Hasbro thinks women aren’t worth the Risk

The game company is subtly discouraging women from buying Risk with an ad campaign featuring images like

risk1

God, I hope not.

Now I have no doubt that the overwhelming majority of people who play one of my all-time least-favorite board games are — biologically speaking — guys. However up until this point the marketing to guys was more implied than overt. That was a good thing for a couple of reasons. 1) It allowed boys some chance of getting their sisters to play. 2) It didn’t discourage 50% of the population from buying the damn thing.

Anyone who thinks I am reading to much into the “Man Up” campaign should attempt to play the online version “Risk Factor.” It features things like

risk3

Oh, no. You are NOT talking about MY mama, are you?

Furthermore, if you sign up to play and do not give a nickname one is assigned to you. But not all nicknames are acceptable as was pointed out in the splendid blog Sociological Images:

I tried a series of names: “Fred”, “Thomas” and “Patrick” went through fine, but if I tried “Melissa” “Jessica” or “Natasha”, the system wouldn’t accept them, and I was told to “Keep it clean, please.”

If you don’t choose a nickname yourself, the system will assign you one. I suppose they are meant to be humiliating names: I got “Bubbles”, “Cupcake”, “Jelly belly”, “Violet” and “Daisy”.

The game platform is a floating island, full of clickable objects. Among them: a facial hair selector, a chainsaw, a TV which exclusively plays footage of girls dancing in a club, a giant finger to pull (which emits gas), etc.

Doubtless Hasbro would defend this all as being meant in “good fun” and bring out the “humorless political correctness” defense. To which I would point out that A) humor is supposed to be funny and; B) The campaign doesn’t work because it’s nothing but tired cliches (which is itself a tired cliche). Hasbro could easily played both sides of the gender fence (and gotten a laugh or two) by using the idea of a tough guy named Bubbles. (And the truly tough frequently do have names like that. When you are tough enough your name is always the same: Respect.)

How about “Are you going to let someone named Sunflower Rainbow kick your ass all the way to Irktusk?” That was you appeal to both the Sunflower Rainbows and Richard Steels of the world.

I think it only fair to note that not playing Risk has been seen as a cause of military blunders. As Prof. Eddie Izzard notes: “In the ’30s, Hitler: Czechoslovakia, Poland, France, Second World War… Russian front not a good idea… Hitler never played Risk when he was a kid. Cause, you know, playing Risk, you could never hold on to Asia. That Asian-Eastern European area, you could never hold it, could you? Seven extra men at the beginning of every go, but you couldn’t fucking hold it.

Sadly, Prof. Izzard’s theory was discredited when it was discovered that George W. Bush had played Risk.

A big thanks to Mrs. CollateralDamage for pointing this out.!

3 thoughts on “Hasbro thinks women aren’t worth the Risk

  1. It’s a war game of world domination. Sorry, but last I checked that was a guy thing.
    Hasbro knows what they are doing. I love it.

  2. You know, I’m willing to bet that Hasbro has done plenty of focus group testing and they’ve discovered that the overwhelming majority of their Risk game players are male. With that information in hand, does it seem at all unreasonable that they’d cater their Risk associated advertising and content toward males? I don’t think so at all. In fact, I’d call it good business sense – and I think you must be able to see that on some level. For instance, you don’t seem to be at all concerned with the fact that Mattel’s Barbie dolls are very focused on the female market. Why is that? Is it because you realize how foolish it would be to try to make ‘gender neutral’ advertising and product literature for a product that is overwhelmingly sought after by females? Yeah, I think that you probably do realize that. So, why are you so angry when Hasbro does the same thing to cater their product toward a male market? The difference in your attitude couldn’t be simple hypocrisy, could it?

  3. Hypocrisy, I doubt. You can always make a strong case for stupidity around here, FYI. I suspect the issue is one of perspective — I know a lot of female board gamers. This is probably not reflective of the entire population but it’s what I know. As for Barbie — actually most of the people I know with huge Barbie collections are men (see also: Smithers, Wayland) and they like the marketing the way it is. In certain segments of the testosterone enhanced population a little glamor goes a long way.

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