Saturday, June 25, 2011

#217 The Ungame


The Ungame is a non-competitive non-game that enjoys rabid popularity in Christian culture. It exists solely to spark conversation, permits no losing, and is basically a G-rated version of "Have you ever?” in board form. The Ungame manned the helm of Christian culture social gatherings for the entire length of the 1980s secondary to James Dobson’s enthusiastic recommendation.

Christian culture's Good Housekeeping symbol

The Ungame board features a bucolic microcosm of various emotions and life trials rendered in idyllic cartoons. To play you draw cards that dispatch you to places like the Cheerful Chalet and Worry Wharf, and once you get there you are asked things like “When do you get angry?” and “If you had to move and could only take three things with you, what would you take?”

Fearful Forest, Worry Wharf and Friendship Farm await you

Your game piece hops around garnering introspective questions and though you're assured there are no wrong answers, you know better than to answer “Do you like to pray?” with “not really.” If the card asks if you've been unhappy today and you answer in the affirmative, you are sent to the Happy House for a time-out and must forfeit a turn. Such mixed messages, this Ungame.

White people playing white people games.


For the evangelical on the go there’s a travel version. Speaking of mixed messages, at first glance they look like boxes of condoms.


Though Christian culture finds the regular Ungame adequately edifying, there is an actual Christian version in case you really want to get down. The Christian version has two sets of question cards, one for junior highers and one for mature Christians. These questions include “If Jesus knocked on your door today what would you do?”, “Name three significant advantages a Christian has over a non-Christian,” “What is your strongest Christian virtue and how do you use it to advantage?”, “What part of the Christian’s armor was the most valuable to you today?”, “Make a statement about wine” and “Identify a spiritual lesson that can be learned from a fox.” I am not making this up.


The board says “answer honestly” all over it, but can you imagine if you did? Question: “Tell of a time no one else knew about when you were tempted. What did you do and what you would do differently if you had it to do over again?” Better not answer that one out loud in mixed company. “Who is your favorite New Testament Bible character and why?” New Testament, you say? Social decorum demands you say Jesus. “What weakness in Christians most hinders non-Christians from accepting Jesus and why?” Um, maybe believing that you have at least three significant advantages over non-Christians has something to do with it. And you want to know why? Maybe because Jesus didn’t quantify people in that way. “You serve on a philanthropic organization board and recommend Christian ministries worthy of support. What criterion do you use?” Well. They definitely can’t support anything remotely gay or pro-choice, but if they say they give at least 10% of their firstfruits to charity even though their founders live in huge houses, that meets all of Christian culture’s criteria for support worthiness. And last but not least, “Talk about something you like to eat.” As. If. Have a straight guy answer that honestly and Christian culture will rise up and break his ass in half. Let’s work it clean, people. Christian culture says they want your truth but studies show they cannot handle it.

35 comments:

littlebluebox83 said...

Oh my gosh! I unplayed this in high school AND college! Wow. This makes me want to look at it again, not unplay it again or even to own it, but to look at it for five minutes and then put it back on the shelf.

Amoir said...

I remember having this game. it was so lame, I think my parents tried to make us play it a couple of times and then it sat gathering dust on the shelf. Too funny!

shelly said...

Yeah, they say they want you to tell the truth, but the truth is, they encourage you to lie. In other words, they encourage you to sin. IMO, it's right up there on their MO list along with "Doing Things and Avoiding Relationship".

Anyway, I've never heard of The Ungame until this post. Heh. Then again, I was just a kid in the 1980s.

Zhuge Liang XVII said...

Yep, this was a very memorable game from my childhood. We even had it in our speech therapy room in our public school (the regular version, though, but I could still sense the solemn, religious overtones). I think the biggest thing that bugged me about it was the fact that you couldn't win or lose, and thus it wasn't fun at all. At least its name matched!

Kevin said...

The thought of Christian-themed rubbers called "Ungame" is just classic.

What gives with eating? I missed something here.

Abby Normal said...

Funny--I think I remember seeing this game on the shelf in my Sunday school classroom as a kid but I don't think anyone ever actually played it.

I also think there was a period from about 1978 to 1984 where everything looked like a box of condoms.

Eat the Queen of Spades, B*tch! said...

I grew up in a pretty Christian Culturey house, but there is no way we could have enjoyed a game where we couldn't make fun of the losers or throw cards around the room in a fit of rage.

It's kind of a weird thing that this game was big in CC. Isn't anti-competitiveness (trophies for all, no score-keeping in soccer or baseball) more the province of the self-esteem-for-all secular humanists?

Anonymous said...

Lordy, Lordy. Our church youth group used to play this all the time. The kids liked it, but I agree --- it's conducive to "sharing" only on a surface level. We'd talk about some slightly embarrassing, funny stuff, but nothing deep, and certainly nothing as controversial as homosexuality or abortion.

-WearyPilgrim

Amanda said...

I grew up pretty well ensconced in Christian culture (in Colorado Springs, home of James Dobson himself, to boot!) and I've never heard of this. Maybe it's played by the Westboro Baptist equivalent of CC-ers....

Another Sarah said...

Wow, that game is up there with the "Don't talk to strangers" game my mother made me play. What is it with board games in the 80s? I still can't trust strangers and I'm 30.

I love the favourite New Testament figure question though. I would think that answering Jesus wouldn't be fair cuz it's a no brainer. I would think you'd be expected to come up with someone more obscure to demonstrate your biblical knowledge.

Answering with Thomas would probably get an insteresting reaction though.

Anonymous said...

No winners or losers?!?! SOUNDS LIKE SOCIALISM TO ME! Could christian culture be contradicting itself? No, that is isn't possible...

Anonymous said...

My friend and I used to play this in middle school and compete to see who could come up with the most perverted, depraved answers to each question. Dobson would NOT have approved.

Anonymous said...

is this real??

Emily said...

PAHAHAHAHA! I grew up playing this game. When I was dating my now-husband, I invited him to my parents house to play it (good break-the-ice activity, right?). It never occurred to me until that night what a lame game it was.

He still married me, but complains to this day about that stupid game. I kept it for sentimental reasons, and the box alone sparks hilarious conversations.

This post made my day.

Gaffe said...

Hey Steph, I've been reading your awesome blog for quite a while and I really love it.

I've actually started my own commentary about SCCL's posts since I've grown up in an area heavily saturated with Christian Culture. I just did post one and two on my blog, http://rantofgaffe.blogspot.com/, and I would be honored if you could take a peek.

Good luck and keep the awesome posts coming! :D

somaticstrength said...

I did not know Christians were into this. We still have this game.

Interestingly, on the question about church, it asks it as though church is something you only go to when you're a kid. Maybe that's why they had to create a Christian version.

Lenora said...

This is funny. I never heard of this game before and I have been a practicing Christian for quite awhile. The travel version in the shape of condoms - lol. :)

http://makeitplainlenora.blogspot.com/

CoderHead said...

I remember playing this game with my family! Looking back on it with an endorsement by James Dobson it's no wonder it was in our house. We'll file this under "games we'll never ever ever play again...ever."

Brandt Dotson said...

Thanks for reminding me of this silly thing from the 80's that I had forgotten until now. Now I'm flooded with memories of my strictly religious (and absolutely NOT Christ-like) childhood that I had repressed.

violet said...

“…Have a straight guy answer that honestly and Christian culture will rise up and break his ass in half.”

Or a dyke! Oy.

D.Cerny said...

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD--- We had this game, played it and speculated on the lives of the people on the box.

Anonymous said...

>Have a straight guy answer that honestly and Christian culture will rise up and break his ass in half.

Hahah I got a good laugh with that one!

Bob Longman said...

Really, seriously (well, as seriously as you can talk about a stupid board game), reading the game wrong. It's no more of a problem than other socio/psychological board games, which also engage in such speculations - because nearly everyone (evangelical or not) finds that to be quite fun.

Oh -- and the game's *not* evangelical in origin.

stephy said...

Reading the game wrong, eh.

It's definitely not evangelical in nature, but evangelicals love it (even has Dr. Dobson's stamp of approval and everything).

Robert said...

What!? How did I never know about this when I was growing up? Questioning my Christian bonafides now.

kari said...

cc is good at teaching people how to intuit the 'correct' answers, but not good at teaching people how to think for themselves

Garrett said...

A little late to the party, but don't forget the age limit. "For ages 5 to 105!" Yes, great, we get it... it's a family game. I actually did look at the box's cover before reading the age guidelines.

DVD printing said...

Great explanation about this topic and i am new guy to this job thanks to sharing the wonderful articles.This is an interesting post. It is also a helpful resource. Great topic, thanks for taking such good care of this website!

Training Seminars said...

Really impressed! Everything is very open and very clear explanation of issues. It contains truly information. Your website is very useful. Thanks for sharing.

Jonathan Bell said...

Never knew the Ungame was popular with Evangelicals. I grew up with the game and am an Orthodox Jew. Mom was a psychotherapist who came of age professionally in the 60s and 70s (she has a great story about attending a conference at which Timothy Leary was the keynote), so I thought it was just a hippie kinda thing.

jang jobs ads said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Become Ordained Online said...

I found this informative and interesting blog so i think so its very useful and knowledge able.I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well.

career opportunities said...

A great article written with great hard work...i must say....Thanks for posting this article. I am definitely tired of struggling to find relevant and intelligent commentary on this subject. Everyone nowadays seem to go to extremes to either drive home their viewpoint or suggest that everybody else in the globe is wrong. Thanks for your concise and relevant insight a great work of your which shows...I like your site its quite informative and i would like to come here again as i get some time from my studies. i would like to invite my other friends to this site, as you have done a great job.i must say...keep it up guys..Thanks for the information.I apriciate each and every point of your article.Really great information .Keep sharing …..Well done

Anonymous said...

I have learn all lowongan kerja the posts lowongan kerja parttime and i found very lamaran pekerjaan unique
info on usaha yang menguntungkan this blog good work pekerjaan sampingan by your side thanks cara berbisnis online for
your views pekerjaan online these are very useful pengusaha muda indonesia for many who don’t pengusaha muda sukses know as much at any time when i wanna share or focus on one thing cara menjadi kaya i surely come back and talk about on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Say something about wine. Ok, how about something biblical?

"Jesus turned water into it."
"Jesus hung around with people who routinely drank it."
"Take a little wine for your stomach.
"Jesus drank wine, not grape juice, at the last supper."

Plus, it's delicious!