Is The Free iPhone Game of Hangman Racist?

Yup I said the R word. Now I know that us gamers usually get into a tizzy because we don’t necessarily think in those terms (see Resident Evil 5 debacle). But I’ve recently purchased an iPhone and was browsing through the new apps and games (I’m thisclose to buying Spore) and noticed the Top Free Games list.

On September 10, 2008 it read like this:

1.    Puzzloop
2.    Blackjack
3.    Cannon Challenge
4.    Free Hangman
5.    Labyrinth Lite
6.    21 Pro: Blackjack
7.    PapiPole
8.    Hanoi
9.    Sol Free Solitaire
10.    BreakClassic Lite

Looking through the list I saw a few mainstays that I’ve heard of but gravitated to Hangman, due to the fact that I’ve played other touch games on the iPhone and figured this one would be cool too.

Little did I know I would be faced with this graphic for the game.

Now I know that hanging means different things to different people. But is it not incentive period? School children play the game all the time with chalk on blackboards and sidewalks. You lose when you complete the body. The rating on this game is 9+ for “Frequent/Intense Cartoon or Fantasy Violence”

Seeing the gallows and a stick figure doesn’t really strike most as something to think about, but I do believe in this particular iteration of the game the graphics intensify the experience. Of note the hanging mechanism is a tree and not execution gallows.

During play when you begin missing letters, a black line stick figure appears. First the head, then torso, right arm, left arm, right leg, left leg, and then on the next miss the body goes limp.

Have we been duped all these years? I mean according to Wikipedia the first use of the game Hangman can be traced back to 1894. The KKK is known to have been lynching people (white and black) as far back as 1868, ample time for a game to be made of the act.

How does this make you feel? Should the developers Mobilityware change the imagery? Or iTunes remove the game altogether? Or should nothing be done at all, because “It’s just a game”?


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16 Responses to “Is The Free iPhone Game of Hangman Racist?”

  1. Johan on September 10th, 2008 9:53 am

    Do you think they should take out the black from a dartboard aswell? cause oooh, maybe its symbolic of shooting blacks with arrows….?
    Man up idiot and stop beign o so thensitive.


  2. Cy-anide on September 10th, 2008 10:06 am

    =_= wheres the image at least show us if your gonnna claim something as stupid as this , even if the game came from the kkk it doesnt stop millions of kids and people from playing it so who gives a fuck. its just a game. you should focus more on winning the game instead of watching the man die. if you dont wanna see a black stick figure hung then spell the damn workd correctly


  3. g on September 10th, 2008 10:19 am

    This by far has to be the most stupid article I have ever read. It seems to me like your trying to start something here.


  4. DaveDaGamer on September 10th, 2008 10:33 am

    Really? Do you have any idea what racism consists of? Ok let’s say its not racist. Is it still ok for people to continue to play a game where the object is to not get hung? As we all know, other interpretations of the game have arisen over the years, most popular might be Wheel of Fortune.

    We don’t play “Lethal Injection” or “Gas Chamber” games do we?


  5. dabizo on September 10th, 2008 11:03 am

    Its because of people like you I cant call a blackboard a blackboard - its racist? Is black magic racist - is calling a whiteboard racist towards white people?
    Why are you bothered - even if this game had a black character hanging, would it be better fir you if it was a white character hanging?
    Who cares, its just a game.


  6. Dave on September 10th, 2008 11:06 am

    Perhaps it is racist for you to find racism in a game that contained none before you decided to do so.


  7. DaveDaGamer on September 10th, 2008 11:35 am

    dabizo - the word black is not racist nor is the word white.

    The article is not to state whether its “better” to have ANYONE hanging.

    That’s the point. It’s a game that is based on hanging someone. This particular depiction of it happens to be from a tree. Now how do you relate that to a chalkboard and make your argument?

    Dave - thanks for the intellectual comment. But I argue if the game contained “none” when people do not study the origins.


  8. Dave on September 10th, 2008 12:14 pm

    In 1894, hanging had been one of the most popular means of execution in both America and Europe for over 500 years. I don’t think hanging in this case is specific to hate crime lynching, because hanging in general was part of popular culture at the time. I find it far to convenient to your point to make the link with the KKK.

    The mentality of the cowboy and the old west was dying if not dead in 1894 in favor of a more industrialized and civilized nation, and hangings in the old west were still extremely popular public events for people up until that time. This would imply that whoever created the game probably had no racist intent, but merely chose a subject matter that was a huge part of the prior era.

    You are also forgetting the fact that the executioner in this game is clearly a European medieval executioner, which should indicate an execution in medieval Europe and not an American lynching. The color of the stick figure seems trivial and coincidental at that point.


  9. dabizo on September 10th, 2008 12:27 pm

    What I am saying is its just a game - yes people used to hang others from trees…so what.. this is a game, a simple game of hangman - I don\\\’t see any kind of racism in it?
    I brought in the blackboard scenario to try and give you an indication of what I was trying to point out - people can find racism in anything if you\\\’re looking for it.
    You found racism in a game of hangman on an iPhone - that is something I would never pick up on, maybe I don\\\’t see things as black and white as you do.


  10. Fupa on September 10th, 2008 12:27 pm

    I was surprised when I read the reviews of this game on my iPhone that someone thought it was racist. Granted, it does have the stick man hanging from a tree instead of the gallows. But you yourself, DaveDaGamer, said that the KKK lynched blacks AND whites. The reality is that they were, and still are for that matter, a bunch of ignorant fools. That doesn’t mean the game has anything to do with them or racism in any way. Is it because the stick man is made of black lines? I guess I just don’t see the point of automatically assuming that something has the worst intentions when you don’t know who created it.

    As far as your article Dave, I think you left it ambiguous as far as if it was racist or not but then seemed pretty defensive in your subsequent comments.

    No we don’t play gas chamber or lethal injection games, but we also probably don’t wonder if those are racist.

    Judging anything before you really learn about it just shows ignorance.


  11. DaveDaGamer on September 10th, 2008 12:34 pm

    The article is intended to inspire debate. The headline is a question. I stated my reasoning behind my questioning “this” particular version of Hangman. Which then led me to think about the game in general with a wider scope.

    So far no one seems to agree that the games depiction, racist or not, is offensive.

    Nor does anyone seem to agree that the process of hanging someone is offensive.

    Yet I don’t hear any arguments as to why it is acceptable. When we don’t play other “execution themed” games.


  12. Fupa on September 10th, 2008 1:12 pm

    And you’ve done a good job inspiring that debate. I never meant to imply that you had judged blindly. I was just simply stating that as sort of an overall moral.

    I think a lot of people are pretty sensitive about the race issue, though no one who commented on this article seemed to be. The general consensus seems to be that people need to stop being little bitches about it. Again, not saying that you are, Dave.

    I also see your point about other factors potentially being offensive to some. Thought I don’t personally agree with hanging, execution, or killing of anyone in any manner, I don’t find the game offensive in any light whatsoever. Because it’s just a game, and I don’t equate it to real life. But that’s just me.

    I think that people need to generally do what is best for them when it comes to issues such as this. If they find it racist, then they should stay away from it and not play it. Same thing if they find hanging offensive. But people get too worked up about stuff. They need to relax and stop assuming that everything has the worst of intentions.

    All that being said, you have some valid points, so thank you for sharing.


  13. joey on September 10th, 2008 3:41 pm

    Nice way to attempt to get hits to your site. Your facts are muddled (hanging has been around long before you stated and the tree was the most common instrument to hang someone from, no other “execution” type games: ever play Metal Gear Solid. Assassination is execution) but the one thing I can note from this article is there is certainly racism in it.

    The only racist though is the author.


  14. MrKnowItAll on September 10th, 2008 5:21 pm

    It’s a fricken videogame. If the game had a darker background with a white or yellow stick figure, this article would have never been written. If you take the moral ramifications of playing a game because the KKK MIGHT have invented it then halloween shouldn’t be celebrated because its an anniversary to a time when children were murdered.


  15. DaveDaGamer on September 10th, 2008 5:34 pm

    I love when people attempt to use other instances to answer a specific question. Why is it so hard to stay on topic?

    It’s like saying, “Why can’t people breathe underwater?”
    answer “Because they can’t, If people could fly they would crash into each other and fall to their deaths.”

    That’s how nonsensical your argument is.


  16. DW on September 20th, 2008 7:19 pm



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