Friday, June 18, 2004

Playing with the World

The New Game of Human Life, 1790

The New Game of Human Life encouraged young players to develop proper moral character, learning the exigencies of the seven stages of life ... while navigating the paths of vice and virtue.

Pank-a-Squith, 1910

The goal of this board game is to reach the Houses of Parliament, the pinnacle of achievement for the campaign for Woman’s Suffrage. Although designed to be humorous, the images evoke the darker side of the campaign, making reference to police violence against women protesters and the force-feeding of imprisoned hunger strikers.

The Church at Play, a Manual for Directors of Social and Recreational Life, 1922

The Puritans of early America extolled the benefits of industry and the inherent evils of idleness. These values became ingrained in mainstream American culture and are communicated in this 1922 church handbook. It describes games and activities designed to educate church members and to attract new members. The book warns of the dangers of idleness, but praises controlled leisure activities as a means of "advancing civilization."

Home Play in Wartime, 1943 and Playing Mahjong, 1943

The Relocation Program: A Guidebook (for Japanese internment camps) states that pastimes such as Mahjong, including non odori, shibai, go, and flower arranging - which have no political implications - were freely permitted.


And in case you think we don't still do this, check out Hasbro's Careers Game, The Game of Life or even Chutes and Ladders (the, um, non-pagan version of Snakes and Ladders). And let's not forget games like Old Maid or Mystery Date old and new.


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