Yahtzee and SexualityNovember 19, 2011
Dear Yahtzee Manifesto,
After reading The Yahtzee Manifesto, a group of friends and I have decided to start a Yahtzee club. We meet every Thursday night for cocktails and several games of Yahtzee. We always have a great time and everyone looks forward to the next game night. In an effort to expand our pool of players, I recently invited some friends of mine from work who happen to be a gay couple. They are both new to Yahtzee and were unfamiliar with the rules of the game. Of course, once they started playing they quickly became addicted and are now regulars at our Thursday night meetings. There is one aspect of the game, however, that bothers them. They feel that the terms “Small Straight” and “Large Straight” are exclusive to their sexual orientation since they are gay, not straight. We have explained that these scoring categories were borrowed from poker and that they are in no way meant to be discriminatory. But my friends are still concerned. My question is this: is it in poor etiquette to use these terms around our gay friends if it causes offense? Are there any solutions that will make them feel more comfortable and accepted around the Yahtzee table?
As I’m sure you are well aware from having read The Yahtzee Manifesto, one of the main principles behind Yahtzee is the notion of inclusiveness for all human beings. Since its earliest days, Yahtzee has been bringing people together based on their shared characteristics, not tearing them apart because of their differences. It may seem that your friends are being a little dramatic in their reaction to the Straights categories but who are we to judge another’s reaction to what they deem to be offensive? I would highly recommend giving copies of The Yahtzee Manifesto to your friends so that they too can learn of the universal ideals behind Yahtzee.
In the meantime, if your friends feel in any way uncomfortable against by these terms, it is the responsibility of your Yahtzee club to change the wording of these scoring categories to foster a warm, supportive atmosphere. The naming conventions for the Straights, or any other scoring category for that matter, are not set in stone. In fact, they were only invented in the 1950s when a large game manufacturer changed the scoring terms to make the game more attractive to modern American gamers. The Straights were originally called the Small and Large Rivers, in the translation from the original Chinese. So go ahead and revert back to the original names for these categories if it will promote well-being within your club. Or perhaps you could simply remove the word “straight” and call them the Small and Large Gays. What’s important is to always make your fellow gamers feel welcome and included in all aspects of the game. That is, after all, the spirit of Yahtzee!