(Editor’s Note: A previous version of this post said that HATE was designed by Eric Lang. Actually, the Kickstarter page says this: “Created by the same design team who brought you the Zombicide series, under the supervision of Eric Lang…”. I regret the error and the post has been amended)
Yesterday saw the Kickstarter launch of one of the most divisive games that I’ve seen in a long time.
Why do I say “divisive?”
Because every boardgame content creator that I follow on Twitter (and I follow a lot) universally condemned the game but it also hit almost $500,000 in the first few hours, with almost 4500 backers.
What game am I talking about?
The new design from CMON Games, HATE.
HATE is based on the Chronicles of Hate graphic novel series by Adrian Smith. The world of HATE is a brutal post-apocalyptic world where tribes viciously fight each other for resources.
(All pictures are from the Kickstarter page)
The first indication that this was going to be a divisive game was the trailer.
The trailer is full of sadistic and foul language in an effort to earn its “Mature Audiences” rating. The narrator emphasizes every “fuck” like he’s an 8-year-old who just heard the word, realizes that it pisses off his parents, and wants to keep using it as much as possible.
The trailer is almost unintentionally funny because of things like that. Like when the narrator talks about how one of your guys savagely kills one of its opponents and the video shows a plastic miniature casually knocking over another plastic miniature.
Is this a required part of the game? Are you supposed to knock over the other player’s miniature when you kill it?
What other games would be enhanced by this rule?
Anyway, the trailer is so over-dramatic and gratuitously swear-heavy that I almost had to laugh except that I knew they were being serious.
The trailer screams “THIS GAME IS SO COOL! DON’T YOU WANT TO BE COOL? BACK THIS NOW!”
There are other rather questionable elements to this game, at least as shown to us in the trailer and reading the description on Kickstarter. I admit right now that I have not read the rules (the rulebook isn’t available yet, so not much is known about the gameplay other than the video with Eric that’s on the Kickstarter page). But you can judge a game based on how the publisher chooses to advertise it, and that’s what these reactions are based on.
As emphasized quite heavily in the trailer, when you capture units, one of your options is to send them to the ovens and cook them and eat them (to gain some kind of resource, I guess…maybe gas?).
Ok, I get it. Cooking and eating your enemies is a perfectly brutal thing to do and reflects the savagery of this universe.
But do you have to talk about sending people to ovens?
That’s in such poor taste that it’s not even funny.
Surely there are other ways to talk about cooking and eating people without referring to sending them to the ovens (and that’s a sentence I never thought I would actually type).
Is the game misogynistic?
There are miniatures of women with naked breasts, but there appears to be an equal amount of male skin, so it’s hard to say. I guess it’s considered equal that the female characters are probably just as brutal as the male characters (and maybe just as tasty!), but who knows without seeing how the game plays?
The game is designed by the same design team who brought you the Zombicide series, under the supervision of Eric Lang. I’ve never played Zombicide, but I’ve heard good things about it. The game mechanics in HATE may be phenomenal.
But is it really a good idea to make a game like this?
I was a bit disheartened to see that the Kickstarter made almost $500,000 in the first three hours or so. CMON’s previous Kickstarter actually designed by Lang, Rising Sun, made over $4 million.
However, in checking the HATE page this morning, it’s only at $572,000, which means it’s just made a little over $100,000 in the 24 hours since then. Maybe it’s slowing.
I fully support CMON’s right to make this game. I’m certainly not calling on it to be censored or anything.
But I do find it questionable and personally it’s harmed my opinion of both the company and the designer.
(Sssshhhhhhh I still love Modern Art though, CMON)
What are your thoughts on this? Are you going to back it? Do you find it as questionable as so many others do?
Let me know in the comments.
I think I’m the opposite of you here, I agree with your assessment of the game. However, after watching the trailer I think I might like it? It’s a dumb over-the-top “violent” and crude board game, and I can get behind that. Personally, I love that they’re making this game because it’s a such a HUGE risk. In my opinion, board gaming is kind of a prude hobby, so to go against that is massive, if anything they’ve earned more of my respect for this move.
We need to get in the habit of being ok with stuff we don’t like.
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Thanks for the comment, David!
I can see your point.
I think a large part of the reaction is sparked by the trailer. Maybe too much of it? I don’t know.
You’re right, it is a huge risk. We’ll see what the end results end up being. They have said that, due to the mature nature of the game, it will not go to retail at all (except for those retailers who do a pledge to get copies to sell).
So it will definitely be a niche portion of a niche market.
I agree that we need to get in the habit of being ok with stuff we don’t like. The issue is where is the line drawn? Where it is drawn is a personal thing. I’m not quite as gung-ho as the other critics of this game are (I’m more questioning the wisdom behind the whole thing than actually getting outraged), but I can see their points as well.
I appreciate the thoughtful comment. Thanks for stopping by!
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“I’m more questioning the wisdom behind the whole thing than actually getting outraged”
Haha, yeah, artistically I think it’s brave, bold, and courageous. From a business standpoint, they must of known what they were getting into, but CMON kickstarters are insane money for them. While I don’t think this will tarnish their rep, they will be couple mill lighter from not making it pg.
However, this might just be a passion project for the team as well, and if that is the case I’ve just done a full circle and I’m back to thinking that this a great move for the company. Empowering your employees to have a go, success or not, is what you want out of an great employer.
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It is definitely a bold move, I’ll give you that.
It would be interesting to see the behind the scenes stuff on this. Is it a passion project for the designers? That is cool of CMON to support them if so.
Though if you’re going to do that, maybe tone down the cheesiness of the trailer? 🙂
Or amp up the cheesiness of the trailer even further? Get some live action scenes of Arnie driving up with a Humvee, and in the passenger seat have a couple of HATE miniatures strapped in with a seat belt.
Ok, now THAT might be fun. Though it would ramp up the funding goal as well 🙂
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