As a child, Monopoly was my favorite game to play. My cousins would often spend the night, and along with my sister; we would stay up all night playing the game until we drew a stalemate, or we were too exhausted to continue to figure out how to mortgage properties. The occasional argument would break out amongst us, but we would try to keep our cool because we didn’t want to ruin the game.
We would aspire to own a strip of land, named after a place that we were far removed from and set up hotels in order to drive one another to bankruptcy. A fun, but very pro-neoliberal capitalistic approach to economics. Although Milburn Pennybags (the Monopoly man – yes I looked it up) looked dapper in his morning suit, top had and white curly moustache; he, nor the game by and large did not appeal to me as my own, or from me.
Although I was born and raised in the West, I was not fully Western. Perhaps it was the occasional “Paki” taunts that the “brown” kids received in school, or that there were no role models on television that looked anything like me . There were no positive characters that represented my face or values in popular sports, news or in government. Stereotypes were rampant, and I was afraid and shamed of bringing anything “ethnic” to school for lunch out of fear of being called a “curry-monger”.
In 1967, Gorge Gerbner developed the Cultivation Theory which states: “Cultivation suggests that media effects build over time through frequent, repetitive viewing. That is, heavy television viewers were more likely to perceive the real world in accordance with what they had viewed on TV” (Van Vonderen, & Kinnally, 2012). Within four decades, over 500 published studies about cultivation were published (Potter, 2014).
When Gerbner conceptualized his theory, he was interested in the macro effects of media exposure to the population, and was exclusively interested in the influence that the broader scope of messages exerted on the public through everyday media exposure (Potter, 2014). Gerbner’s theory of cultivation concentrated on the long-term effects of media exposure on a population and the analysis of the process of “acculturalization” by the public of the ideas and images being broadcasted (Potter, 2014).
Establishing an identity
I had cultivated the understanding of success through a very Eurocentric, Western perspective, and like most people, I had an identity struggle. Until society made me feel my “otherness”, I never had felt this struggle; but in retrospect, it has given me a reason to redefine myself, resulting in a greater sense of self and self-confidence.
Learning the history of the pre-colonial world gave me an understanding that colored people are not subjects of the crown, and do have a robust and distinguished history. Stories of great people such as Mansa Musa (King of Timbuktu) and the great civilizations of Andalusia, the Moors, Ottomans and Mughals gave me a great understanding of other lenses to view the world.
I found that success meant more than the Eurocentric model offered me. I can appreciate European and Western culture, but my culture was also amazing, and “my people” have also immensely contributed to global civilization in the most beautiful ways that I had not imagined. Understanding colonialism and imperialist mentality is imperative to freeing oneself of the Eurocentric mindset.
Social scientist Johan Galtung states that “in our two-nation world, imperialism can be defined as one way in which the Center (imperial nation) has power over the Periphery (colonized nation), so as to bring about a condition of disharmony between them” (Galtung, 1971).
All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.
Prophet Muhammad (sas)
First off, Pakopuly is not a real game being produced anywhere. It’s a novelty game that I designed and constructed. Initially I made it just for fun, but in hindsight, it has a much deeper meaning for me. It shows the cities and monuments of my ancestral home; Pakistan in the forefront of the game. Although it is clear that the main character is a rip-off of Milburn Pennybags, it has a distinct Pakistani twist. I included a deep sense of Pakistani sentiment, pop-culture and politics throughout the game. It is a Pakcentric twist on a Eurocentric classic.
I designed the game in Adobe Illustrator, from the logo, to the board, to the money. With pen and ink, I drew one bank note by hand (reminiscent of Pakistani rupees with Quaid-e-Azam on the note), then in Illustrator, vectorized and manipulated it. I did the same with all of the drawings throughout the game board, and cards. For game pieces, I had in mind to collect random handicrafts that I had acquired from family and friends brining me mementos from their trips to the homeland. I printed the board out on a laser jet printer and assembled it onto a folded piece of illustration board, by hand and glued all pieces in place.
Pakopuly was in my garage collecting dust, until I had some family visit and strike up a conversation about playing board games. I remembered my endeavor and brought it out. Revisiting the game made me think; not only about how I made and designed it, but about what I truly identify with and the struggles of many Western minorities who have cultivated Eurocentric views, which are not aligned with their inner self-identities.
Prophet Muhammad (sas), (10 AH/630CE, Dhul Hijjah 9). The Last Sermon of Muhammad.
Galtung, J. (1971). A Structural Theory of Imperialism. Journal of Peace Research, 81-117.
Potter, J. W. (2014). A Critrical Analysis of Cultivation Theory. Journal of Communication, 1015-1036.
Schmidt, J. D., & Jacques, H. (2018). Economic History and the “East Wind”. Monthly Review, 15-30.
Van Vonderen,, K. E., & Kinnally, W. (2012). Media Effects on Body Image: Examining Media Exposure in the Broader Context of Internal and Other Social Factors. American Communication Journal, 41-69.