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The Summer's Hottest Board Games and How They Play

August 04, 1989|BETH ANN KRIER

Happenin' in Hollywood but Will They 'Do Lunch' in Shreveport? Goin' Hollywood is described by co-creator Michael Wiese as "the Spike Lee approach to the board game business--it's a couple of little guys biting the hand that starves us." In the game, player/producers trying to get movies made are invited to "wheel and deal, schmooze and steal, do lunch, take a meeting, cheat your friends." Thus far, the game has only been marketed in Los Angeles but it is currently sold out until more copies are manufactured, says Wiese, who also produced and directed Shirley MacLaine's "Inner Workout" video.

How does he reconcile promoting inner peace on video and outer greed at the game table? "The game is a way to experience all the frustrations and humiliations (of the movie business) within the privacy of your own home," Wiese explains. "Nobody will know."

Player analysis: Neal Schusterman, a Los Angeles screenwriter/novelist, calls Goin' Hollywood "ruthless. ... It feels like the way Hollywood really works. It's cutthroat and there are no rules. You can manipulate the rules to make any type of deal that you want. ... It's very draining, but you get to get all your frustrations out."

Are They Serious? A Bible Version of Outburst? In Outburst, the hot-selling party game notorious for being crazier and spicier than Trivial Pursuit or Pictionary, a category is selected. Then players have one minute to free associate and shout out words that can be linked with the category, hoping to match 10 answers listed on a card. Sample topics: celebrities who married repeatedly, buxom actresses, characters from "Gilligan's Island" and descriptive words for fat.

Outburst may be the most honest game on the market in that it advises players to appoint a master of ceremonies to control cheating and keep rowdy players from fighting. The master of ceremonies reads a "little speech" that declares: "This game is unfair! It is possible for there to be more than 10 appropriate answers for a topic. You may think of one that is not on the list. Tooooooo bad!"

The Outburst attitude toward injustice has proved popular enough at the cash register to warrant several new versions of the game, among them Bible Outburst, due in September, Outburst Jr., due this month, and Outburst II, next year. According to 38-year-old inventor Brian Hersch, a principal in the Century City real estate firm Hersch and Co., the Outburst category that has received the most reaction since the game was introduced in 1987 has been "baby words for biological functions--it's wonderful to see a group of adults sitting around yelling out words like doo-doo. . . ."

Player analysis: "Outburst is a terrific game. ... The kind of people playing games like Outburst are the kind of people who would feel threatened by a game of strategy," says Scott Marley, review editor of Games magazine. "They're the people who are never going to take the time to learn to play chess or bridge or even backgammon. "

Trump the Game vs. Monopoly Perhaps the juiciest topic of speculation in the game industry this year is whether Donald Trump's new game of wheeling and dealing (Trump the Game) will become a bona fide hit and have any effect on sales of Monopoly and other board games. The battle pits the two biggest names in the business (Parker Brothers, which owns Monopoly and turned down the Trump game) and Milton Bradley (the world's largest board game firm and manufacturer of the Trump game).

Trump the Game is characterized by those who play it as a far wilder romp through the world of deal-making than Monopoly. But Phil Orbanes, senior vice president of research and development at Parker Brothers, doubts the game will have the staying power of Monopoly, which a Parker Brothers spokesman says is the best-selling game in the world.

"Trump the Game . . . is not the kind of thing you want to pull out on the spur of the moment when grandma comes over," Orbanes says. "It can leave you exhausted and feeling like you don't want to play again. As accurate as it may be at capturing the feeling of insecurity in the real world, the game doesn't give you a feel-good experience, which is the purpose most people rely on for playing games."

Board game trivia buffs remain fascinated by the fact that Donald Trump was publicly challenged to play the game bearing his name and refused the offer. Earlier this year, Bob Stupak, a high-stakes poker player who owns Bob Stupak's Vegas World Hotel Casino, took out full-page newspaper ads inviting Trump to play Trump the Game with him--for $1 million, in real money. Trump reportedly declined. Says Stupak: "He said that even when you're used to winning it's always possible to lose."

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