A Cancelled Board Game Revealed How Colonialism Inspires and Haunts Games


On April 7th, prominent publisher of board wargames GMT Games released a statement announcing that they’d pulled a game from their pre-order list: Scramble for Africa. The game, portraying the eponymous invasion of the African continent by European powers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, seemed like one that portrayed the colonial period in Africa in a simplistic way, ultimately rewarding players for being the best at recreating a piece of history that included genocide in Namibia and mass enslavement in the Belgian Congo Free State. It had come under heavy critique from board gamers for, in the words of GMT’s own statement, “both topic and treatment” of its colonialist historical setting.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/vb9gd9/a-cancelled-board-game-revealed-how-colonialism-inspires-and-haunts-games


Aside from a short comment specifying that they were thanking those who were civil in their critique, it was a model response to the situation.

Not really feeling this part of the article. GMT didn’t really discuss why SfA was a shitty implementation, what went wrong in their evaluation process, and blocked folks who had angrily but legitimately criticized their decision to publish SfA.

It’s one thing for a personal account to block someone, and I fully support individuals, even public-facing individuals, being able to do that whenever. A corporate account doing so is another story, particularly when that blocking is part of a PR response designed to try and squelch being called out.


Another game to add to a list of games with a more interesting or thought out take on the colonization in Africa is the “The White Tribe”. It is a solitaire game where you are playing the head of the political party in minority white apartheid government of Rhodesia from 66-80. The goal is to have peaceful transition to a government which is majority black while retaining enough support of the white electorate through elections to see it through and not being defeated military by rebel groups. In reality it was the latter groups that overthrew the white minority rule.