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11 Reasons Why Hangman Is An Inappropriate / Offensive Game (Politically Incorrect,…)

Last Updated on January 7, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

Illustration of hangman game
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Many people around the world are enjoying the game of Hangman right now. But did you know some people consider this game to be unacceptable? In some places, playing Hangman is considered quite offensive. Of course, it’s a personal choice. You can buy into the fact that it demonstrates brutal violence, or you could treat it simply as a game. Which group do you belong to? The haters of Hangman or the supporters? 

Many people worldwide claim to see flaws in the game and claim it is unsuitable for educational purposes. While some people may consider it acceptable to hang the stick-figure man for various reasons, others are wholly offended and want nothing to do with the game. Why do the latter take such a strong stance? 

The following are some of the reasons at the forefront of why some people do not favor Hangman. It’s a point of contention. If you’re unsure how you feel, perhaps take a look at each of the cited reasons for its offensive and then decide for yourself. 

Let’s delve into the reasons why Hangman is inappropriate and offensive. Read on if this intrigues you. 

1. Hanging is still a capital form of punishment in some countries.

There are several countries around the world where hanging is a capital form of punishment. Playing Hangman amidst a backdrop of a harsh sentence seems insensitive, don’t you think? 

There are numerous variations of Hangman out there. People should explore alternatives in these countries as Hangman is merely a word-guessing game at its core. If someone comes from a country where hanging is a punishment used to control the nation, suggesting a Hangman game with them might seem inappropriate (in fact, it is unacceptable).

2. People see the concept of a hanging man as violent. 

A hanging stick figure may not seem like much to some people, but others see an image of a man hanging as gory. What may seem like a stick figure on a piece of paper can easily be converted to an actual person in mobile apps. 

Every child’s response to a hanging stick man varies. Children have a vivid imagination, and parents have the right to be concerned about how developers present this game. Parents should supervise the version of Hangman that children download. 

3. People see gallows as inappropriate in a child’s game. 

Gallows – the structure on which criminals hang. While stick figures represent Hangman well, some people see gallows as inappropriate to use in a child’s game. 

Themes highlighting hanging and death do not appeal to parents when selecting games for their young kids. Alternatives to Hangman are applicable for a younger audience. 

4. The game may depict racial insensitivity. 

Lynching, which in many cases involves hanging people, is a dark part of America’s history used to express hate toward African Americans and Native Americans. Till today, the noose – which is the loop at the end of a rope with a running knot – carries memories that symbolize brutality and hate.

People should avoid anything evoking such memories at all costs. Replacing the game of Hangman with a decent substitute is a safer way to proceed. Barriers across cultures still exist, and victims of hate require an understanding and empathetic heart from society.

5. There are themes of suicide present.  

Lynch's loop on gray background
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With depression looming and anxiety affecting youth, self-harm has almost become a norm, especially for young people. With hanging being one of the most recurrent methods of suicide, it’s no wonder Hangman is frowned upon by many parents. 

Some parents have gone as far as getting the school principals’ attention to forbid entire schools to play a game of Hangman. Educators now find the need to get creative in the way they present guessing games to students. Great versions of Hangman, such as Snowman and Spaceman, have been rolled out. 

6. The Hangman game has a rather unpleasant history.  

Many believe that the game of Hangman developed from a true story. A Hangman (A person responsible for overseeing that criminals were hung) would play a guessing game with his victims. Every criminal would guess the letter of a secret word. The victim would stand on a five-legged stool with a noose around his neck. Every incorrect guess saw a chair leg chopped off. After five wrong guesses, the victim met his death. 

This game is said to have occurred around the 17th century in Europe. Criminals who figured out the secret word were set free. However, it is doubtful that a Hangman set criminals free as Hangmen used to mock criminals for being illiterate. 

7. Players may win games and not know the meaning of words. 

Educators may argue that while a game of Hangman may undoubtedly be fun for students, many students may be great at correctly guessing letters. Being a good guesser in no way means a student has grasped the concept of the words they learn daily. It just indicates that a student has just become familiar with applying strategies to win the game of Hangman by calling out the most commonly used letters. 

Knowing a word and being able to use it in context are two very different things. A solution to combat this problem would be to provide further activities that enforce the concept of learning to use words in context. Hangman is great when used alongside a game of matching words with their definitions, or with pictures, for example. 

8. Not so much speaking involved in this game. 

Except for when students call out letters and try to guess the secret word when there are enough clues available, there isn’t much effective speaking involved. Some students may call out letters when it’s not their turn. 

These examples are just a few of the problems that educators are facing. In these instances, it would be best for educators to control how students should play a game of Hangman. Perhaps along with guessing a letter, educators should require students to identify another word starting with their choice of letter and ask them to use that word in a sentence. 

9. People see words as isolated vocabulary and are unable to use them in context.  

Some people may learn new words and still be unable to use or identify them in context. A solution to combat this problem would be to provide themes and provide examples of how we can use words correctly in sentences. In this way, we will not see the terms we learn as isolated vocabulary. 

10. When learning, if educators do not use Hangman in conjunction with other games, it becomes boring. 

Group of bored pupils in a classroom, during lesson
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Some might say that getting bored is unacceptable. Playing Hangman can become boring if it’s all you ever do. Doing the same thing over and over is boring. We become bored quickly when a game provides no new element. 

Hangman can become boring shortly if we don’t change it up or use it alongside other games. Having a mix of games to choose from, like crosswords, word searches, and other fun word games, is a great way to keep us entertained. 

11. Children can choke themselves to death by playing hanging games. 

A child may innocently be playing with rope and, as a joke, put it around another child’s neck. Where would a child get this idea? People believe that violent images stimulate violent behavior in children. 

While the Hangman stick figure is a basic drawing, many think that another non-violent figure should replace it. Adult supervision should always be present when children play games, and no child should be left isolated. 

In short

Now you know why Hangman might be inappropriate and offensive. Reflect on what you have learned and decide for yourself! It would be in your best interest to be considerate and mindful of others around you when initiating a game of Hangman, just in case!

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who enjoy sharing their knowledge about their favorite games with others!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.