Reading a recent op/ed in the New York Times comparing the current gasoline price hikes to the fuel crises of the 1970s, I came across mention of a dice-rolling board game from that time called “Gas Crisis.” According to boardgamegeek.com, players “drove” either gas guzzlers or smaller cars and needed $1000 to get around the board. Guzzlers threw three dice, smaller cars two (I think.) If you ran out of money before getting around the board, you lost. Game over.
In the midst of the current gas crisis (if it is in fact a “crisis”) it’s instructive to reflect back on the late 70s–a time when panic of a very real sort set in across the country. Several months ago I posted a blog piece about a McDonalds commercial exploiting the national mood to sell burgers. The Gas Crisis board game is another cultural artifact of that era and a small but striking example of just how deep of an impression that episode made on the national psyche. Just like Monopoly was a product of the Great Depression of the 1930s, Gas Crisis was a product of a time when things seemed to have changed permanently for the worse. (Of course, Monopoly has had way more staying power than Gas Crisis–probably a testament to the fact that no matter the state of the economy, it’s fun to pretend to be a real estate mogul and run your competitors out of business.)
I wonder if our current fuel price hikes will inspire similarly amusing commercials and games. Will we one day look back at such artifacts and sigh with relief that gas prices have been brought back down to artificially low levels. Or will we laugh bitterly as we recall a time when $4/gallon gas seemed outrageously expensive?
You can check out more of my writing on energy and renewable energy and learn about my book-in-progress at renewablebook.com.