Only if you get clubbed in the head with one. Otherwise they’re just lame games that can freak out your friends during sleepovers. Still, Fox sees fit to make them news anyway.
It’s designed for young girls ages 8 and older, but some say the mysterious product is a “dangerous spiritual game” that opens up anyone, particularly Christians, to attacks on their soul.
The game continues to be sold at Toys R Us locations in the U.S. and Canada for $19.99, although it’s currently being “phased out,” company officials say.
“There’s a spiritual reality to it and Hasbro is treating it as if it’s just a game,” said Stephen Phelan, communications director for Human Life International, which bills itself as the largest international pro-life organization and missionary worldwide. “It’s not Monopoly. It really is a dangerous spiritual game and for [Hasbro] to treat it as just another game is quite dishonest.”
But it is just a game! That shit’s not real. Impressionable brains can make it feel real but Ouija boards aren’t soul stealers.
The pink edition is also available for $33.99 on Amazon.com, where some commenters likened the game to occult materials targeting “tween” girls.
“Just unbelievable,” one posting read. “Hasbro — you should be seriously ashamed — you have lost your way. Ouija boards are NOT ‘games’ and they certainly should not be marketing these to children.”
Toy expert and consultant Chris Byrne said he found “absolutely nothing” wrong with any version of the game.
“And if something doesn’t fit your value or belief system, you don’t have to buy it,” Byrne said. “There’s absolutely nothing remotely Christian or un-Christian about it. I think people are projecting their belief system on it.”
Byrne, who writes for timetoplaymag.com, said he was unclear of the origin of the notion that Ouija players can somehow communicate with spirits or the dead.
The history of the game is pretty tame, really, but there are some inconsistencies over who should get credit for it. Essortment suggests E.C. Reiche and Charles Kennard based their game on earlier “automatic writing” devices assumed to be capable of letting spirits get a word in edgewise.
While using this new invention, Reiche received a message to call the board Ouija after the Egyptian word for luck. Unfortunately, ouija is not the Egyptian word for luck but it is such a cool sounding word that it has remained the name of the most popular talking boards to this day.
Kennard marketed these talking boards through the Kennard Novelty Company, beginning in 1890. His advertisements claimed the Ouija board would “give an intelligent answer to any question”. Unfortunately for Kennard, his shop foreman orchestrated a hostile takeover by his financial backers and by 1892, the Ouija board was in the hands of William Fuld.
Mitch Horowitz offers a slightly different version.
The patent for a “Ouija or Egyptian luck-board” was filed on May 28, 1890 by Baltimore resident and patent attorney Elijah H. Bond, who assigned the rights to two city businessmen, Charles W. Kennard and William H.A. Maupin. The patent was granted on February 10, 1891, and so was born the Ouija-brand talking board.
And Reiche, or perhaps Reichie, had nothing to do with it.
this figure appears virtually nowhere else in Ouija history, including on the first patent. His name came up during a period of patent litigation about thirty years after Ouija’s inception. A 1920 account in New York’s World Magazine – widely disseminated that year in the popular weekly The Literary Digest – reports that one of Ouija’s early investors told a judge that E.C. Reichie had invented the board. But no reference to an E.C. Reichie – be he a cabinetmaker or coffin maker – appears in the court transcript, according to Ouija historian and talking-board manufacturer Robert Murch.
But maybe it doesn’t matter much anyway. Horowitz makes mention of the fact that a lot of people had homemade boards back then that did the same thing the “official” board does: passed the time and entertained people.
At his online Museum of Talking Boards, Ouija collector and chronicler Eugene Orlando posts an 1886 article from the New-York Daily Tribune (as reprinted that year in a Spiritualist monthly, The Carrier Dove) describing the breathless excitement around the new-fangled alphabet board and its message indicator. “I know of whole communities that are wild over the ‘talking board,’” says a man in the article. This was a full four years before the first Ouija patent was filed. Obviously Bond, Kennard, and their associates were capitalizing on an invention – not conceiving of one.
It’s entertainment. If people want to believe there’s real spiritual connection going on, I guess they don’t have to buy the game.
People are so darn silly.