With a name like Propaganda — and with one of the game’s creators being Lorne Greene, the 60s western actor I had watched with my grandfather — I knew I had to purchase the game when I spotted it in the thrift store.
I’m glad I did, the game is like a time capsule from the mid-1960s.
The game is not one you just sit down and start playing. In the instruction booklet, which is 30-40 pages in length, players are advised,
“Since it is felt that an understanding of how one may deceive others is a prerequisite to an understanding of how one may be deceived by others, it is recommended that most players begin with Section A — Techniques of Self-Deception.”
the booklet further notes,
“A minimum understanding of each technique is necessary prior to the start of play; a more comprehensive understanding will develop as the players become involved in the game activities.”
The game is based on the book: Thinking Straighter a college philosophy textbook written by Dr. George Henry Moulds. Moulds, a Waverly, Iowa high school graduate was a philosophy professor at Kent State in Ohio when the game was created.
In the Dec. 9, 1966 edition of the Daily Kent Stater — the college newspaper for Kent State college — we learn the game is based on an “intriguing little brain-tickler of a course titled, ‘How To Think Straight,’ taught by Dr. Moulds.
The course, known simply as Philosophy 281, uses Moulds’ textbook and the article describes the book:
“It’s a witty book dealing with fallacies in language and methods of fooling people through the use of words. Dr. Moulds book has been gaining national attention lately because of a new propaganda game designed by Robert W. Allen, a former student of Dr. Moulds, and Lorne Greene, television star of “Bonanza.” What’s Greene doing fooling around with games? It seems that Allen and Greene, who are friends, were discussing philosophical topics one evening when Greene suggested that they design a game based on propaganda and its techniques.”
WWII Indirectly Inspires Game
After high school, Moulds graduated from Wheaton College with honors in 1938. He went on to become a high school teacher and principal before joining the Army in 1942. Moulds was assigned to the anti-aircraft division and would eventually participate in the D-Day attack.
According to the game booklet, as a result of his war experiences, Dr. Moulds turned to the study of philosophy. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago in 1959.
Value of Game
With such a specialized subject matter – and a game designed for thinking, instead of ‘fun’ — the game never really seemed to take off and it does not enjoy a significant collector’s market. The game was introduced in 1966 and came with a hard plastic shell. The version I have is the 1975 edition which has a soft plastic cover. Complete games in nice shape of the 1975 edition sell for around $10. The 1966 version — complete and in nice shape — sell for $25-$30.
When the game was released in 1966, it sold for $5.
Known for his role as Ben Cartwright in Bonanza, Greene was an accomplished actor both before and after the hit TV show. But the show had a lasting impact on the Canadian-born actor — Greene’s personal residence in Arizona was a replica of the house used on the Bonanza set.