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A woman standing in front of a touchscreen in a gallery.

How do you make ends meet when the mill owner holds all the cards?

Early 20th century mill workers grappled with tough decisions every day. Visitors play this serious game at the Levine Museum of the New South, making difficult choices about life and work in a North Carolina textile mill village. This game gives visitors a deeper insight into the challenges and compromises of the era and acts as a cornerstone for the exhibition Charlotte: Moving Forward, Looking Back.

A demonstration of the game and the main map.

After selecting a job, they make choices about where to live, and what to spend on food, and how to enjoy their time off the clock. As they select a character to live out a life in the Mill Village, visitors are confronted with the fact that their upward mobility depends on their race and gender.

Visitors' characters' lives play out, experiencing marriage and children, injuries on the job, or the rare promotion. These experiences are brought to life through archival photography, oral history quotes, and detailed illustrations inspired by 20th century newsprints.

A touchscreen in a gallery.

Visitors must ask themselves, “What would I do?” Their decision points range from, “how well will you eat?” to “will your children go to school or work in the mills?” The game challenges visitors to balance their household budget in a rigged economic system that unfairly benefits the mill owners.

A decision screen in the game.

Would you go into debt trying to provide a better future for your family, or make enough money to get ahead by putting your children to work? Visit the Levine Museum and find out.

A showcase of the different possible worker choices.