, social relations, economic conditions and political maneuvers. In a recent book published about The Damanhurian Version of Risk, the scenario is described as such: “To ensure the development of a population, social relations are always essential. They are usually represented by royal families that sooner or later manifest imperialist ambitions, then transitioning into timid democracies and federations of all kinds and all levels.”

So, presidential elections, coup d’état, managing balance sheets for national resources and spending… maybe this doesn’t sound like such a relaxing pastime. It’s true, usually the game is played with a certain level of tension and concentration, although it also provides a space to let inner personalities less expressed in everyday life to take center stage.

I would even say that Damanhurian Risk is a healing space, as it allows the players to integrate diversities within themselves and play out scenes that permit an emotional release in a context where everyone understands and values these dynamics. Then at the end of the session, game “enemies” exchange hugs and laugh about their conquests and follies.

Who might you find playing the game? According to the Risk book, “Characters range from dictators to diplomats determined to achieve undeclared objectives, journalists who hound ministers and heads of state, reasonable and fanatic religious leaders, entrepreneurs hungry for wealth, and there are always inflexible military leaders dangerously hunting for glory.”

Do you have a game that you play or a space in your life where you express the different personalities and potentials within you? We would love to know! Share in the comments.