Today, the Five-Minute Friday prompt is “Risk.” Since I’m supposed to write for five minutes on the first thing that pops in my head, I will be taking this post in a different direction.
The first thing I think of when I hear the word “Risk” is the Parker Brothers board game I played when I was a kid. The object of Risk—for those who’ve never played it—is perhaps both the grandest and most disturbing object of any board game: to conquer the world. Two to six budding Napoleons send armies marching around the globe with the ultimate goal of wiping out everyone but themselves and possessing every territory on the face of the earth.
As a boy, I never thought about what such a quest would entail in real life. The devastation of global warfare, even in an idealized 19th century pre-mechanized world, would mean death, famine, and suffering hundreds of millions of times over. The armies, after all, were just pieces of plastic and the civilians: well, there just weren’t any.
I also never thought about what would have happened after a real-life version. What would it take to keep the world “conquered” once I’d won? Empires never last, and the longer they do the more brutal they have to be to keep control.
But I was a kid, and it was just a game. And Risk wasn’t the only “war” game I owned. I had a chess set—though I never had the temperament for that game—along with a selection of strategy games based on various historic battles, but Risk was my favorite by far because it covered the whole world.
I haven’t played Risk since my early teens. I own a newer version of the game: one with infantry, artillery, and cavalry pieces in place of the abstract shapes. I bought it for sentimental reasons, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever play it.
Most likely, I won’t play it because I won’t find a worthy, or interested, opponent. But there’s a small part of me that wonders if the real reason I won’t play it again is because I can’t think of war as a game anymore.
This is my latest contribution to “Five-minute Fridays,” a weekly blog carnival hosted by Lisa-Jo Baker (aka The Gypsy Mama). Today’s prompt is “Risk.”