Stuffed Crocodile

Mazes, Martians, Mead

[Boardgames] Chińczyk

This is an actual board from a cheap collection of generic games I bought a while ago. I would lie if I said I did not buy this exactly for this board. I had hoped for a few more tokens and things in the collection that would justify buying it, but it turns out that cheap was nearly an understatement for the thing.

But anyway, this one I just bought for the political incorrectness.

Mensch ärgere Dich nicht!is one of the classics of German boardgames. It’s basically a streamlined Pachisi-derivative very similar to Ludo, or Parcheesi. It was invented by in 1907, and sold badly in the beginning, like all true classics.

It’s claim to fame can be traced back to the shrewd marketing moves it’s inventor made during WWI: he gifted a few hundred sets to field hospitals “so the poor injured soldiers have something to do.”

I guess I could have imagined better games to play when wounded and in pain, but the soldiers seemed to like it: the sales figures of the game went up astronomically after the war.

What people often forget about that war is that it was not just Germans in those armies on the German side. Prussia had a large part of Polish people fighting for them, Austria had Hungarians and Czech, and a few others. And all of them got these nice games to play. The result was that this game became popular, and was translated into various European languages. The game is one of the most public domain titles around, pretty much every game company in Germany has at least one version around.

Now, most countries went the route to just translate the title like that (“Man don’t be angry!” or something along those lines). Not so Poland. Here it was called Chińczyk (Chinaman). Why that only the gods, and some ancient half- forgotten marketing executive know. But the designers of the boards are milking that title for all it’s worth. And this board is one of the tamer ones.

I guess there is a reason for that casual racism, and that would be that Poland is a rather homogenic country, with a large part of the society ethnically Polish (and white), with nearly everyone having the same religion (90% Catholicism), and a strong national identity. Now, this picture is of course not completely correct. Poland has been one of the most ethnically diverse countries in Europe up to the end of WWII. Most of the Jewish population left after the war, was driven out in the 60s, some ethnic Germans are left in Silesia, some Muslims are left in Eastern Poland. For the last 60 years or so though Poland was inhabited mostly by Poles.This is changing very slowly: Vietnamese immigrants that came during the 70s and 80s do not actually intend to go back to Vietnam because they grew up in Poland, and some of the bigger cities are slowly attracting people from other countries.But all in all the populace is not really that welcoming for noticably different people. Racism and anti-semitism are incredibly casual, and a lot of generally intelligent, nice people I meet here don’t see anything wrong about making casual racist jokes about that black coworker, just to lighten up the mood a bit.

I guess it doesn’t help the the only way people meet Asian people in their childhood are either those in the Chinaman game, or serve bad knockoff of Chinese food in some hole in the wall…

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