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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Not So Hungry Hippo

It’s obvious that board games offer a distorted picture of real life. The Game of Life is a good example. It’s physically impossible for players to land on a ‘have children’ spot before they pass the ‘get married’ stage, unrealistically eliminating one of the main reasons people get married in the first place. Everyone gets to have a house, and there’s no student loan cards even if you choose to go to college. And to top it off, you get to retire in all perpetuity without dying. They could have at least added in a final death card to give it an air of authenticity, with a chunk of your ultimate earnings going towards funeral expenses and death taxes.

Monopoly goes in the opposite direction from this false paradise, offering a view of a harsh, unforgiving life in which land owners must still pay rent, are arbitrarily jailed and released by a fascist state, and nobody can ever, ever just stay home.

Then there’s the Hungry Hungry Hippos game, promoting the idea of hippos as chubby, loveable larks. And admittedly, they’re quite cute when they’re babies. But hippos also hold the prize for being the number one human-killing animal in all of Africa, far surpassing ‘scarier’ animals like crocodiles, lions, tigers, hunting dogs and rhinos. Why? Well, one reason is hippos are unusually aggressive and tend to attack without provocation. Another reason, yet to be explored in depth by the scientific community, is that people have been lulled by childhoods playing unrealistic board games and are approaching adorable hippos en masse to offer them a snack.

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