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