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Board games that pit the U.S. against Japan

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One Japanese company has decided to do something about Japan bashing: Have fun with it. SystemSoft Corp. has just introduced a home computer game for the Japanese called Japan Bashing, ”based on the currently sensational theme.” The game pits the U.S. against Japan (which appears larger than the U.S. on screen) in a series of political and economic negotiations. Players choose strategies using real news stories from the last decade or so. the game ends when President Bush collapses with the flu at a state dinner in Japan.

In indirect counterpoint, and as a spoof of the recent acquisition frenzy for entertainment properties, New Yorkers Cathy and Harry Rubin have created Let’s Buy Hollywood, a board game distributed by Cardinal Industries Inc. Players try to buy as many entertainment companies as possible, including TV networks, movie studios, and theater chains. One feature is a ”hit or miss” card, much like a Monopoly chance card, reading ”Japanese Takeover!” with a picture of a smiling geisha. While Cathy Rubin, a former video marketing director, says, ”This is not a Japanese-bashing game,” she adds, ”there is a kind of underlying political aspect that inspired the game.”

So are other U.S. game makers toying with Japanese-American relations? ”We’re not into current issues,” says Karen Eaton, a spokeswoman for Parker Bros. (Monopoly). Mark Morris, a spokesman for Milton Bradley Co. (Scrabble), adds, ”We’re too busy making games that have a longer life than those that will shortly be yesterday’s news.”

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