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  • Fuss over King Philip's War Boardgame

    Saw this interesting article on Yahoo today.
    Settlers-vs.-Indians board game rankles tribes

    I was somewhat stunned by what I read. I know we live in a "politically correct" world but I thought this was a bit rediculous. I guess I never really thought of people being offended by a game based in history. From what I've read the game designer, a middle school history/english teacher, did his research, although the native americans interviewed for the article apparently want more input. However, MultiManPublishing and part owner Curt Schilling (I didnt know he was part owner) seem to be handling it pretty well.

    "If everyone intent on keeping historical events stopped at content that might seem offensive, we'd lose sight of the horrific mistakes this nation, the world and the human race are capable of, and that would be a horrific thing," Schilling said in an e-mail sent through his publicist.
    Im glad to see the company sticking up for the game and designer although the article says the designer did make some changes after "bowing to the reaction."

    But I guess the old saying can apply "All publicity is good publicity."

    Your thoughts?

    Thanks for looking!!

  • #2
    Originally posted by SoccerDJ View Post
    Saw this interesting article on Yahoo today.
    Settlers-vs.-Indians board game rankles tribes

    I was somewhat stunned by what I read. I know we live in a "politically correct" world but I thought this was a bit rediculous. I guess I never really thought of people being offended by a game based in history.
    Really ? I can easily see this happening--depends on the game and what it is intended to do, depends on the history and how well it is done, and it depends on the different people and how they see the events that have been turned into the game.

    It's difficult to judge from the article. There could be a lot of things going on. For one thing, and at a very trivial level, it's called a "game" which involves "playing." For many, if not most people (no, not the ones here ), that does imply a trivialization. I am serious, but if they called it a "simulation" it might have gone over better.

    The other thing is that it seems to be marketed as an educational tool for schools. If that's the case, then it ups the ante and they really needed to work with Native Americans. For example, the whole "our Puritan ancestors" thing indicates a more than normal level of cluelessness, not to mention a historical tin ear (the notorious "Nos anctres, les Gaulois" in colonial Vietnam springs to mind). If that's indicative, there might have been a lot wrong with the game.

    This was an interesting find BTW. I've been thinking a bit recently about historical games and their value (or lack thereof) in teaching history. The fact that people feel this game is worth debating indicates they feel there is some value to it.
    Every 10 years a great man.
    Who paid the bill?

    Comment


    • #3
      I read this article last night, and was very surprised that this is getting so much attention. I haven't seen the game, but the criticism seems to be pretty weak. Basically since King Philip's War was a "tragedy" (what war isn't?), creating a board game about it is offensive. By that logic, no war should be represented in a board game. Where's the outcry over Axis & Allies?

      BTW, the creator of the game has posted here at ACG in the past in a discussion of King Philip's War.
      "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there."

      Comment


      • #4
        Just because a person has designed a game doesn't mean it is a good game. But by the same token there is no reason to assume it is a bad game just because someone or some people dislike it.

        I've seen some odd reactions to board games though over the years.

        The total best in the oddly funny due to an idiot reviewer has to be Line in the Sand admonished on TV by some idiot as being not a suitable way to support the troops then fighting the first Gulf War.
        Oh I so wish I could have been their to tell the fool to STFU no one is playing the game to 'support the troops' at all.

        I only play wargames to experience some what ifs while killing time enjoying a subject that generally interests me.

        The only reason for the Native Americans to have a beef, is if the research is sloppy. Granted, history is sometimes opinion driven too. He might have the facts right, and still **** them off.
        Life is change. Built models for decades.
        Not sure anyone here actually knows the real me.
        I didn't for a long time either.

        Comment


        • #5
          This GAME is only a GAME.

          But the Liberal media will fan the flames for PC correctness.

          Maybe the liberal media will now go after anyone who plays "Chutes & Ladders"....
          Kevin Kenneally
          Masters from a school of "hard knocks"
          Member of a Ph.D. Society (Post hole. Digger)

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by SoccerDJ View Post
            From what I've read the game designer, a middle school history/english teacher, did his research, although the native americans interviewed for the article apparently want more input. However, MultiManPublishing and part owner Curt Schilling (I didnt know he was part owner) seem to be handling it pretty well.
            He founded MMP and bought the rights to ASL when Avalon Hill folded. I used to playtest scenarios with Perry (mentioned in the article) and one of the other MMP eminences. Never met Curt though.
            Last edited by Zaraath; 17 Apr 10, 23:34.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by SoccerDJ
              although the native americans interviewed for the article apparently want more input.
              Are they (the people complaining, mostly ancestors of tribes not even involved in the conflict) somehow sitting on historical data from 335 years ago that isn't available in the public domain?

              If I wanted to make a wargame studying the crusades, should I find ancestors of the Muslim Defenders of Jerusalem and ask for their input?

              It really seems the people offended and protesting clearly don't understand the hobby of wargaming. They fail to understand it is not a way to glorify war or killing, but a way to study history, and the reasons why events happened and a gateway to the broader world of the past.

              I guess they don't realize the target consumers of this product would start doing their own research on the conflict and learn a great deal more about all sides in it. I guess they are under the impression wargamers are like 16 year old teenagers that play for blood and watching massacres or something. Shows their ignorance on the matter, I guess to the uninformed the term "game" can be a bit misleading.
              Кто там?
              Это я - Почтальон Печкин!
              Tunis is a Carthigenian city!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Stryker 19K30 View Post
                Are they (the people complaining, mostly ancestors of tribes not even involved in the conflict) somehow sitting on historical data from 335 years ago that isn't available in the public domain?

                If I wanted to make a wargame studying the crusades, should I find ancestors of the Muslim Defenders of Jerusalem and ask for their input?

                It really seems the people offended and protesting clearly don't understand the hobby of wargaming. They fail to understand it is not a way to glorify war or killing, but a way to study history, and the reasons why events happened and a gateway to the broader world of the past.

                I guess they don't realize the target consumers of this product would start doing their own research on the conflict and learn a great deal more about all sides in it. I guess they are under the impression war gamers are like 16 year old teenagers that play for blood and watching massacres or something. Shows their ignorance on the matter, I guess to the uninformed the term "game" can be a bit misleading.
                Most of them don't understand the hobby they are just fishing for publicity or they were making a knee jerk reaction.

                One of the Indian spokespersons makes clear that she never spoke to the company or reviewed the product until after the protest.

                of course the media is finding a way to slant the opinions of people unfamiliar with the hobby. Did you notice that statement: "MultiManPublishing, which specializes in games that simulate violent combat, plans to distribute the game as soon as it gets enough orders to justify it.

                The bold text on violent was my addition. Notice they could say games that simulate combat, games that simulate history, games that simulate conflict, warfare, or battles. No they had to stress violence.

                I know the designer John Poniske. Is is a mild spoken gentleman who is active with his church's youth groups. He also designs non-wargames and is active at gaming conventions running games for kids and family members to occupy them while dad or hubby is getting his wargame fix.

                It is ridiculous that anyone should try to hang the term violent on a paper wargame in the era of gore dripping video games, movies and TV. Especially not a game by John Poniske.
                Last edited by Widow Maker; 18 Apr 10, 15:31.
                "Put guards on all the roads, and don't let the men run to the rear."
                Major General John Buford's final words on his deathbed.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I see both sides to this, probably because I have a foot in both camps. I play wargames and I work with Native Americans.

                  With this King Philips game, the tribe seems to fall out into two basic positions

                  1) Any simulation of the conflict is bad. It trivializes by making war entertainment. That's not about this game per se, as about the industry and pastime as a whole. Personally I think wargames do tread a fine line there and designers do have rules (conscious and unconscious ) about what they should and shouldn't represent in games. Wargames bracket off a very specific bit of history, usually revolving around the technical aspects of military maneuver. There are no civilians , columns of refugees needing suppies, or einsatzgruppen. That would make it more realistic but it would be in incredibly bad taste, so wargaming is in kind of a lose/lose situation there. On the other hand wargamers do not see gaming as historical education, but as a kind of historically grounded chess--problem-solving with different sets of rules and challenges depending on the game. "It's just a game;" it has no immediate value beyond entertainment. I think most people don't get that.

                  2) The second position is that the concept is fine, but this particular game is flawed, because the tribes were not consulted. Basically it is a question of the quality of the research. If someone wrote a scholarly history of a contact-period conflict without doing any kind of consultation or research with the tribes involved, they'd be slammed. But again this isn't a book "it is just a game." The designer probably just worked off published histories--if the published histories are one-sided or dated then the game is one-sided and dated. Game designers aren't historians, and games aren't history. It doesn't seem fair to hold them to the same standards.

                  BUT here's the problem--if a game is marketed as educational, then it's not "just a game." The designer has taken on responsibility to groups other than just wargamers, especially if the game is about a conflict between two cultures . And I think the conventions and the very nature of wargaming make King Philips War a very hard one to do in an educationally-redeeming way. But may be the designer pulled it off, I don't know.

                  I do have a feeling that that the game was not intended for anyone beyond wargamers, and when the first criticisms came out the company went for "education" as a very poorly thought-out fallback, not thinking about how much that would fuel the fire.

                  I also have a feeling this will probably be a very big seller for the company, just because of this controversy.
                  Every 10 years a great man.
                  Who paid the bill?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Widow Maker View Post
                    Most of them don't understand the hobby they are just fishing for publicity or they were making a knee jerk reaction.

                    One of the Indian spokespersons makes clear that she never spoke to the company or reviewed the product until after the protest.

                    of course the media is finding a way to slant the opinions of people unfamiliar with the hobby. Did you notice that statement: "MultiManPublishing, which specializes in games that simulate violent combat, plans to distribute the game as soon as it gets enough orders to justify it.

                    The bold text on violent was my addition. Notice they could say games that simulate combat, games that simulate history, games that simulate conflict, warfare, or battles. No they had to stress violence.

                    I know the designer John Poniske. Is is a mild spoken gentleman who is active with his church's youth groups. He also designs non-wargames and is active at gaming conventions running games for kids and family members to occupy them while dad or hubby is getting his wargame fix.

                    It is ridiculous that anyone should try to hang the term violent on a paper wargame in the era of gore dripping video games, movies and TV. Especially not a game by John Poniske.
                    It is pretty ridiculous indeed. Yes war is violent, but a classic counter driven tabletop wargame puts zero emphasis on the violence. Of course anyone reading this post knows this.

                    Perhaps they should go to a wargaming convention and see the type of people that will purchase this product, and see how those playing the game probably have a better understanding of the history of the conflict than them.
                    Кто там?
                    Это я - Почтальон Печкин!
                    Tunis is a Carthigenian city!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Zemlekop View Post
                      I see both sides to this, probably because I have a foot in both camps. I play wargames and I work with Native Americans.

                      With this King Philips game, the tribe seems to fall out into two basic positions

                      1) Any simulation of the conflict is bad. It trivializes by making war entertainment. That's not about this game per se, as about the industry and pastime as a whole. Personally I think wargames do tread a fine line there and designers do have rules (conscious and unconscious ) about what they should and shouldn't represent in games. Wargames bracket off a very specific bit of history, usually revolving around the technical aspects of military maneuver. There are no civilians , columns of refugees needing suppies, or einsatzgruppen. That would make it more realistic but it would be in incredibly bad taste, so wargaming is in kind of a lose/lose situation there. On the other hand wargamers do not see gaming as historical education, but as a kind of historically grounded chess--problem-solving with different sets of rules and challenges depending on the game. "It's just a game;" it has no immediate value beyond entertainment. I think most people don't get that.

                      2) The second position is that the concept is fine, but this particular game is flawed, because the tribes were not consulted. Basically it is a question of the quality of the research. If someone wrote a scholarly history of a contact-period conflict without doing any kind of consultation or research with the tribes involved, they'd be slammed. But again this isn't a book "it is just a game." The designer probably just worked off published histories--if the published histories are one-sided or dated then the game is one-sided and dated. Game designers aren't historians, and games aren't history. It doesn't seem fair to hold them to the same standards.

                      BUT here's the problem--if a game is marketed as educational, then it's not "just a game." The designer has taken on responsibility to groups other than just wargamers, especially if the game is about a conflict between two cultures . And I think the conventions and the very nature of wargaming make King Philips War a very hard one to do in an educationally-redeeming way. But may be the designer pulled it off, I don't know.

                      I do have a feeling that that the game was not intended for anyone beyond wargamers, and when the first criticisms came out the company went for "education" as a very poorly thought-out fallback, not thinking about how much that would fuel the fire.

                      I also have a feeling this will probably be a very big seller for the company, just because of this controversy.
                      I don't think the designer has any responsibility to consult with the tribe in anyway. It was 335 years ago. Are game designers required to consult with the French Government when covering Napoleonic Wars, how would he consult with the CSA during the design of an ACW game. There is plenty of recorded history out there regarding this. Even from the Native point of view. Why should he be required to go talk to people from the tribe if the history is available?

                      Most wargames are about conflicts between 2 cultures as usually wars are fought between 2 cultures.

                      "Game designers aren't historians, and games aren't history."

                      Not all, but some are, and some are amateur historians

                      "On the other hand wargamers do not see gaming as historical education, but as a kind of historically grounded chess--problem-solving with different sets of rules and challenges depending on the game. "It's just a game;" it has no immediate value beyond entertainment."

                      I would not agree with that statement. I see wargaming as historical education. Almost everything I learned about WW1 Naval history came from wargaming, as well as the Russo-Japanese War. I started playing naval miniatures to learn about the history.

                      These 2 things opened the door for me to see why the conflicts happened, which lead to me learning much about the history of those time periods other than war.

                      Not all wargamers game to learn or understand history, but there are a large number of us that do.

                      Until any of us play the game we can't comment on the historical accuracy of it, but I guarantee playing it would make me research the history of it more.

                      Also, I have played several wargames that include civilians, refugees, war crime events etc. FYI.
                      Кто там?
                      Это я - Почтальон Печкин!
                      Tunis is a Carthigenian city!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Stryker 19K30 View Post
                        I don't think the designer has any responsibility to consult with the tribe in anyway. It was 335 years ago. Are game designers required to consult with the French Government when covering Napoleonic Wars, how would he consult with the CSA during the design of an ACW game. There is plenty of recorded history out there regarding this. Even from the Native point of view. Why should he be required to go talk to people from the tribe if the history is available?
                        I don't know about responsibility. I suppose I would see it as a responsibility if I did it, but others might not--in research there's no list of things that you are and aren't responsible for. You do as much or as little as you think you need to do what you want, and take the heat accordingly, or not, as the case may be. To rephrase what I said, a professional historian would take some heat, but is it fair to hold a game designer to the same standard?

                        I disagree that there is plenty of recorded history from the Native point of view. This is actually very rarely the case, especially in 17th-century America. Here we are dealing with one side that kept written records, and another that didn't. That's a built-in bias in the historical record. Working around that is a big issue in contact-period history. Without goign into detail it's hard multidisciplinary stuff and unless there is published material, it's not something one can reasonably expect a game designer to undertake. But I do think at the very least consulting a tribal historian would have been a minimal courtesy. I mean, given I am purporting to educate other people about their history and their culture. It just seems..polite.

                        Most wargames are about conflicts between 2 cultures as usually wars are fought between 2 cultures.
                        True enough, but here the historical context is contact period, which is a whole different thing from, say, French vs. British. Here the two cultures had very little idea about each other, and that affected how they interacted and behaved. The Contact-Period wars were as much about grinding worldviews ("cultures") as they were about military maneuvres. Does that come through in the game, if indeed it is intended as an educational tool? Should it? What is the game supposed to teach? I don't know . Also there is the unfortunate fact that history of one of the cultures represented in the game is known to most Americans only through cheesy Hollywood movies. Does the game go beyond that? Again, I don't know.

                        "On the other hand wargamers do not see gaming as historical education, but as a kind of historically grounded chess--problem-solving with different sets of rules and challenges depending on the game. "It's just a game;" it has no immediate value beyond entertainment."

                        I would not agree with that statement. I see wargaming as historical education. Almost everything I learned about WW1 Naval history came from wargaming, as well as the Russo-Japanese War. I started playing naval miniatures to learn about the history.

                        These 2 things opened the door for me to see why the conflicts happened, which lead to me learning much about the history of those time periods other than war.

                        Not all wargamers game to learn or understand history, but there are a large number of us that do.
                        Fair enough. That puts you on the "A game is not just a game" side. To me what this means though, is that the games get debated as some form of historical scholarship, and getting smacked around by interested parties is just something one has to deal with. No point taking offence, just comes with the territory.

                        I confess I go backwards and forwards on the historical educational value of games.

                        Until any of us play the game we can't comment on the historical accuracy of it, but I guarantee playing it would make me research the history of it more.
                        I agree with this. Games can act as goad to reading further, often regardless of their actual historical worth--Dungeons and Dragons was a HUGE inspiration for me to research medieval social history (but I don't think D&D should be taught in schools ).

                        Also, I have played several wargames that include civilians, refugees, war crime events etc. FYI.
                        OK. But I doubt these modelled terror and starvation of civilians as an instrument of policy for one or both sides (as in contact-period warfare).
                        Every 10 years a great man.
                        Who paid the bill?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Zaraath View Post
                          He founded MMP and bought the rights to ASL when Avalon Hill folded. I used to playtest scenarios with Perry (mentioned in the article) and one of the other MMP eminences. Never met Curt though.
                          So are you still involved with ASL?

                          Or have you gone on to other games?
                          Kevin Kenneally
                          Masters from a school of "hard knocks"
                          Member of a Ph.D. Society (Post hole. Digger)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            For example, the whole "our Puritan ancestors" thing indicates a more than normal level of cluelessness, not to mention a historical tin ear (the notorious "Nos anctres, les Gaulois" in colonial Vietnam springs to mind)
                            Zem, part of the problem is that people take popular assumptions as historical fact. The French founded the "French School of the Far-East, which did for Indochina what Napoleon did for Egyptian studies. Much of what is today known to Vietnamese and Cambodian scholars about their early history, came from French archeologists, explorers, linguists, ethnographers, and historians. In Vietnam, the Imperial Court was confucian, and the confucian attitude was: It it is not in an official document, then it is of no importance. And the problem there was the Imperial scribes not only wrote history to please the King (later the Nguyen Emperors), but re-wrote it on occasion in accord with the views of the latest occupant on the throne. Well, at least in the U.S., we rewrite history to accord with the views of those who decide what is politically correct.
                            dit: Lirelou

                            Phong trần mi một lưỡi gươm, Những loi gi o ti cơm s g!

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by lirelou View Post
                              Zem, part of the problem is that people take popular assumptions as historical fact. The French founded the "French School of the Far-East, which did for Indochina what Napoleon did for Egyptian studies. Much of what is today known to Vietnamese and Cambodian scholars about their early history, came from French archeologists, explorers, linguists, ethnographers, and historians. In Vietnam, the Imperial Court was confucian, and the confucian attitude was: It it is not in an official document, then it is of no importance. And the problem there was the Imperial scribes not only wrote history to please the King (later the Nguyen Emperors), but re-wrote it on occasion in accord with the views of the latest occupant on the throne. Well, at least in the U.S., we rewrite history to accord with the views of those who decide what is politically correct.
                              Lirelou, I am having trouble pulling your widely-separated examples into a single thesis. Is it that history writing is always political? It seems to be, but then your use of "politically correct" (whatever that means) in the last sentence indicates that you think it should be otherwise.

                              This is moving beyond gaming into what goes into writing history. I wonder if it should be moved.
                              Every 10 years a great man.
                              Who paid the bill?

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