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How Risk Came About

May 28th, 2013 Games

Ruling the world is a common fantasy for people young and old. The classic board game Risk allows us to do just that - albeit in the comfort of our own homes, in the company of friends and without any of perils and trappings that come with literally trying to take over the world. Although, you should keep in mind that attempting to conquer the planet is a major time commitment - a game of Risk can go on for hours on end.

The general idea behind the game is two to six players - with their proportionately distributed pieces representing "armies" - compete to occupy 42 fictional countries. The game board is designed to resemble a map of Earth. Players start the game by choosing a country to rule or drawing a card to determine which nation will serve as their in-play homeland. By using some light mathematics to determine what their best options are, they attack adjacent nations and armies until the entire board belongs to only one player.

The conquest of the world
Described as the "first mainstream wargame" by the experts at BoardGameGeek.com, Risk first appeared in France in 1957, the creation of noted filmmaker Albert Lamorisse. Some Americans might recognize Lamorisse as the writer and director of the Oscar-winning short children's film, "The Red Balloon."

According to a summary of Risk's history from io9.com, Lamorisse came up with the concept of Risk while vacationing in Holland. His original title was The Conquest of the World.

Parker Brothers - the same Hasbro subsidiary that owns Monopoly and Sorry! - bought the rights to the game and renamed it Risk before its worldwide distribution in 1959.

As pointed out by io9, Risk has inspired different variations on its concept worldwide, although some stay truer to the source material than others. A card game based on the same general idea of Risk called Secret Missions gained popularity in Europe at one point. Secret Missions was released in the United States in 1993. There was also 1981's Axis & Allies, and 1995's Settlers of Catan, both of which are said to pay heavy homage to Risk.

Not unlike one of Parker Brothers' other most profitable games, Monopoly, different versions of Risk have been created to cater to niche audiences. The news source points to Star Wars Risk: The Clone Wars Edition, in which players fight with miniature fleets of spaceships instead of armies.

Risk in contemporary times
While some board games have waned in popularity due to the rise of the internet - and all the online gaming that it's brought about - a fairly recent article from Fast Company notes that such has not been the case for Risk, which has changed along with the times.

Borrowing the publishing rights from Hasbro, game company Electronic Arts adapted Risk for home console play in 2010. Since then, a new version of the classic game has been created for the social networking site, Facebook. In the Facebook version, players' armies can consist of zombies or cats, with each species of soldier wielding unique abilities.

"I think we nailed it with keeping true to the brand mechanics, keeping true to the feel of the fictional brand that we had built on the Xbox version, and also adding this sense of persistence that is so important to Facebook games," Spencer Brooks, the producer of the new versions of Risk, told Fast Company.