The Rules of The Game

This morning my 5-year-old son brought me a new board game, he got for Christmas, and asked me if we could play it. I started pulling out the game and his brother and sister joined us at the table, to play their new game. As they started to set it up I found the instructions and started to read them out loud. I didn’t get very far before I noticed a problem with the language used to describe the game play. Luckily I was able to adapt and make the necessary changes while I read the instructions aloud to my children. “Pop N Hop The popping, hopping race ‘n’ chase game. Object of the game: To be the first player to get all of his their playing pieces “HOME”. Set-up: Give each player four playing pieces of the same color as his/her (they managed to do it here, why couldn’t they continue through the rest?) corner of the board. These are then placed in the four corner spaces. Each player in turn pops the die. The player popping the highest number will begin the game with all the other players following in a clockwise pattern. Playing: Before a player can move a laying piece out of his their corner he they must first pop a “6”. He They then move a playing piece onto his their “arrow” space, immediately take another pop and may move this or any of his their other playing pieces already in play. A pop of “6” always entitles a player to another pop. If a playing piece ends by landing on a space already occupied by an opponents playing piece then the opponent must return his their piece to one of his their corner spaces. This playing piece can only then be brought back into play with a pop of “6”. A playing piece cannot end its move on a space already occupied by a playing piece of its own color. Another pop of the die must be used, even if this is to the player’s disadvantage. When a playing piece has made one full rotation around the board it enters its own colored “Home”. The opponents’ playing pieces are not permitted on this path. An exact pop is required when moving into “HOME”. Winning the Game: The first player to get all of his their playing pieces “HOME” is the winner.”

After I read my kids the modified rules of the game we proceeded to play. All three of them, including my daughter, had a lot of fun playing the game. Once we finished playing and they were otherwise occupied I began looking into the company that makes the game. I went to their website in preparation for alerting them to my concerns about the noninclusive language used in the games rules. I typed “rules” into their search engine to see how the language used in their other games compared. The search yielded 346 results.  I skimmed the rules of the first 20 results in the search and all but 3 of the “rules of the game” results used gender neutral language to describe game play. The “Green Lantern Dominoes” rules even used the phrasing “her/his” when describing game play. Unfortunately the “Green Lantern Who’s Who” game used only masculine pronouns when describing game players, as did the “Disney Mastermind Towers” game. The third was the “Disney Fairies” game, which used only feminine pronouns in the rules.  I did not read the rest of the 326 results, but it is my hope that someone at the company will. There is no reason for these games not to use gender neutral and/or inclusive language. When they refer to only one gender playing their game, at best they exclude part of their customer base and at worst incur the wrath of an angry feminist (I guess that’d be me), who will bring their company bad publicity. I wrote the company a letter and I encourage anyone who shares my concerns to do the same, their address is: Pressman Toy Corporation, 3701 W. Plano Pkwy STE 100, Plano, TX 75075. I will update this post if and when I get a response from the company.

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