CDS Mess

Card Game


CDS Mess is a card game that shows players how Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDO) and Credit Default Swaps (CDS) were used by Wall Street in the subprime mortgage crisis. In CDS Mess, players take on the role of an investment bank, packaging debt into CDOs and selling it to unsuspecting investors, protecting against losses, and betting against the health of other banks using CDSs.

The game play encourages players to maximize profits and expand their investment bank to become Too Big To Fail so that when the credit market inevitably dries up, they can get bailed out by the government.

CDS Mess is a collaboration with Derek Curry and Devin Wilson, as part of the collective Bankster Games. Curry and I co-founded Bankster Games in 2010 to design digital and analog games that explain aspects of financialization that may be difficult for people outside of finance to understand.