Adventures in Narcissism

Most of us won’t recall it, but on February 7, 1989, the Milton Bradley Corporation proudly announced the launching of its newest board game.  Modeled roughly on the buy-and-sell machinations of “Monopoly,” this new game was based upon the cult following and commercial exploits of then New York real estate tycoon Donald Trump.

We’re not making this up.  The box containing the game featured a photograph of The Donald himself, looking shrewd and confident, and its snappy, in-your-face tagline was:  “It’s not whether you win or lose.  It’s whether you win.”  Ah, yes, so wonderfully Trump-like.

Hoping to benefit from the success of Trump’s recently ghost-written book, “The Art of the Deal” (1987), the board game was called simply:  “Trump: The Game.” Although serious “gamers” found it a bit too complicated and tedious (the instruction booklet itself ran to 12 pages), its suggested retail price was $25.

In fairness to Milton Bradley, it’s rare for a newly introduced board game to navigate its way into the hearts of America’s serious gamers and amateur enthusiasts.  Because the board game market is so wildly unpredictable, all a company can do is launch its product and hope for the best.  Accordingly, “Trump: The Game” was a bust.

But in 2004, a new opportunity presented itself.  In the wake of Trump’s surprisingly successful TV reality show, “The Apprentice,” the game was reissued in a slightly modified (simplified and slimmed down) form, this time by Parker Brothers, a Hasbro subsidiary.  It was still called, “Trump:  The Game,” but this time the irresistible tagline was:  “It takes brains to make millions.  It takes Trump to make billions.”

Alas, even with the improvements (and Trump’s splashy assurance that a significant part of the profits would be donated to charity) the re-introduced version also failed.   Again, the board game market is a tough nut to crack.

However, now that Donald Trump is president, the time may be ripe for the introduction of yet another version of the game.  Just to be silly, we invented one that would be far simpler than the earlier versions.  Not only simpler but more pertinent.   The game would be called:  “I Didn’t Say That!”  The box cover would have a photo of Trump doing his Mussolini pose, and its snappy tagline would be:  “I’m president, and you’re not.”

The action would consist of 3-4 players taking turns drawing from a deck of 60 cards.  Each card would have three preposterous quotations printed on it.  One of the quotes will have been positively verified to have been uttered by Donald Trump, and the other two will have been made up by comedy writers.  The first player to correctly identify 10 Trump quotes wins the game.

To make it more interesting, the deck will include three “denial” cards.  Each denial card will have a picture of Sarah Huckabee Sanders on its back, and the words, “I didn’t say that!” written on its face.  Any player drawing a denial card will be required to relinquish all points accrued by correctly identifying Trump’s quotes, and be forced to start over.

There will also be a “Banishment” card in the deck.  This is the card no one wants to draw (worse even than the dreaded queen of spades in the game of “Hearts.).  On its back will be a picture of Steve Bannon, and on its face will be the words, “You’re fired!”

The unfortunate player drawing the Banishment card will not only be required to quit the game, throw in his cards, leave the table, and exit the room, he will also be required to leave the house.

In June of 2016, “Huffington Post” reported that, despite Trump’s assurances, it was unable to confirm whether any money earned from sale of The Game had been donated to charity.  In any event, the original board game is now considered a collector’s item.  An unopened box sells today for $150 on eBay.

David Macaray is a playwright and author, whose latest book is How to Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows: Weird Adventures in India: Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims When the Peace Corps was New. Everything you ever wanted to know about India but were afraid to ask. He can be reached at: Read other articles by David.