Games with Geographic Errors

Most of the images of board games were obtained at boardgamegeek.com, a great resource for all matters related to board games.  The images of video games were captured as freeze-frames from videos accessible on YouTube.  See below for the source for each image, as well as further commentary and added references if needed.  A few of these errors were corrected in subsequent editions, as noted below.


Daytona USAhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAcMqFTkAs8 (still image at 0:13)

The game was inspired by the Daytona 500, the most famous NASCAR race, which is held annually at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida.  Florida has the lowest peak elevation of any U.S. state; its highest point is Britton Hill, whose peak is a mere 345 feet (105 meters) above sea level.   Specifically, Daytona Beach is in Florida's Volusia County, whose highest natural point is only 119 feet (37 meters) above sea level (http://www.peakbagger.com/peak.aspx?pid=22834).

 

Rival Turf!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HY2DcXuU8kg (still image at 0:16)

The game was Japanese-made, perhaps explaining a lower level of familiarity with North American geography.  The original Japanese version, called Rushing Beat, was set in the fictitious Neo Cisco.

 

Travel Bloghttp://boardgamegeek.com/image/1089052/travel-blog

In the game-makers’ defense, the European map board for Travel Blog is incredibly detailed:  it includes all the microstates, even Vatican City and San Marino.


Need for Speed 2http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RH_ZNKakg4  (still image at 2:25)

This is from the Australia - Outback level of Need for Speed 2.  Just three seconds earlier at 2:22, the Sydney Opera House is visible ahead and to the right, so the racetrack is quite undeniably in Sydney.  Part of the racetrack seems to cross Sydney Harbour Bridge, follow Circular Quay, and pass Sydney Opera House, though other parts of the racetrack don’t seem to represent real-life features.


Pax Britannicahttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxY84QyD5wo (still image at 1:26)

See http://boardgamegeek.com/image/133265/pax-britannica?size=original for the full game board, though unfortunately the two mislabeled capes are too small to read in that image.  The game-maker himself acknowledges the error at http://www.costik.com/pbimpro.html, and it was fixed in subsequent editions.  Incidentally, the southernmost point in Africa is actually Cape Agulhas, not the Cape of Good Hope; the Sporcle quiz therefore accepts either answer, though the game board is mislabeled as Cape of Good Hope rather than Cape Agulhas.


Top Racer 2:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HJg4DjPFvM (still image at 1:12)

This is Race 13 in the SNES version of Top Racer 2.  The game depicts only the Great Temple (and it’s actually a pretty good depiction, for that level of resolution), but in real life both the Great Temple and the Small Temple at Abu Simbel face toward Lake Nasser, not away from it.  The temples were relocated to their current positions when Lake Nasser was being created by the Aswan Dam.


Twilight Struggle (Chile):   http://boardgamegeek.com/image/140890/twilight-struggle?size=original

Although it’s true that some English-language sources spelled the country’s name as Chili before the twentieth century, the game is set during the Cold War, so the misspelling on the first edition board is definitely an error.  The modern-day Spanish spelling is likewise Chile rather than Chili.  The first edition map board also misspells “Replublic” (sic) in the name of the People’s Republic of China (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/212954/twilight-struggle).


Risk (Afghanistan):  http://boardgamegeek.com/image/1044587/risk?size=original

Risk has many editions with slightly different maps, but every edition I’ve consulted has the territory of Afghanistan located entirely north of the real-life country of Afghanistan; in fact, the country’s northern border matches very neatly with the territory’s southern border.  The edition shown here is the English tin edition from 1999.  The Afghanistan error has even been cited in Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Risk_(game)), in note 2 in the section on Territories.

 

Professor Layton and the Miracle Maskhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuIV7Isao70 (still image at 0:17)

In addition to the above video, the Gamespot review notes that the game is set in Monte d'Or, a city "in the middle of a vast, arid desert in England."  (http://www.gamespot.com/professor-layton-and-the-miracle-mask/)  Oddly, no one seems to find it odd that there's a vast desert in England.  Why a town in the United Kingdom has such a Continental-sounding name is never addressed either, but it's definitely set in the UK, and the characters even include three investigators from Scotland Yard.  It's also a bit curious that the character on the left is wearing a necktie while hiking in the desert, but the English tend to dress more formally than Americans do, so maybe England's vast deserts are full of necktie-wearing hikers.


Ticket to Ride Europa 1912http://boardgamegeek.com/image/98439/ticket-to-ride-europe?size=original

Ticket to Ride Europa 1912 is an expansion set using the same board as the original Ticket to Ride Europa; however, even though the year in Ticket to Ride Europa is left more ambiguous (anytime in the first decade of the 1900s, and before the upgrades of the 1912 set), it undeniably precedes 1914, so the Petrograd reference is anachronistic even without the expansion set.  However, I cited the expansion set in the slide for added clarity on the year.  The city, which had been known as St. Petersburg since its founding in 1703, changed its name to Petrograd in 1914 with the start of World War I, adopting a Slavic name over a Germanic one.  (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/518092/Saint-Petersburg)  In addition, St. Petersburg should be on the coast and much farther north than Riga.


Spy vs. Spy III: Arctic Antics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mg5q_sgaJQU (still image at 0:32)

This game was sanctioned by Mad Magazine, creators of Spy vs. Spy, but there’s no indication that the presence of penguins in the Arctic was a deliberate joke.  As the Britannica notes, all penguins, regardless of species, are native solely to the Southern Hemisphere (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/449815/penguin).  By contrast, the arcade game Dynamite Dux places penguins in the Texas desert, which in that case is almost certainly meant as a joke.


Diplomacyhttp://boardgamegeek.com/image/11384/diplomacy

The source of the image didn't specify the year of this Avalon Hill edition.  While Wales has greatly expanded, Scotland and Ireland aren't labelled at all, and England seems to be used as a name for the entire island of Great Britain.  It's a surprisingly high density of errors for such a well-known part of the world.

 

Twilight Struggle (Iran):  http://boardgamegeek.com/image/140885/twilight-struggle?size=original

The modern-day Iranian flag, seen near the right edge of the slide, was adopted the year after Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution; the insignia in the middle of the flag is a stylized version of “Allah.”  As a result, there was no year in which the Egyptian and Iranian flags depicted on the game board would have coexisted. For added challenge, the slide is deliberately cropped so that Iran's flag is visible but its name is not; otherwise, players could just type all the country names visible in the slide.

 

Risk (New Zealand):  http://boardgamegeek.com/image/676138/risk?size=original

Flinders Island, shown on the Risk board just northeast of Tasmania, has an area of approximately 515 square miles (1333 sq. km); New Zealand, which is cropped from the game board entirely, has an area of approximately 103,500 square miles (268,000 sq. km).  Unfortunately for our Kiwi friends, most map-based board games seem to omit New Zealand.  Though arguably not strictly an error--game-makers can omit countries, or entire continents, if they wish--it's certainly inconsistent to include a small island while excluding a country in the same region that's orders of magnitude larger, and the inclusion of the far smaller island implies a false degree of accuracy.

 

Rad Mobile:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bi-WtjCCQe4  (still image at 2:06)

Chicago is round 13 in the Sega arcade game, and its climate is far too cold to support rows of lakeside palm trees.  Shortly before the palm trees come into view, an enormous cruise ship is seen on Lake Michigan beginning at 1:52.

 

Ticket to Ride:   http://boardgamegeek.com/image/725196/ticket-to-ride?size=original

The game rules explicitly state that the game action begins on October 2, 1900.  From 1890 to 1911, the U.S. Board of Geographic Names, which is the definitive authority on U.S. toponymy, decreed that the city’s name was spelled Pittsburg, without the final H; for the sake of uniformity, all U.S. place names ending in -burgh were changed to -burg.  During that time period, Pittsburgh’s city government generally continued to use the spelling Pittsburgh, but that wasn’t the official spelling as far as the U.S. federal government and the U.S. postal service were concerned.  See http://www.carnegielibrary.org/exhibit/hname.html for a detailed account of the Pittsburgh/Pittsburg temporary name change.  There are other errors on the Ticket to Ride map as well:  Sault Ste. Marie is misspelled as Sault St. Marie (though it's cropped from the slide to avoid confusion with the intended answer), and Duluth should be on Lake Superior, but instead it’s shown where Minneapolis ought to be.  The game-maker has explained that the game board originally included Minneapolis instead of Duluth, but the city was changed when it was discovered that Duluth was a more important railroad hub in 1900; by that point, however, it was too late to alter the city’s position on the game board.

 

Command & Conquer: Generals: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnwGdZ333hA  (still image at 0:10)

This massive US Navy flotilla, which includes at least one aircraft carrier (shown earlier in the above video, but not in the slide), is part of USA Campaign Mission 4, Operation Stormbringer.  The text on the screen describes the setting as “Kazakhstan Coast,” which could only be the Caspian Sea, and other materials about the game explicitly identify it as the Caspian Sea (http://cnc.wikia.com/wiki/Stormbringer).  How US Navy ships miraculously reached the Caspian Sea, given that they are far too large to traverse any rivers connected to the Caspian, is never explained.  To say nothing of the aircraft carrier, even a Ticonderoga-class cruiser, which according to the above source inspired the battleship shown, has a draft three times too large to fit through the smallest lock of the Volga-Don Canal.

 

Pandemichttp://boardgamegeek.com/image/303846/pandemic?size=original

Calcutta has been known as Kolkata since 2001, as part of the same series of changes that previously caused Bombay to become Mumbai and Madras to become Chennai, both of which are reflected on the game board.  To their credit, the game-makers acknowledged the error, so the Pandemic game board was updated with the name Kolkata in subsequent editions.  Another geographic error in Pandemic is that the Aral Sea is shown at its full extent, before it began drying up in the 1960s; the game map uses the post-1996 names for Mumbai and Chennai, yet even by 1996, the Aral Sea had sadly diminished to a tiny fraction of its former size.  Pandemic, like Risk, includes Flinders Island near Tasmania but omits New Zealand.  On the other hand, Pandemic also omits King Island, the comparably-sized island west of Flinders Island, while Risk includes both.  There are several versions of the Pandemic game board; the version shown here was copyrighted in 2007.

 

Invasion America:  http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/347052/invasion-america?size=original

The Tennessee River is the largest tributary of the Ohio River, and the Ohio River later converges with the Mississippi River.  The Ohio River appears on the Invasion America map board, making it even more peculiar that the Tennessee River is shown as flowing directly into the Mississippi River instead. (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/587340/Tennessee-River)

 

Moral Conflict 1939: http://boardgamegeek.com/image/1349829/moral-conflict-1939?size=original

Despite its proximity to Italy, Corsica has been under French control since the 18th century, with the sole exception of a brief occupation by Germany and Italy from 1942 to 1943.  (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/138780/Corsica)  The game is set in 1939 as its title implies, so Corsica's coloration on the map clearly isn’t meant to represent that subsequent brief deviation from French control, and of course the rest of France isn't recolored to reflect its subsequent occupation either.

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