Following on from my last blog about games reminded me that several years ago I renamed some games to get away from the negative connotations that would not have been recognised in Eric Berne’s time.
It seemed to me that we should not be referring to names such as Rapo, Now I’ve Got You, you Son of a Bitch, and Wooden Leg - for reasons that are obvious now.
Hence, I suggested that we changed them as follows:
Rapo became Rebuff (Hay, 1993), which still captures the same essence of appearing to offer something and then reacting negatively when someone begins to take what they think has been offered – but without restricting this to sexual activities and without any implied suggestion that rape victims somehow ‘invite’ what happens to them.
Rebuff can be illustrated with examples such as Person A within an organisation who points out that someone could avoid paying an external printer if they use the printing machine in Person A’s office – but then when Person B arrives to do that Person A complains that they are much too busy printing their own work. The domestic example might be that someone offers to babysit any time but then gets angry when they are asked to do so and says they are much too busy and would have needed far more warning.
NIGYSOB (using the initials only as if it is a word does not change the fact that it involves referring to someone as a bitch) became Gotcha (Hay, 1993) – the same dynamic is suggested without the politically incorrect insult.
Wooden Leg became Millstone (Hay, 1995), using the metaphor of ‘having a millstone around my neck’ and hence avoiding reference to a real physical disability.
Before the changes above, I had already renamed Argentina as Can You Guess – or CYG -(Hay, 1992) because I found that people struggled with the name as the theme was not clear. The new name captures the same dynamic, whereby the teacher asks the class for an answer and then keeps telling them they have the wrong answer before triumphantly announcing the correct answer. In Berne’s case he used pampas grass as the correct answer to what is Argentina famous for, and trainers often do something similar when they think they are getting participant involvement but they already have in mind what answer they want. They fail to realise that it is obvious to the students – especially when the teacher then uncovers something they have already written on the board or shows their pre-prepared PowerPoint or otherwise uses something that they prepared earlier.
How long will it go on?
As I write this blog, I am shocked to realise that it is now over 20 years since I suggested that we should pay attention to the language we use within the TA community – and yet still many authors continue to use the original terms. It is difficult enough to have to explain to people that the early TA literature was written in line with the culture at the time, when awareness of discriminatory language was not developed. It is not helpful when we continue to use the same outdated terminology. I am sure that if Berne had lived longer, he would have been changing his own material, and I invite you to help me by using the new names in your own TA work.
And let me know if you think there are any other game names that need the same kind of attention.
Hay, Julie (1992) Transactional Analysis for Trainers London: McGraw-Hill
Hay, Julie (1993) Working it Out at Work Watford: Sherwood Publishing
Hay, Julie (1995) Donkey Bridges for Developmental TA Watford: Sherwood Publishing
© 2018 Julie Hay
Julie is a fan of open access publishing so feel free to reproduce any of these blogs as long as you still attribute it to her.