Cluedo – Facts and Memories

When writing a post about the classic game Cluedo, I came across some old notes which gave me pause for thought.  

These posts were originally made on Instagram in November 2020. I’ve reproduced the original post here, as well as what came after, as I thought they were worth sharing again.

Did you know that several changes were made to Cluedo before it was released in 1949?

An obvious one is the name change: Cluedo is known as Clue in the US. But before the game was called Cluedo (a mix of the words ‘Clue’ and ‘Ludo’, Latin for ‘I play’) by UK publisher Waddingtons, the game was originally called Murder. It was thought that the name Murder would have negative and violent connotations, meaning that stores would not want to stock it.

Cluedo was created in Britian in the 1940’s, during a time when detective fiction and murder mysteries, particularly the works of Agatha Christie, were very popular. Designer Anthony E. Pratt filed his patent for his original game, Murder, in December of 1944, before taking it to publishers Waddingtons. Though Waddingtons patented Cluedo in 1947, due to material shortages after World War 2, the game wasn’t published until 1949. At the same time, it was published in the US by Parker Brothers, who droped the “do” from the name, renaming it Clue.

The name wasn’t the only thing to change. There were also originally more characters, including Mrs Silver, Mr Brown and Mr Gold. ‘Colonel Mustard’ was originally called ‘Colonel Yellow’, but had his name changed as to not associate a military man with cowardice. (To call someone “yellow” is to say that they are a coward).

I think the most interesting change is the one to Reverend Green. He was changed to Mr Green for the US version of the game. Why? Because it was thought (by US publisher Parker Brothers) that the generally more religious American public would find the idea that a man of the clergy could be capable of murder to be distasteful.

There were changes to the murder weapons too. There was originally an axe, a poison bottle and a bomb but these were changed to a spanner, a section of lead piping and infamous candlestick.

I find like stuff like this really interesting: how societal perceptions and associations can cause changes in games and art, and how that changes over time. I hope that you’ve found it interesting too

(Sources: Games Britannia, BBC, 2009. It’s All A Game, Tristan Donovan, 2017)

[What follows was a second post made shortly after the one above]

I wasn’t going to post about this, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt that I should.

When I was looking at my copy of Cluedo, which dates from 1975 and was bought second hand from a charity shop, I found a bunch of old notes from the previous owner and I found them to be quite moving.

It’s a silly thing, I know, to be moved by some scribbled notes from an old board game, which say little more than “lead piping” or “study”, but it made me think about the people this game used to belong to and the times it was played. I thought about a family, perhaps 3 generations, sitting down together, all engrossed in the game. Maybe an older couple, in the twilight of life, playing with some friends. They were having fun, I’m sure, and they forgot the world for a while.

It made me think about why this game was in the charity shop. Maybe the owner passed away, or the children grew up and left home and so it’s was donated.

Maybe it’s because I’m in a particularly pensive or wistful state of mind today, but I felt extremely lucky to find those notes. Even if they were only special to those people for a short while, they still were special.

I just wanted to share.

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