Urban Ministries of Durham is getting some national pub for its video game SPENT, which is designed ostensibly to show the player what it’s like to live on a $9/hour wage. As you play it, however, you realize the deck has been stacked to make you fail and to engender shame in the player that makes more than $9/hour.

False assumptions and false choices abound. Just look at this one:

With the governor and Durham’s mayor out campaigning to get more people on the free-lunch dole, does anyone think that getting a free lunch in a school in Durham makes one an object of ridicule. It’s actually the opposite.

My wife, a teacher, went through the lunch line at her school a while back and, when she got to the cashier, actually took out money and paid. The child behind her in line asked, “Why are you paying for your lunch? It’s free.”

Like the imagined ostracism of kids taking free lunches, much of SPENT is imaginary. It also seems designed to discourage anyone who actually thinks they can work hard and get ahead. Way to go, Urban Ministries.