US Catholic Faith in Real Life

The most offensive game ever?

Scott Alessi | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Move over, Milton Bradley, there's a new board game on the market this holiday season--but this game isn't exactly in the spirit of giving.

It was announced today that game makers have released a board game that doesn't just attack the president, it makes fun of people who are struggling during one of the worst economic periods in America's history. The game is called "Obozo's America: Why Bother Working for a Living?" and you can buy it online, but be warned, their website is quite offensive.

The game itself isn't a new idea. It was released in the 1980s under the name "Public Assistance," but was banned from the market when a number of advocacy groups protested it as being "callous, racist, sexist, and a vicious brand of stereotyping." But unlike the 80s, now anyone can create a website and sell their products online (the game, however, is still not available in stores). The reboot, touted on the game's website as "the most timely and original board game of the decade," features essentially the same premise but adds the character of "Obozo the Marxist Clown."

Calling the president a Marxist is neither clever nor accurate, and is at best an oversimplification of the administration's policies across the board. But political satire and making fun of the president is both an American tradition and a Constitutional right (and if you have something to say about him, why not take our survey on Obama's presidency thus far and voice your opinion). But the portrayal of the president is far from being the worst thing about this game.

What's truly offensive is the game's portrayal of those in need of financial assistance. Stories of the current economic climate have been told and retold, and by now we know well how many Americans have had to turn to outside aid for the first time in their lives. Working people with families to support, those who have spent decades in the work force, have been laid off and are struggling to find new jobs. People who have never asked for handouts are forced to suck up their pride and accept assistance to feed their families while trying to find new jobs. The fragile economy has placed many people in similar circumstances, while others know that even though they may be employed today, they could just as easily find themselves on the unemployment line tomorrow.

But in "Obozo's America," those aren't the people collecting welfare benefits. The game is based on scamming the system and players earn extra benefits for things like having "out-of-wedlock children." You can then use your welfare money to "get extra cash from Saturday night crimes," including gambling, armed robbery, drugs, and prostitution. And what are you trying to avoid at all costs during this sex and drug filled romp? Why getting a job, of course, which puts you on the "working person's rut" of paying for others' welfare "fun."

As Catholics, we can and will always disagree on the president's policies and how the government should handle economic issues. But there should be no room for disagreement when it comes to insulting and degrading our brothers and sisters who have fallen on hard times. To do so is uncharitable, mean-spirited, and a clear violation of Christ's commandment to love our neighbor, especially at a time when poverty is literally starting to hit people in our own back yards. And sure, some will take advantage of the system, but doesn't Christ command us to love them too?

And if you really want to try a fun game that helps you understand the welfare system, you can always take the Food Stamp Challenge. It doesn't come with a colorful game board that mocks the president, but it will give you a much more realistic picture of living on government aid.