Sunday, May 3, 2009

'Population' board game (Urban Systems, Inc., 1971)

So, it’s a rainy Autumn night late in 1971. There’s nothing much on the TV, your Carole King ‘Tapestry’ LP record has been played to death, and you’re a bit downhearted after reading, say, Paul Ehrlich’s paperback ‘The Population Bomb’. What do you do for fun ? Well, you can pull out the board game ‘Population’ and play out a grim scenario of overpopulation and eco-catastrophe in the comfort of your living room !

There’s a lengthy review of the game, as well as some interesting information about the company that designed and sold it, Urban Systems, posted at So I won’t go into too much detail over the game per se. It’s a great piece of early 70’s techno-design, with its futuristic ‘checkbook’ font, and very 'hip' chiaroscuro-inspired cover illustration. ‘Population’ is an entertaining example at how the over-riding eco-concern of the day was co-opted by the popular culture, but in a rather engaging, and even cerebral, manner.

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