Loaded Dice: Yahtzee in the Lamestream Media
September 18, 2022
Yahtzee is under attack. Corporate media continues to disparage and defame Yahtzee, while promoting its board game competition. This unfair coverage is widespread – from news reports and opinion pieces to TV game shows and all the way to the big screen. Its effects are seeping into every layer of our society as even elections are now open season for manipulation. It's time to put a stop to the lamestream media's anti-Yahtzee propaganda that pollutes our airwaves.
Editor's note: The editors of The Yahtzee Blog allot a semi-regular column, “Loaded Dice”, to a junior intern at the World Yahtzee Institute writing under the pen name "Y". Like a growing number of people around the world, Y subscribes to a mind-boggling array of alternative facts and conspiracy theories. But in the interest of equal time their thoughts are presented below. The following commentary does not represent the views or opinions of the World Yahtzee Institute or its subsidiaries.
Greetings, Yahtzee patriots and welcome to another installment of ‘Loaded Dice', where we've been defending the right to bear dice for over twenty years! This week, we take a closer look at anti-Yahtzee bias in the media. This phenomenon is nothing new, just repeating a tired line of their playbook, but the intensity is being ratcheted up at an alarming rate. First up is what's become an instant classic – another rigged election.
The selection of this year's finalists for the National Toy Hall of Fame has been announced and Yahtzee was cheated yet again. Having made the shortlist in 2020 only to fall to the likes of sidewalk chalk, the world's most popular dice game was given the shaft for the second consecutive year as it failed to reach the finals. Instead, Lite-Brite and Pound Puppies are among the 12 toys that have been gifted a shot at inclusion into the sacred Hall.
And right on cue, Big Media is lashing out to twist and impugn Yahtzee's upstanding reputation – all for the sake of the almighty dollar. Well, I, for one, am sick and tired of it! My white-hot fury would be somewhat tamed had only non-game toys made the final cut in the nomination process. But the selection committee callously rubbed salt in our wounds by including such board game ‘gems' as Rack-o, Phase 10, and Catan, formerly Settlers of Catan.
So yet again I must draw your attention to the first word in the National Toy Hall of Fame. You wouldn't add sumo to the American wrestling hall of fame so why on earth would Catan, a German import from the ‘90's, even be considered for this honor? Maybe there is a museum in Berlin that will take it instead.
There was, fortunately, a slight silver lining to the dark storm-cloud that was the 2022 Hall of Fame nominee ceremony. Edwin S. Lowe, the creator of modern Yahtzee had an earlier invention nominated – Bingo. He becomes the first game designer to snag nominations for two separate games. A win for Bingo would salve our injuries and perhaps add steam to Yahtzee's chances next year. But the Hall continues to cast shade upon Yahtzee for no good reason.
The farce must end. This is a call to the National Toy Hall of Fame to elevate Yahtzee to permanent membership, effective immediately.
Survey Says . . .
Not only are our toy elections under attack, but the lamestream media has moved on downstream to target poll results as well. Exhibit A: a YouGov survey of American adults published results in 2020 suggests that most people view Yahtzee as a game of chance, rather than skill. A full 49% of respondents stated that pure luck was more important to the game than strategy or tactics, which accounted for only 22% agreement.
That number increases to 26% when only considering highly educated respondents, suggesting that brainy dice rollers tend to appreciate Yahtzee's strategic nuances better than their lowbrow fellows. But the dramatic skew to the responses can mean only one of two things. Either the poll was deliberately sabotaged to discredit Yahtzee or the media's anti-Yahtzee propaganda has reached full saturation.
Some tabletop games are fawned over in the press, like the upstart Catan or traditional chess. The dice community, meanwhile, is ignored or worse. Yet the tactical intricacies encountered in a game of chess pale to the complexities of high-level Yahtzee. The strategic decision-making brainpower required to calculate whether to go for the Large Straight or Four-of-a-Kind, for example, makes dalliances like the Queen's Gambit look like checkers.
I like a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy but who can seriously believe that Yahtzee requires more luck than skill? Is this some kind of joke? Based on these results, I seriously question whether YouGov's survey methodology is quite up to snuff. But perhaps the most shocking result of the survey found a staggering 17% of respondents were not familiar enough with the game of Yahtzee to form an opinion at all.
It strains the imagination to conceive that nearly one fifth of adults have never played Yahtzee. The game was released over 66 years ago so today's oldest people have had a lifetime of exposure. With the recent explosion in electronic and online Yahtzee, there are more ways to play than ever. And it remains the most popular dice game in the world. Hey YouGov, just who are YouGuys trying to fool?
As always, we need to figure out who to blame. Is there a gag rule on positive Yahtzee news? Are outlets forced to focus on negative coverage? Who is behind the curtain of this smear campaign, that seeks to tarnish and sully Yahtzee's good name? Of course the mainstream media conglomerates bear responsibility for spreading the lies but who is pulling the strings?
Or is this just a symptom of a greater problem? Namely, the general dumbing down of the American public. As public education is further eroded we are left with an under-prepared and ignorant workforce. The dimwits among us are more susceptible to the corporate misinformation campaigns that are spoonfed by news outlets. Fueled by declining representation in the popular media, the uniformed masses are turning to games with the latest bells and whistles. Lured by something shiny, Yahtzee is pushed aside and neglected.
You may be thinking, “A dumbed-down society, you say? It sounds like Yahtzee would thrive on the boob tube.” And you wouldn't be the first – Yahtzee on-screen has been tried many times before. Not surprisingly, Yahtzee's treatment at the hands of visual media corporations leaves much to be desired.
From Russia with Dice
Yahtzee representation on the big screen is typically riddled with inconsistencies, distortions, or downright lies. And some of the world's biggest franchises are guilty of this subterfuge. The James Bond series, for one, hides an ugly truth. Film lovers may be surprised and disillusioned to learn that the beloved British spy is right at the heart of the global cover-up to suppress the game of Yahtzee.
During a key sequence in the 1969 film On Her Majesty's Secret Service starring fan-favorite Bond actor George Lazenby, two of Bond's soon-to-be sex kittens are prominently displayed engaged in a rousing game of Yahtzee. The obvious problem with the scene is that their Yahtzee scorecards are nowhere to be seen. It is highly unlikely considering their rather ditsy characterization that the Bond bombshells are recording their scores mentally as only Yahtzeeists of the highest order possess such skill. And taking into account the Bond films' precise attention to detail and realistic portrayal of world events, explaining away this discrepancy as an honest on-set oversight is downright outlandish.
Bond producer Albert R. Broccoli continues to this day to misrepresent the game with his cavalier depictions of Yahtzee and Yahtzee-related paraphernalia. His underhanded behavior should come as no surprise considering that broccoli tastes gross, unless of course it's swimming in melted cheddar cheese. It's unclear at this point if Bond author and creator Ian Fleming is the true mastermind behind this malfeasance as the Yahtzee scene did not appear in the original novel. He has of yet has been unwilling to take my phone calls but, rest assured, I will soon get to the bottom of his involvement. He and all his fellow co-conspirators will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.
Defamation lawsuits are but one way to fight back. When the corruption has been allowed to fester, seeping into every layer of society, finding a cure becomes more of a challenge. In the current atmosphere, through mischaracterizations and deceptive news coverage, Yahtzee is pushed to the back-burner. That makes it easier for people to look the other way when the game's inherent worth is appropriated for profit and power.
The game is degraded, for example, when it hawked on every street corner like a knock-off watch. Over-commercialization risks devaluing the product, further harming its reputation with the home consumer. Yet the game's corporate overlords splash it around wherever it can turn a buck. Product placements in TV and movies, such an in a 2021 episode of ‘The Neighborhood', may help the short-term bottom line but the love of money is the root of all evil. Yahtzee's inner worth is more valuable that corporate profit.
But greedy media execs aren't the only ones cashing in through Yahtzee appropriation. The brand is now so entwined with the public consciousness that it is adapted for non-Yahtzee purposes. For example, it has become common to hear shouts of “Yahtzee!” after a home-run in a baseball game. Like Bingo before it, the title of the game is used as a stand-in for a more traditional exclamatory word. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but this type of casual appropriation puts the game's dignity in jeopardy by weakening Yahtzee's very name.
Not all instances of imitation are necessarily bad – it all part of being a global cultural icon – but not everyone shares the peaceful conception of human society that underpins the game of Yahtzee. The most egregious type of appropriation is when Yahtzee is used to promote hate. And it happens to be an unfortunate quirk of history that the name of the world's most famous dice game rhymes with its most infamous political party.
Too many good things have been ruined through appropriation by the far right and I'm not about to let Yahtzee be next. The toothbrush mustache was a perfectly respectable style of facial hair until Hitler made it unwearable. The floral-print Hawaiian shirt, OK hand gesture, even the skinhead haircut were all appropriated to an extent that respectable people might now look at you twice if you flaunt it around.
But now the good name of Yahtzee is dragged through the mud as a replacement for the word ‘Nazi'. Most social media sites rightfully censor the party's name to target hate speech. That leaves a linguistic void, however, that users will inevitably fill. A rhyming word is a quick and simple substitute, but to associate Yahtzee in any way with hate is a bridge too far.
Social Media tech titans must harness the anti-Yahtzee rhetoric on their platforms. Yahtzee is a non-violent, all-inclusive game - making it a poor code word to refer to radical political groups.
With all the media bias against Yahtzee, it's easy to feel browbeat. But while instances of positive representation in the media are few and far between, they do exist. The original Star Trek series is a notable exception, having Mr. Spock reference that Yahtzee remains well-known across the galaxy far into the future. And using Yahtzee as a cry of excitement after a home-run or as a punchline after sexual climax may well be net-positive uses of the word.
It remains up to us, the dice patriots, to reclaim the sanctity of Yahtzee. It's time to make a stand against the corrupt media that distorts the good word. The line must be drawn here! This far, no further!
In Dice We Trust,