So I'm going to make the assumption that everyone reading this is familiar with the board game Risk. If not, Wikipedia would be more than happy to explain the nature of this board game with the object of world domination. Alright, those who clicked the Wikipedia link, caught up to speed now? Good, good. In my opinion, Risk has always been one of those games high up with Clue and Monopoly, where if you haven't at least played it, you could find a box with ease at a friend's house, a garage sale, or your neighbor's house. For some, the greatness of Risk surpasses games like Battleship, or the above mentioned thoughtful classics. When my boyfriend first found out that Risk was getting a new look, and ditching its older, outdated style, he looked at it with a positive view, saying that he was excited about it. Being someone with a goal of world domination as well, I too was interested at the idea of this new and supposedly improved Risk game. I went to the Hasbro website, where he and I were both immediately disappointed with the images we were being bombarded with. Sure, I expected a more modern look, but what I saw was little more than blatant sexism, enforcing the gender roles expected of men full force. Now I know what you're thinking... "Now now, we see a lot of bad things enforcing silly gender roles, it can't be THAT bad!" Oh yes, naysayers. Yes it can.
The first image you are greeted with on the official Risk website is this:
And for those lovely tidbits you can't see, here's this gem close-up:And yes, that says "bring your foes to their knees..." That ellipsis only furthers the implication that one might think up when seeing things telling players of a game, which apparently you have to be male to play, to "get on their knees" for them. Yyyyeah.
And towards the bottom is this picture, which isn't in the first screen cap:
ARE YOU MAN ENOUGH TO PLAY A BOARDGAME!?!?
A: Unfortunately no, as I was born without a penis. *cries* I guess I just can't take the risk of hurting my fragile female psyche. I'll just go back to the kitchen and make you manly men a sandwich for your intense game... of the board variety. (Also, just noticed this... Is that a pickup truck bed right above the arrow furthest left?)
On this website, the Board Game Geeks review the game before its mainstream release. While browsing through their photo gallery, I came across a card from this game that is also incredibly relevant.
In case the point wasn't driven home enough by the phrase "ARE YOU MAN ENOUGH?" being dropped everywhere like ticker tape in a welcome home parade, they apparently wanted to avoid any possibility of confusion. The winner will be a man. And he gets to demand that people refer to him as sir. I guess the game of Risk is now all about declaring one's self the alpha male.
So, why do I make such a big deal out of all of these things? For one, I hate hate hate gender roles. The idea that playing this game will allow boys to become MEN is ridiculous, because it seems like the only thing it promotes is combat. Since apparently all men want to fight each other all the time, and constantly compete. You're apparently not a man if you don't wish to do that, or so it implies. Another issue I have with this, is that I don't think it's any different from the sexualization of Strawberry Shortcake, as seen and discussed in more detail on Sociological Images. Whereas classic girl things are becoming more "feminine" to fit today's standards, the boy toys are doing the same thing. True, Risk would be intended for an older crowd, but it still puts forth the Axe logic, that men must be demeaned and called something other than men so that they feel inadequate and must purchase said product. Lastly, this frustrates me a great deal because I feel like, as a woman, new Risk doesn't even want my business. Ask anyone who knows me past pointless short talk, and they will confirm that I am quite interested in the prospect of world domination. A game like Risk is right up my alley! But apparently Hasbro (Now with more 'bro!') doesn't feel that women are worth trying to market Risk to. I'll just buy one at a garage sale if I ever want a copy, then.
Sure, this has nothing to do with fat acceptance specifically. But as my ideas and opinions evolve, I wish to keep my blog evolving while I do. Also, I feel I must add that there are so many other things I find annoying with this ad campaign and design overhaul, that I'd rather not get into full detail about, lest it lose the tie-in with gender roles and become a generalized rant. I would like to at least mention, though, based on the overall design (also, pickup truck?) it seems like it's trying to emulate the design of the GO ARMY type campaigns we have in the US. Before, the game of Risk was alright in that aspect, because the characters were set in a time where expansion, conquering, and imperialism were the norms. Seeing this game made modern, and using a United States type army to achieve world domination seems like a very incorrect statement to be making during the time in which we currently live.
What do you feel about the new Risk design change? Both female and males alike, I would love to hear how the images and messages at this site make you feel. Take your comments in any direction you would like; about the gender role norms this reinforces, about how it might work to alienate women, the implications of some of the images and phrases used (i.e. "on their knees" and the pickup truck), or how it makes you feel that they seem to be promoting US world domination.
Thursday, November 20, 2008