Saturday, January 19, 2013

Racist Board Games


1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement,usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others. 

2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination. 
3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races. 


A previous post in Bytes about Nazi and German Propaganda Board games -
made an observation that a society can be judged by its board games. 

The following racist board games are further illustrative of that comment. 


Blacks and Whites 

Based on the game of Monopoly (itself a game created to show how inequalities in society can lead to monopolies, hardship and bankruptcy), this game was actually intended to be anti-racist. It was published as a free game insert in the March 1970 issue of Psychology Today magazine as well as being released as a packaged board game with better components. 

Players are divided into black persons and white persons and have to advance economically while competing each other and buying property. 

The game sought to demonstrate the disadvantages experienced by black people in society. In other words, it tried to show whites what it was like to be black without actually having to do or go anywhere nasty. Hence the white players were the majority, started with a million dollars and could buy property anywhere. The black players, the minority, started with ten thousand dollars, could not buy certain properties, drew from a separate Chance deck and collected less money for completing a lap around the gameboard. Players were encouraged to change the rules when anyone landed on the People's Park space. 

The pictures of black and white people used in the game perpetuated stereotypes: 

According to Time magazine: 
... the black player could not win; as a simulation of frustration, the game was too successful. Then David Popoff, a Psychology Today editor, redesigned the game, taking suggestions from militant black members of “US” in San Diego. The new rules give black players an opportunity to use—and even to beat—the System. 

Did it achieve anything?  One writer has commented that: 
The game was intended to show how unfair life was for the minority races living in America at the time by letting the players experience it without having to actually live it. The irony is that everyone probably still hated each other after the game because, at the end of the day, everyone always hates everyone else by the time a game of Monopoly is done.



Ghettopoly was another game based on Monopoly and, although a parody, has been criticised as being the most offensive, racist game ever. It was invented by David Chang and released in 2003. 

Some aspects: 

  • The four railroad properties have been changed to liquor stores, with other properties including a massage parlour, a pawn shop and a peep show. 
  • The Community Chest and Chance squares were changed to Ghetto Stash and Hustle squares. 
  • Penalty squares were changed to Police Shakedown and Carjacking squares. 
  • Instead of building houses and hotels, players built crack houses and projects. 
  • The game tokens included a pimp, an alcohol bottle, a machine gun, a marijuanha leaf, a crack rock and a basketball. 

Players bought stolen property, pimped hoes, built crack houses, paid protection money, got car jacked and, if there was no money to pay the loan shark, players might end up in the Emergency Room. 
The game was pulled from the market by the sellers, Urban Outfitters, because of the controversy generated by it. Change kept marketing the game himself but ended up being sued by Monopoly. Chang did not pass Go and did not collect $200; instead he was ordered to pay $400,000 to Hasbro, the owners of the Monopoly copyright. 


Darkies in the Melon Patch

Put out by The Hudson Brothers Publishing Company, this was an early Americana Snakes and Ladders style game depicting misrepresented stereotypical images of blacks in the 30's. Players reached the end space first by rolling a die and avoiding pitfall spaces. 

One site advances an argument that the game is a counterfeit recent invention: 


Five Little Nigger Boys: 

The following item is a game but not a board game.  It serves as a stark reminder of where we have come from in terms of attitudes and behaviour, and how abhorrent racism is. The photograph is from 2005 from an auction site,

The description of the auction lot is as follows: 

Chad Valley target game with rubber band gun and lithographed cardboard figures along with man eating watermelon die cut paper target 

I have not been able to learn anything more about it.

There is another pic at:

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