Last month, Matthew Hanna, a 35-year-old white finance analyst from Brickell, released an adult drinking game, Right or Racist, on Amazon. The way Hanna sees it, the game is a lighthearted way to touch on the toughest subjects in America by "measuring" players' levels of bigotry and political correctness by testing their assumptions through statistics and historical facts.
"Miami is like its own country [in that] it has its own stereotypes to debunk," he says of his motivation to create the game, which raised thousands of dollars on Kickstarter and has sold dozens of copies.
But critics have already lined up against the game, noting that a video ad seems to make light of bombing civilians in the Middle East and that the game encourages players to debate supposedly "subjective" topics such as whether Black Lives Matter is a hate group.
"Instead of creating a nurturing, safe space where people can learn about history and culture, [Hanna has] made a contest in which you end up pointing fingers and calling someone an emotionally charged word," says Donald Jones, a constitutional law professor at University of Miami, who's written three books about race theory and civil rights. "I'm appalled. It's essentially a game of 'gotcha.'"
Hanna, who goes by the handle "tindermaster" on Instagram, says he was inspired to create the game when he mistook Taiwanese musician Jay Chou for Korean-American actor John Cho in Now You See Me 2.
"My friend joked that I thought all Asians look alike," he says. "It was a mistake, but it also struck me that we've gotten to this point where everything we say is offensive."
On August 2, Hanna, who has worked for Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, launched a Kickstarter campaign for Right or Racist. In 20 days, he received 91 backers and $2,211 in pledges. Three months later, he released the game on Amazon for $24.95. Since then, he says, he's already sold more than 70 boxes despite having done little marketing.
In the game, players engage in one of two activities. The first has them debating statements such as "middle-to-upper-class white kids who listen to rap are posers," "one should always stand for the national anthem and respect the flag," and "cultural appropriation is a bunch of liberal nonsense."
The second requires players to vote "right" or "racist" to statements about stereotypes, such as "the Daily Mail reported that Koreans have the smallest average penis in the world at less than 3.7," "Pew Research Center estimates that Mexicans made up 72 percent of all unauthorized immigrants in 2014," and "in Singapore, tourists who overstay a 90-day tourist visa are subject to canings."
A scorecard is then used to rate players' answers and profile them as "a racist bigot," "a sissy snowflake," or "somewhere in between."
Hanna admits he's received some negative feedback by people who say he's "trivializing [the subject of racism] by making it a game." But he says those complaints are "not helpful" and insists his intentions are to "take the barbed wire" off a "sticky topic."
"Most people would assume that minorities might be offended by the game, but I think they generally agree that it's important for people to share their opinions, as long as [those opinions] aren't hateful or extremist," says Hanna, who did not directly work with any minorities while creating the game. "I have friends from all walks of life, and they've enjoyed the game."
But Jones says the idea of a well-off white man making a game that "judges" racism is deeply flawed from the get-go.
"You can't make [a game about racism] from a position of privilege," he says. "It requires a deeper inquiry. You need to consider the opinions of people from these groups."
Hanna says he tried to avoid his own biases by basing most trivia questions on data and studies pulled from reputable sources such as the FBI, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the New York Times. "It's not like I took information from some random source from Twitter. I didn't want to spread fake news," he says, adding in a text: "I don't want to be painted as some racist white guy."
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
But Jones says it's unlikely that people's understanding of racism can change "simply by looking at a group of statistics."
"In this country, we have a history of racism that has been crystallized into stories: Black people are portrayed as stupid, lazy, or crime-prone; Hispanics are portrayed as dishonest thieves, rapists, or drug dealers; and Jewish people are seen as stingy," Jones explains. "The way out of this culture of stereotypes is to read about history, understand culture, and learn about political figures. It's about nurturing introspection."
Hanna says he still has high hopes for the game and is already brainstorming ideas for expansion packs. Jones says he hopes the game fizzles out.
"[Hanna has] monetized a bad idea," Jones says. "I just hope that people aren't drinking and [that] there are no guns in the house while they're playing this game."