Ouija: The GTA of My Teens
When I was a kid, this was our GTA:
So, it came as a surprise to me to see a pink Ouija boardthis morning when I scanned the sale advert for Toys R’ Us. It’s included in the collection of pink girl games (because that’s evidently the ticket to getting girls to play). My, what a transition it’s made. It looks odd up there in that picture, the smiling girl and the game, a contrast to what my brain has remembered and internalized.
“Mommy! I just summoned dead Uncle Howard! Yeah for me!”
When I grew up, Ouija shared so many of GTA’s present day traits: it was vaguely interesting because it was forbidden, some kid’s parents let them play it, and we knew who those kids were. It was something we weren’t supposed to do. It generated larger than life stories which were shared outside the game and almost became a meta-game in themselves. People wrote articles damning the game. Some said it wasn’t a game at all (I’d agree).
In Ouija’s case, a general “collective conscience” caution existed about the board welcoming contact with the dead. That meant both good dead and bad dead and even evil spirits. While it’s easy to brush this off from some points of view, it wasn’t possible where and when I grew up. Imagine sending the 8-year-old girl (or so) pictured above to channel the undead. Moderately creepy, no?
Making contact with the dead is a part of some cultures more than others, and so I imagine that this game would have greater gravity elsewhere. For my Caribbean husband, Obeah was a part of his culture’s collective conscience. It wasn’t dismissed at all, and I’ve witnessed signs of protection from Obeah all over his island. I’ve even heard people say with complete sincerity that someone had “been workin Obeah pun me.” These individuals were not the American equivalent of rednecks or some people stuck in a 3rd world. They are as much first world as you or me, college educated doctors, lawyers and politicians.
In reflecting on all this over coffee, the one thing that really sticks with me is this: making contact with the dead is a phenomenally odd mechanic/dynamic for a game. I mean alleged real world contact with the dead. Do you know of any other games that do this? How was/is Ouija viewed where you are?