Reperesentation- Enuk The Eskimo (Board Game)

In September and October of 2013, Pinnguaq started to examine Inuit representation as it has appeared in gaming to date.  Inspired by the fact that we’re embarking on our own, Nunavut made, game as well as a recent exhibit by the Museum of Inuit Art entitled, “The Art of Play”, we were, quite honestly, surprised at how many attempts there had been to include “eskimos” in games, although entirely unsurprised at how poor that representation has been to date. 

Expanding upon our twitter posts, we hope you find this analysis of Inuit/Eskimo representation in gaming to be information, somewhat funny and push you to demand more out of cultural representation in gaming and other forms of media.

Part 1: Enuk The Eskimo (Board Game)Enuk The Eskimo- Box Cover

Enuk The Eskimo is a board game by Stefan Dorra and Manfred Reindl, published by the German company “Queen Games”.  The promotional site for the game sums up the story and backdrop for the game:

Today Enuk is allowed to join his elder brothers on the tramp - the small eskimo is really excited.

He is looking forward to seeing all the polar bears, the seals and the fishes and to feed the reindeers. But the most exciting thing to do is to build the igloo.

But the day is coming to an end soon ...
Who is able to collect the most animals and build the igloo at the same time?

We can excuse the poor English to the German ancestry of this game.   The game itself is targeted at a younger generation and has mechanics in common with a game like “Memory”, combined with perhaps even a little “Minesweeper” for lack of a better description.  To get a better idea of how it plays you can read reviews at the following websites:

Glimpse: In which I encourage you to count how many times the reviewer (who is Canadian no less), says the word “Eskimo” as she “embraces the feeling of being a family of Eskimos”

Board Game Geek gives the game a 64% by compiling community and web reviews.  There are plenty of pictures and comments on the game at this site and are worth checking out to get a full picture of the game.

The game itself is filled with the familiar Eskimo tropes.   The box showcasing the happy, smiling Eskimo child holding a perfect cube of ice or snow.  The game gets points for not including Penguins as one of the hunted animals which indicates the designers did at least a modicum of research.  Perhaps for the simple joy of alliteration, for an ease of understanding for European speakers or simply out of ignorance; the chosen spelling of “Enuk” replaces the correct spelling of “Inuk”.   In truth, a game called Inuk the Eskimo would be a fascinating use of language, combining the correct term (Inuk), the old, stale term (Eskimo) and even some English, (The).  

A game targeted at young children does nothing but present Inuit culture as a cartoony stereotype full of goofy, smiling “eskimos”.  It relies on the old tropes of the 1920’s and continues the endless barrage of Inuit as one dimensional goof balls. 

Game Pieces- Enuk The Eskimo