(The Board) Games People Play: #14, Scoop

“Papers, papers, read all about the news…”

Friday 07 January 1983

There goes my first New Year’s Revolution: I am now the proud ‘owner’ of a white newspaper bag with Sunday Mirror across the front. I am now a morning paperboy. My round from Brocklehurst’s Newsagent covers Carrhill Road, Stockport Road, Mill Lane, and New Earth Street. I can see why Mossley paperboys are fitter than, for example, their Droylsdonian fellows: the hills. Plenty of them.

Most of the readers on my round take The Sun, Daily Mirror, and the Daily Star. More people read the Daily Express than the Daily Mail. Wednesdays and Thursdays will be pretty heavy going: The Beano is out on Wednesdays as is The Beezer; Thursday means the Topper and the Dandy.

Still, I would rather be a musician than the next Derek Jameson. At least it pays for next year’s Mossley AFC season ticket and other bits. Oh, and the odd night out with Tricia (speaking of whom, she forgot it was disco night at George Lawton Hall yesterday).

Scoop

For the benefit of bibliophiles, Waddingtons’ Scoop isn’t a board game based on Evelyn Waugh’s novel. It is based around Fleet Street based shenanigans, trying to win a circulation war against rival players. The game dates from 1953, which in the era of the fourth estate was a different world to 2017. Britain’s Number One tabloid newspaper was the Daily Mirror. The Daily Herald had yet to transmogrify into The Sun eleven years later. (It flopped before its publishers sold the title to Rupert Murdoch and the rest they say…).

Each player aims to fill the front page of their adopted newspaper with stories and advertisements. If your front page has the highest value, you’ve won the game. The value varies according to the product or the story. To start, players need to ‘buy’ or collect three different cards: a reporter; a photographer; and a telephone call card. Stories can be accepted or rejected by the editor, a phone line away.

In the 1988 version of the board game, a cardboard telephone was replaced by a red plastic telephone. Like the one in Electronic Dream Phone, battery operated (and lacking a REN 1.0 socket for real ‘phone calls). For each country, newspaper titles varied. For example, in place of The Sun, the Germany edition would have Bild.

For about two minutes in 1988, newspapers seemed to be sexy again. New technology meant colour printing became the norm. The Guardian had a revolutionary redesign that year. Andrew Marshall’s and David Renwick’s Hot Metal satirised the gutter press to great effect. This over twelve episodes on a Sunday night in the Spitting Image slot (graphics by the legendary John Tribe). Thames Television’s latest quiz that year was Headliners, presented by Derek Jameson.

Sadly, it wasn’t sexy for the compositors who lost their jobs. The strong print unions and chapels are no more, and today’s newspapers are delivered by lorries instead of by rail. Oh, and most our news comes via the internet these days.

S.V., 14 December 2017.

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