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Culture Differences in...Boardgames?, February 4th, 1996 :: Ben Turner's Soapbox

 

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archived soapbox: February 4th, 1996
"Culture Differences in...Boardgames?" [permalink]
    keywords: board games, culture, entertainment, marketing
    soapbox #: 18
    written: February 4th, 1996
    words: 503

"Culture Differences in...Boardgames?", an Essay

This week's commentary is based on an article I read a few weeks ago in the Dallas Morning News called "Marketing Board Games is No Trivial Pursuit," written by Michael Tate and Marin Croft. The article's topic is an odd one, but I think the points it brings up about cultural differences is extremely interesting. See what you think.

The article opens up with a question, "Which country did Trivial Pursuit fail to conquer?" The answer? Japan. Boardgame manufacturers have quickly learned that boardgames which are extremely popular in one country (mainly the U.S.) are duds in other countries.

Some examples? Monopoly, the perfect game for a country with the U.S's economy, failed miserably in Russia. In fact, the only six sets taken to Moscow for show at an exhibition were stolen. Germany and Austria don't allow any war games, games with explosions, hand-held guns, and blood that *isn't* red. Swastikas and pictures are understandably banned from boardgames and aircraft models.

Strangely enough, boardgames are extremely popular in Germany, even with these restrictions. Germans tend to like games with lots of detail and yawn-inducing rulebooks.

On the other side of the coin, if the British play games without having the excuse of children, they're considered "oddballs." However, chess and bridge are acceptable.

In other countries, the English-language versions seem to be most popular. Native-language versions sell horribly.

Isn't it funny how we can see the differences in cultures through things as simple as boardgames? The United States has long been exposed to boardgames and seems to accept anything thrown out on the market. Other countries, interestingly, are much more picky. Boardgames have become tangible representations of culture differences and hindrances. Germany is still riddled with fear, or perhaps guilt, of the Nazi regime, and so it bans all forms of games which remind Germany of WWII. Britain thinks games are for children. I have no idea what that means as far as their cultural preferences. *grin*

In an age where we look forward into the future much more than we look back into the past, it's somewhat rare that we see such clear examples of fearing past history. I do think it's incredibly important that we always use history for reference. It teaches us what worked before and what didn't, and so we can use that information to make more intelligent choices as we storm into the 21st century. The more we find out about the universe, disease, and our own chemical makeup, the more we'll have to use the past as a guide through this infinite frontier.

Kinda makes boardgames sound less entertaining, huh? See if you can invent new games to match today's headlines. How about "Clue: The Whitewater Edition"? Although it wouldn't involve a murder, I'd love to say, "Hillary Clinton with the financial documents in a secret room in the White House." Not bad! Maybe I should start producing boardgames...*sinister grin*



 
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