火曜日, 8月 31, 2004

Politically Incorrect Board Games...

...make me realize I'm uncomfortable with history.
    The #1 ranked game out of thousands reviewed and discussed on the huge site boardgamegeek.com is "Puerto Rico". Although 16th century Puerto Rico repels me as a setting for a game because of the evils of colonialism and slavery, I succumbed to the hype (that it is a game of infinite depth and strategy) and bought the game yesterday at Yellow Submarine otaku supply store in Sannomiya. I think now after reading this thread (after I had already bought it) that I should have trusted my initial impression and avoided this game, which is blatantly politically incorrect.
    This is what I bought at Yellow Submarine after my online research and before the typhoon confined me indoors last night. Now comes the hard part - bugging people to play them with me.

1) Puerto Rico - Will "brilliant and innovative gameplay" overcome my moral repugnance for playing the part of thinly disguised colonial slaveholders?

2) The Settlers of Catan - Capcom Standard Version
    Although everyone who plays this game seems to love it regardless of cultural and ethnic background, and it's so abstract it's not representative of any particular place or period of history, there are some issues here too. First of all, the colonization theme. We're led to assume that the island is uninhabited when the settlers arrive, but if so who is the "robber" figure? And why is the "robber" black? I was swept up in the hype over this game and forgot my initial discomfort with this aspect of it, until reminded of it again by Puerto Rico. Maybe the choice of color for the robber is unintentional, but I'll paint mine a different color anyway to express my lack of complicity with board game racism.

3) Carcassonne Hunters & Gatherers - According to my online research, this seems to be the most played of the "Carcassonne" series of tile-laying games. I think it will be a good one to have because it can be played with two players, and it's not very big or complicated so I can take it around with me in my backpack and inflict it on...I mean teach it to...my language exchange partners.

4) Die Neuen Entdecker - They didn't have Sid Meier's "Civilization the Board Game" or "Tigris and Euphrates" at Yellow Submarine. However, both Tokyu Hands and Yellow Submarine had this one (YS was 2000 yen cheaper!) and boardgamegeek reviewed it favorably, so I bought it. It's by Klaus Teuber, the creator of Settlers, but more importantly it looks fun in its own way. It reminds me of the exploration part of Civilization, the PC game.
    Except for Settlers, which is in Japanese, the games are all in German, which makes me feel like a total nerd if I didn't already, but I just printed out the English rules from the boardgamegeek site. I also don't even know how to play any of them yet except Settlers. Minor details.
    I'm not sure if I mentioned this before, but the last time we played Cranium it seemed very culturally biased - there is no way the Japanese players could answer the questions. It wasn't a language thing - it was culture. Games are unnervingly culturally specific sometimes - what is fun for one group of people can be offensive if carried overseas. Well, video games aren't that way, but board games tend to be - is it because most board games are created in Europe or America and most video games are created in Japan? Actually, it's not true that video games that are okay in Japan are never considered offensive overseas. Come to think of it, that happens a lot, too - see this article about the "Twin" monster in SH4. My copy of SH4 has the "Twin" in it (shudder).

    I'm also TEACHING soon (it's about time). I'm trying to encourage my 360 students to interact with me more by giving them stamp-cards for extra credit for either talking to me outside of class or keeping an English diary. I presented my idea to my two co-teachers at the lesson planning meeting today, and they seemed impressed. They think I'm going to have a lot of work on my hands, though, correcting 360 students' journals or talking to them individually. I'm not sure how many students will actually do it though, so I'm not scared yet about the effects this will have on my copious amounts of free time. If I lost ten hours a week for every time I told another teacher "I'd like to be busier" - well, I'd still have free time at school to spare.


  • At 4:17 午後, Blogger butterflyblue said…

    Finally got a chance to play Carcassonne Hunters & Gatherers on Friday. It's a good game. PLAY IT WITH ME YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO. Supposedly you can play this, Catan and other board games online, but I've never been able to do it.

  • At 2:01 午後, Anonymous 匿名 said…

    We're led to assume that the island is uninhabited when the settlers arrive, but if so who is the "robber" figure? And why is the "robber" black? I never gave it tooo much thought, but considering that the player who rolls a 7 or plays a knight gets to determine the placement of the robber, *and* take a resource from someone, I suspect he's a pillaging infantryman. >D

    Incidentally, I feel weird posting comments in your blog, because I'd rather just discuss stuff with you when I see you.


  • At 1:11 午後, Blogger butterflyblue said…

    That's a good way to see it. Instead of painting the robber in my set, I replaced it with a toy miniature sake bottle I happened to have lying around. See, young people from all the settlements deserted and formed their own camp, where they just drink sake and party all day long, stealing supplies from the fields. You use the soldier card to move them along to someone else's property.
    Yeah, we can talk about it in person next time. After reading the thread that was talking about possible racism in the games I felt troubled and wanted to comment on it, that's all.

  • At 1:24 午後, Blogger butterflyblue said…

    Preliminary results of the conversation card/diary card experiment: So far none of the students have come to me to use their conversation cards - I'm alone and bored as usual during most of the school day. BUT, four students have turned in their English diaries to me, and this is really cool. I enjoyed reading their journal entries and responding to them. It's so hard to have any real interaction with students when you only see them for half an hour a week, and when there are 360 of them you can't even learn all their names. I'm glad I started the journal thing. It gives me hope that I can interact with some of them in a real way and help them with English. Desperately trying to fight the disillusionment that crept in sometime during my first year.

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