Article by: Jillian Schmett
Love it or HATE it (see what I did there?), CMON is bringing what is quite possibly the most controversial board game to date to tables all over the world. Their campaign for the game HATE, designed by Raphael Guiton, Jean-Baptiste Lullien, and Nicolas Raoult, launched Tuesday, and hit it’s goal of $200,000 in approximately 15 minutes.
Now, if you’ve been anywhere near the board game forums and groups online in these past few days, you know that there are very strong opinions on the game subject matter and campaign being voiced. This article is not meant to make a stance one way or the other, but to lay out some of the points made by both sides of the argument side by side, and let you decide how you feel about it.
HATE is a brutal campaign game set in a post-apocalyptic world where tribes are warring for power. It’s based on the graphic novels The Chronicles of Hate by Adrian Smith, who is also the artist for the game. Many extremely mature subjects are depicted, with the Kickstarter trailer even beginning with a Mature Audience warning, and it’s definitely not something you want to watch at work or near kids with the volume up.
I’m going to try to pose this discussion in a template similar to a debate, with an issue raised and some related positive and negative comments I’ve seen in the community. Please note that I will be paraphrasing things I’ve personally read on multiple different posts, and am not directly quoting anyone in particular.
Side A: Depictions of rape, murder, and cannibalism are offensive and off-putting. Board games are an outlet for many people to unwind and forget about things that are troubling them in day-to-day life. Violence and gore are not conducive to a fun, lighthearteded game night with a group and especially not with family.
Side B: Although this game is definitely going extreme, in a way that no big-name publisher has before, games with mature content do exist, and have been successful, profitable, and enjoyed by consumers. Not every game appeals to every player or group, and this is certainly nothing that hasn’t been seen and debated in video games for years, what makes board games much different from that?
GRATUITOUS OR GENUINE?
Side A: The use of NSFW language throughout the campaign page/video, and including things like an oven to cook and eat enemies in, seems unnecessary and forced. It has been compared to something that would be created by and appeal to “13 year old boys” and called immature and unappealing.
Side B: It’s easy to say that CMON knows their target audience, but also impressive that they even knew this audience existed to such a large scale, since some backers of their previous campaigns have voiced that they will not be pledging this one. There is a reason this game is a kickstarter exclusive, and despite some accusations of it being that way to create FOMO, it’s more likely that CMON knew exactly what they were doing and why.
SPEAKING OF FOMO:
Side A: CMON is already known for having Kickstarter exclusive add-ons in many of their games. Now they are taking it a step further, to take advantage of the group’s mindset of “buy it now or you’ll never get it.” Making this game Kickstarter exclusive will make many people hit the pledge button when they otherwise may have waited for retail, when more information and reviews are available.
Side B: Due to its nature and the aforementioned content, this is not a game that can sit on a shelf next to Catan in your town FLGS. They recognize that if a mom takes her 12 year-old son in to get some new Pokemon cards and he picks this up, she will most likely not be pleased with what he sees. Although they are already proving that they are not afraid of controversy, they are also showing that they do indeed have a line drawn and know where not to cross it. There is also a retail pledge available, so they are not excluding FLGS from carrying it if they choose to.
Side A: A Kickstarter game with minis will fund, regardless of the quality of the actual gameplay. People are willing to pay hundreds more for a game with minis that would otherwise be considered mediocre.
Side B: CMON is known for their high-quality minis. This is, after all, a publisher literally named “Cool Mini or Not.” However, they also have a proven track-record of releasing games that are well developed and enjoyable to play. Blood Rage is still ranked #17 on the BGG top 100, 3 years after it’s release. Now that they have the well-known designer Eric Lang on board as creative director, it’s safe to assume that he has had a hand in playtesting and oversight of the gameplay before it was deemed ready to release, which makes many backers give their vote of confidence.
Side A: The success of this game will encourage other publishers to try to ride the wave of enthusiasm. More games with more and more shocking themes will emerge, and potentially scare away newcomers to the hobby. If the first tabletop game someone plays since childhood matches of Monopoly is HATE, they may get the wrong idea of what the hobby is all about.
Side B: What is this hobby all about? Inclusivity. Fun. Getting together with friends and playing a game that your group enjoys. Chances are that a newcomer to the hobby won’t be introduced to HATE as their first foray into hobby games.. It’s good that publishers are able to branch out and explore new genres and themes. The more options available to consumers the better. Purchase what you like, ignore what you don’t.
To summarize, I have seen many valid points made for both sides. I hope that I have been able to do justice them. The board game industry is growing rapidly and there are bound to be controversies that arise, and lots of things that don’t appeal to everyone. That’s OK. At the end of the day, we all are here to have fun.
If you haven't seen it yet and would like to check it out, you can visit the HATE Kickstarter page here:
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