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Impossible Operation

Emergency room doctors and trauma surgeons have a unique — and unheard — perspective on gun violence, especially the devastation caused by assault rifles. In treating victims of shootings, these physicians know firsthand how radically different assault weapon injuries are from those caused by handguns. 

But due to political pressures and the self-interest of industry-backed lobbying groups, their voices have been stifled. To get their views out, this group created a twist on Operation, the classic board game. On a budget of just $3,000, it graphically visualized the damage these doctors encounter.

Instead of removing a funny bone or water on the knee, players are asked to extract a liquefied lung, split spine or blasted bowel. Contact with these pieces or the wound itself triggers audio of a heart rate monitor, which ends in a piercing flatline, dramatizing how few can be saved.

Judges say this was a brilliant way to get the doctors’ voices out there. “Love the way this creative gimmick generated coverage,” says another.

These doctors served as the face of the campaign, along with sharing an Impossible Operation social film with their online followers. The call to action was simply to play the game, tweeting it to U.S. senators to demand that they support the ban of assault weapons. 

Physical versions of the Impossible Operation board game were delivered to politicians on Capitol Hill. Online news picked up the story, leading to a 10-minute national segment on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, a program watched by millions daily, including the U.S. President.