Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Did a Card Game Start the Spanish American War?

The Spanish American War is one of those largely forgotten American conflicts, due in part to it lasting less than four months. But it's a fascinating part of turn of the century history, especially the war's origins. The Spanish American War itself is interesting, between Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders, the liberation of Cuba and the Philippines and how those nations have changed in the interceding years, the question of imperialism that's alarmingly familiar today and more.

But what I find most intriguing is the war's origins, namely that just two men are basically responsible for starting the war- William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer.

The conflict between the US and Spain is in some ways a casualty itself, a casualty of the war between Hearst's New York Morning Journal and Pulitzer's New York World. Seeing the brewing conflict with Spain as, essentially, a profitable new market for selling papers, the two men led their reporters in running increasingly alarmist headlines, embellished or wholly falsified interviews, shocking photographs, etc. The two men invented and perfected yellow journalism.

Hearst also, among many other things, funded the creation of a card game called "War with Spain," with gameplay focused on sinking the Spanish navy. In a somewhat morbid way, Hearst may have created the first Game For Change. Excerpts from The Chief and Mightier Than the Sword might be of interest for further reading.

I mainly mention this because I find it an interesting moment in history involving games. But Hearst's "War with Spain" does remind that games can affect the way we see things. Including the way to see other games. (Plus I needed a segue for the next post I want to do, but was too busy to do this week)

I quite enjoy board/card games with reasonable complexity, i.e. German-style board game. Part of the reason is their mechanics are laid bare in a way largely impossible in video games. Next time I'm going to talk about a handful of my favourites and what about their mechanics I find so compelling.

Until then, remember the Maine!

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home