About “Pancakes or Waffles?”


We designed “Pancakes or Waffles?” to develop a forum on campus for a fun and thought-provoking dialogue that examines value-driven choices. The structure is simple. A player is presented with a choice between two comparable objects, institutions or ideas, starting with pancakes and waffles. He or she must make preserve one of the two choices and, in doing so, sacrifice the other. However, great consequences accompany each decision: the object/institution/idea is given up ceases to have ever existed. For example, if a player chooses to sacrifice apples, apples would have never existed in our society and therefore neither would have apple cider, apple whiskey, apple pie, etc.

After choosing, the player puts forward a new matchup that includes what he or she chose in the last round. The game continues in this way as the choices become progressively more difficult. Rationalizing “choices” and “sacrifices” should become more complex as the game goes on, demanding increasing levels of sophistication and nuance in choosing what to sacrifice in creating this new world.

We hope that this game will shed light on some interesting and compelling questions such as “What does it take to have a functional government?”, “What are the basic elements of a family?”, “How can a transportation and trade networks continue without certain resources?”, “How important are elements of human nature versus social institutions in creating a functional society?”, etc.

We hope to start with a game between professors from different departments so as to outline different ways of thinking when assigning values to these objects, institutions, and ideas. For example, if there were a choice between “subways” and “public art,” one player may view subways as more valuable to a society while another may argue that public displays of art hold a stronger instrinsic value to society.

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