Stephen King Co-Designed a 'Shining' Game and It's Creepy as Heck

Stephen King Co-Designed a 'Shining' Game and It's Creepy as Heck

In 1998, a print-and-play board game version of Stephen King's novel The Shining was developed and released. It is an odd and eerie game that the author himself helped design, and you can download it for free today!

All play and no work?

Stanley Kubrick's movie adaptation of Stephen King's 1977 novel, The Shining, did not sit well with the author. This is no secret; in interviews, the prolific horror writer is quoted as saying, "parts of the film are chilling, charged with a relentless claustrophobic terror... but others fall flat." Crucially, he says, "A visceral skeptic such as Kubrick just couldn't grasp the sheer inhuman terror of the Overlook Hotel."

So, it seems, King took it upon himself to co-create yet another version of his book, to stand apart from the Kubrick's film. Only this iteration came in the form of a print-and-play board game.

Download the rules and game board in the 'files' section at BoardGameGeek.

In the game itself, two players face off against one another in an asymmetrical battle of wits. One player controls the luckless Torrance family of Jack, Danny and Wendy - while the other portrays the evil and sentient Overlook Hotel itself. It should be said from the beginning, the Torrance family is not going to have a pleasant vacation.

The game includes many elements of the novel that the iconic 1980 film leaves out. For example, the Hotel player also has control over the animated topiaries of the hedge garden, which never come to life in the movie.

It should be noted that sources variously describe King as co-designer, or playtester, or both - but one commenter on the 'OpenCulture' blog suggests that he was neither, and had little to do with the game other than approving it and providing the inspiration.

Still, this is a fascinating little piece of cardboard (or whatever you happen to print it on). Played on two boards, it might seem from a distance like a war-game, with each side deploying and moving units, attacking each other (the Humans, Phantoms, and Hedge Animals all have attack and defense values). That doesn't mean this will satisfy people looking to replace their Warhammer minis- at the same time, the Hotel player is able to deploy nefarious and manipulative tricks, using hidden information and false tells to confuse and eventually doom the Torrance family.

Personally, it brings to mind an earlier, simpler version of Fantasy Flight's Mansions of Madness.

Has anyone else here played the game, or would you? What did you think of it?

And am I the only one imagining Kubrick and King sitting across from each other, the great director leaping up, flipping the table, and shouting, "!%#* topiary rush is OP! I never put them in my movie!"

Source: OpenCulture, BoardGameGeek

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So I'm guessing its a poorly written game that hasn't aged well at all and is only really popular with nostalgia blinded fans from the 80s and 90s who thought the Leprechaun movies were too graphic and scary?

Silentpony:
So I'm guessing its a poorly written game that hasn't aged well at all and is only really popular with nostalgia blinded fans from the 80s and 90s who thought the Leprechaun movies were too graphic and scary?

No, it's more likely a well-written but obnoxiously verbose game that actually has very little to do with horror and is baffled but accepting of the fact that people think it is.

I'm gonna be honest, Stephen. I liked the Kubrick version better.

FalloutJack:
I'm gonna be honest, Stephen. I liked the Kubrick version better.

Yup, same here. The mini series is quite boring.

I can attest to "Mansions of Madness" being an entertaining game with a feel of desperation and pressure, especially when the monsters come crawling out of the woodwork.

In fairness, I have to admit I'm a bit of a fan of FFG's work, but they do have some wonderful production values.
"Arkham Horror" remains my favorite game from them and is a wonderful experience of a game.
I recommend anyone take the chance to play it if ever be offered.

Now, A very close example of a game that fits the mold of the outlook hotel would be Avalon Hill's "Betrayal at House on the Hill".
In that game one player eventually becomes the 'traitor', driven either to madness by the mystic goings on at the house or motivated by some hitherto unknown drive to betray the other players.
At that point the rest of the group must attempt to defeat or survive the actions of the player in question.
A little like ol' jack going mad and hunting the others with his axe really.

It's interesting to think Steven may have been part of the game creation, though even if he wasn't as claimed on openculture it's still an interesting idea, though I do prefer the scenario provided by "betrayal" as listed above.
Adversarial one on one games can by very good indeed, but multiple players and asymmetrical team play can result in some very dynamic results.

Mikeybb:
...A very close example of a game that fits the mold of the outlook hotel would be Avalon Hill's "Betrayal at House on the Hill".

That's an even better comparison, you're right! I completely forgot about Betrayal. Haven't played it enough.

PatrickJS:

Mikeybb:
...A very close example of a game that fits the mold of the outlook hotel would be Avalon Hill's "Betrayal at House on the Hill".

That's an even better comparison, you're right! I completely forgot about Betrayal. Haven't played it enough.

Can't vouch for how well it plays out either.
The chance to play this hasn't manifested yet, but I hold out hope.

This said, while 'betrayal' has the possession element, the adversarial component is better expressed by the example made with 'mansions', given your opposition is already in play from the beginning and plotting your demise, rather than being automated for the first half.

Johnny Novgorod:

FalloutJack:
I'm gonna be honest, Stephen. I liked the Kubrick version better.

Yup, same here. The mini series is quite boring.

I read the book a while before seeing the Kubrick version and I hated his adaptation. It was like he dropped acid and then decided to adapt the book to film.
Admit it, without Jack Nicholson's manic performance it would just be another B-grade horror at best. Jack Torrance in the novel is a lot different to Nicholson's portrayal. You don't get that level of pathos that's conveyed in the book. He's a mountain of a man (loosely based on King himself), whose overriding fear is being a failure to the family he holds so dear. His various knock-backs drive him to the drink, which brings out the worst in him, which inevitably makes him become the thing he most fears. In the end of the book it is his love for his family that causes him to self-sacrifice and buy them some time. That's the part the mini series got right. However it did drag on a bit.

 

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