December 19, 2008

Wahoo the board game

To celebrate my friend Dave's birthday, we went to see The Dark Knight (still showing in discount theaters). Alas, we found that the hype far exceeded the reality. We agreed with the negative reviews (e.g., this and this) more than the positive reviews (e.g., this and this).

Afterward, we played a game called Wahoo at Dave's house:Wahoo, a game similar to Parchisi, is a board game that involves moving a set number of marbles around the board, trying to get them into the safety zone. The game originated in the Appalachian hills. Most boards are used by four to six players. Wahoo has been a popular game for decades. Even today, custom-made boards proliferate on eBay and game manufacturer Parker Brothers has sold their own version of the game, under the title Aggravation, for decades.I fleetingly wondered if the game had any connection to the infamous Chief Wahoo. I asked Dave where the name came from, and he didn't know. The cross-shaped board had no markings to give away its origin.

Now I've learned that there is a connection. Another website gives a different origin for the game:Wahoo is a board game that started in the Southwest area of Texas & Oklahoma about 40 yrs ago. My family played it incessantly when I was a child. All the wooden boards were handmade & painted with American Indian pictures & designs. Apparently the warehouse burned down & the idea for the game was purchased by another company & became Sorry & Trouble.In fact, someone named Chuck Cox started the Traditional Game & Toy Company in 1991 to resume manufacturing Wahoo. He helpfully posted images of old Wahoo boards

as well as the new board he sells:

Hmm. There's no word on whether Traditional Game & Toy Company's next project is a re-release of the Frito Bandito game I played as a child. But that wouldn't surprise me.

Here's a thought, Chuck. While you're updating the Wahoo game, get rid of the stereotypical Indian images. They have nothing to do with the game or its enjoyment. If you must illustrate your boards, pick something that has nothing to do with Indians. Try the four freedoms, the four elements, the Four Musketeers, or whatever.

For more on the subject of Chief Wahoo, see Team Names and Mascots.


Chuck said...

Rob, I just ran across your posting here. Regarding your suggestion that I use characters other than the stereotypical native Americans, I have on my Wahoo Mexicas version. It has authentic Mayan and Aztec characters. I would like to do a new version with authentic Native Americans, but there are so many. What group adequately represents all Native Americans? None. Also, nothing derogatory is meant by using the figures on my game. The only reason I used them is because the Original WAHOO is a replica of the ones popular in the 1960s and my primary customers are people my age that remember the game from then. It outsells my Mexicas game 10 to 1. Thanks for your comentary.

Rob said...

Short answer: Old stereotypes aren't a good excuse for new stereotypes. For a longer answer, see Wahoo Maker Defends Stereotypes.

Unknown said...

Chuck you are absolutely correct making the game as close to the original as you can. I grew up playing aggravation and have found the exact board I played with as a child. It's awesome! Political correctness does not apply to nostalgia! I like your game and I will be purchasing one with the original artwork! Than you Chuck !