The ‘War on Terror’ was once just a violent hobby for greedy imperialists. Now, courtesy of TerrorBull Games, it’s also a boardgame! That’s right, now everyone can experience the thrill of waging war on an abstract noun – and liberate the world in the process.
This is either a brilliant piece of political satire or the most cynical game since the release of the computer game Postal (you got to play a berserk post office worker who runs around shooting innocent bystanders. I wish I were making that up). Or maybe both.
Hmmm, having done a little research I’m leaning towards satire. These may be the two best quotes from a press release ever:
“We wanted to diffuse the language of terrorism – it’s being (ab)used by governments and the unquestioning media to control people and instil them with fear. Instead, we want people to laugh at it. We want families blowing each other up, funding regime changes and bickering over oil – all with a smile on their face. Once we’ve reclaimed the language of fear then maybe an honest discussion can start.” — Andrew Sheerin, director TerrorBull Games
“Since our first prototype for the Axis of Evil spinner we’ve had nearly three years of war in Iraq, suicide bombers in London and the only weapons of mass destruction I’ve spotted are being used by us. Some people suggest that turning the War on Terror into a boardgame is a tad insensitive. I always reply that starting a war is insensitive, a boardgame is just fun for the family.” — Andy Tompkins, director TerrorBull Games
Not surprisingly War On Terror: The Boardgame has set off quite the contretemps among over at the Board Game Geek (on line home for all of us who prefer cardboard to computer when it comes to games). While most of the discussion falls into the typical dichotomy of “that’s too awful” vs. “ha ha you politically correct wimps,” one poster nails it:
Seriously though, your “playing the game” page seems to hint at some small promise of an actual game and not just a theme of the moment. I was kind of wondering when someone would take a shot at “mechanizing” the current state of world politics into a game. I just didn’t think it would look like something out of MAD Magazine. I suppose that’s probably a better approach to try and sell something than making a “serious” game with this theme. After all what do any of us really know about the War on Terror? It’s not like John Stewart and the daily show aren’t taking the same approach. Satire, we laugh because it would hurt too much to cry about it.
Back in 1984 I won a tournament of a game called Nuclear War – in which “each player represents a ‘major world power’ and attempts to gain world domination through the strategic use of propaganda or nuclear weapons…” The currency of the game is millions of people and mega-ton nuclear warheads. Same game, different world.*
FWIW: An update on this can be found here if you are interested.
*I also own a very limited edition t-shirt which reads on the back “The Rat’s Back and he’s ready to party.” And on the front “1385 – 1985 Celebrating 600 years of bubonic plague.” As Lou Reed put it: Those were different times.