I invented risk

riskI invented risk. The Game of Risk that is. The strategic board game of world conquest began on my kitchen table.

But hold on with the begging letters to share in my vast royalty riches until I explain how it happened.

Back when I was wee, we had to make our own entertainment. Oh we were so poor. It was a combination of the Four Yorkshiremen and Angela’s Ashes (by Frank McCourt).

When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.

Okay okay – I’m exaggerating a little bit. In fact, it’s a barefaced lie – we were well looked after my brother and sisters and I. But the bit about inventing The Game of Risk is true.

KamchatkaI did it by opening out some empty cereal boxes and sellotaping them together. On the blank inside sides I drew up a map of the world, divided into regions. Kamchatka – my favourite – was there of course. Madagascar was a secure deadend niche. Indonesia was the gateway to Australasia.

The soldiers, cannon and cavalry were little cut out cardboard counters rather than factory moulded plastic figurines. But hey, cut me some slack why don’t you. I was only wee.

So  – game created – we played it. And this prototype lasted for ages and worked very well.

And my creative inventive reputation was sealed.

Until… Many years later a younger (they’re all younger) sibling happened to spot a factory-produced version of my game. Shock and surprise! That sibling rushed to tell me that a company had ripped off my game.

I can’t quite remember when the penny dropped – if it was immediate or after I confessed to a deception I hadn’t realised I’d ever perpetrated.

Yes. I had made my own Game of Risk. But I’d nicked the idea from an official version I’d seen at a bigger house.

So for many years, I was reputedly the creator of Risk. But now I’m not. It was still a good effort though.

And at least my version had Kamchatka – these days newer version have no geographical use whatsoever – set in space, Star Wars, Middle Earth, Transformerland, etc, etc…. Harrumph!

This has been a (late) post for the Loose Bloggers Consortium on the theme of Risk – as set by Grannymar. You can see what risky behaviour the rest of them have been up to by scrolling down the right hand side of the screen and clicking on their links.

And – on a tangent – back in Belfast and thereabouts – you may have noticed rioting over a change to the rules on flying the Union flag on Belfast City Hall on certain days. I don’t normally get into to all that sort of stuff – but Speccy has been talking sense about it here.



Filed under D - Loose Bloggers Consortium, family history

26 responses to “I invented risk

  1. Maybe you took a risk just telling us this story … lettin’ the cat outta the bag so to speak. Still, your game sounds like fun.
    Blessings ~ Maxi

  2. My dear Paul, you are nothing without a miserable childhood. Just pile it on. You’ll end up rich regurgitating all that forced you into becoming a success.

    If I want to take NO risk I play “Snakes and Ladders”. It’s easy to slide down a snake. Try and climb a ladder.


  3. rummuser

    Man, you are very brave. You have taken a big risk and letting on about this copyright infringement case. Just hope that the original inventor does not read your post.

  4. Hudson Howl

    What I remember about Risk the ‘official’ game, it was tedious and boring and I never hung around long enough to see a conclusion. Am sure yours was mucho interesting and entertaining.

  5. “Oh we were so poor….” I nearly had the violins out! You were very inventive back in your short trouser days! It was lovely to hear your voice slipping into my living room the other day from across the airways. Your dulcet tones bring a smile to eyes and a warm glow to my heart!

  6. Helen

    As someone who played this ‘original’ Risk, I can assure you it was never boring. There were bonus points for having the Congo, simply because Um Bongo was drunk there, as the TV ads of the day told us. More bonus points for British Colombia as we had relatives who lived there. Probably the only personalised game of Risk in existence.
    I’ve never yet played the official version.

    • blackwatertown

      Um Bongo Um Bongo
      They drink it in the Congo.

      I’d forgotten about that one. All the most exclusive games and club have their own house rules.

  7. Hey, great minds think alike, right? 🙂 Not to make her feel bad or anything, but I found a REALLY similar story line from JK Rowling’s book in another book called “Deltora quest”. I don’t think she had read it, I think it was just a common plot that many people would invent. So I think you just have a very creative mind! 🙂

  8. 29

    What? You had cereal boxes!! You were lucky, our cook and butler always threw out the cereal boxes, so just think of the deprivation that we suffered.
    Now I know why I set my sights on aspiring to the average.

  9. Nothing at all wrong with the game being set on space or Transformerland! You simply widen your intergalactic geography knowledge 🙂 And remember : he who has the knowledge has the power!

  10. Edwin the Conqueror

    The game was great, if you had the Congo you got an extra army because we used to drink “Um Bongo” also if you had Ireland you got an extra army cos I lived there.

  11. Oh aye we had to be tough in them far-off days. Me dad and mum and sister, we all lived in a tent by the sewage works, and all we had to eat was gruel and potato peelings. But we were happy as Larry, we were grateful for what God had given us. These young people of today, they’re so pampered it beggars belief….

  12. When I was a duckling, I just reenacted battle scenes from video games using marbles. It sounds really weird, but I had fun with it. Also played a few board games alone because no one would play with me. Never played Risk, but I played Life a lot. (It was always weird in that game when you’d get so many kids, they wouldn’t fit in the car anymore. You’d just pile them in between their siblings, even though I’m sure that’s unsafe and could be counted as neglecting my tiny plastic peg children.)

    • blackwatertown

      I played Life too. Was satisfyingly chunky.
      You’re right about the cars. I’m not sure what societal norms they were basing the cars on – smaller family sizes than we were used to anyway.
      Or perhaps just normal car sizes – in which cases stuffing in extra children on knees or in the boot (trunk) was par for the course in those days.

  13. Antje Dabbs

    Very nice post. Came here by accident but enjoyed browsing your blog.

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