Games Based on Banned Books

Every year the American Library Association hosts National Banned Books Week in the first week of October. The goal of this event is to bring awareness to the kinds of attempts made throughout the nation to impinge on our Freedom to Read. As more libraries incorporate Game Collections and Library of Things Collections, it’s reasonable to expect that these items will make the banned list eventually, too. Program and event challenges make up a large percentage of censorship requests as is.

If you’d like to celebrate Banned Books Week with a game or two, here are ten options for games inspired by materials that were banned or challenged in 2022-2023!

 A Game of Thrones: The Board Game

Based on the Song of Ice and Fire book series by George R.R. Martin, banned in 2023 in Pennsylvania.

“King Robert Baratheon is dead, and the lands of Westeros brace for battle. In the second edition of A Game of Thrones: The Board Game, three to six players take on the roles of the great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, as they vie for control of the Iron Throne. Based on the best-selling A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones is an epic board game in which it will take more than military might to win. Through strategic planning, masterful diplomacy, and clever card play, spread your influence over Westeros!”

Batman: Gotham City Chronicles

Batman: The White Knight, Batman: The Killing Joke, and Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again were all banned in Missouri in 2022.

In Batman: Gotham City Chronicles, one villain faces off against a team of heroes in one of multiple scenarios. Each hero has their own character, and they control this character by spending energy to perform actions (such as Melee and Ranged attacks, defusing bombs…) recovering more or less energy at the beginning of their turn depending on their stance. If the hero gets damaged, energy moves to a wound area, and if they lose all of their energy, then they’re out of action for a while to recover their strength. Each hero has differing strengths for their abilities, and these strengths are represented by colored dice with different values; the more energy a hero spends on an ability, the more dice of that color they can roll.”

Embers of Memory: A Throne of Glass Game

Based on the Throne of Glass book series by Sarah J. Maas, which was challenged in Oregon in 2023.

“Embers of Memory: A Throne of Glass Game is a two-player co-operative card game set during the events of Kingdom of Ash, the epic climax to Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series. Working together, you must delve into the memories of the young queen and help her face her inner demons before she is overwhelmed. Be warned — each challenge you face is more complex than the last, testing the bond between you and your partner to its limit.”

IT: Evil Below

Based on It, by Stephen King, banned in 2023 in Virginia

“IT: Evil Below is a co-operative dice and card game that challenges all members of The Losers’ Club to work together to drive Pennywise back into hibernation. Based on the horror film classic It, take on the roles of The Losers’ Club to stop this looming threat from terrorizing the town of Derry. Defeat him or die trying – it’s up to you.”

Locke & Key: The Game

Based on the Locke & Key comic series by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, which was banned in Missouri in 2022.

“Competition and cooperation meet in Locke & Key: The Game, which dares you to overcome the supernatural challenges of Keyhouse. As you play, you’ll collect wondrous keys to open new game play options and create powerful combinations by mixing and matching cards.

You and your fellow players will face these horrors together, but who will be by your side when the dust settles? On this journey, you’ll make decisions on when and where to help your fellow players, but your resources are not endless. Through careful management of your cards, you can help the family overcome challenges, and you’ll be rewarded for the assistance…sometimes.”

Nemo’s War, Second Edition

Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was banned in Texas in 2023.

“Set in the year 1870, you set sail in this amazing electric-powered submarine, assuming the role and motive of Captain Nemo as you travel across the seas on missions of science, exploration, anti-Imperialism, and War!

With this supercharged second edition of Nemo’s War, prepare yourself for the adventure of a lifetime!”

Red Rising

Red Rising: Sons of Ares an Original Graphic Novel was banned in Missouri in 2022.

Red Rising is a hand-management, combo-building game for 1-6 players (45-60 minute playing time). You start with a hand of 5 cards, and on your turn you will deploy 1 of those cards to a location on the board, activating that card’s deploy benefit. You will then gain the top card from another location (face up) or the deck (face down), gaining that location’s benefit and adding the card to your hand as you enhance your end-game point total. If at any point you’re really happy with your hand, you can instead use your turn to reveal a card from the top of the deck and place it on a location to gain that location’s benefit.”

Scott Pilgrim Miniatures the World!

Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World Volume 5 by Bryan Lee O’Malley was banned in Missouri in 2022.

“Scott Pilgrim Miniatures the World! is a competitive board game where one team takes on the role of Scott and the other good guys to fight against The League of Evil Exes. The action takes place on a pop-up board with large miniatures, custom dice, and 3D constructible objects for smashing and throwing!

In this miniatures combat game, you’ll go head to head either as Scott and his friends or as an Evil Ex. You’ll roll dice and take actions including: moving, using a basic attack (punching or kicking), recovering health, picking up and throwing objects, or using one of a character’s special abilities pulled right from the pages of the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels.”

War of the Ring: Second Edition

The Hobbit, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King were all banned in Texas in 2022. Justice for The Silmarillion.

“In War of the Ring, one player takes control of the Free Peoples (FP), the other player controls Shadow Armies (SA). Initially, the Free People Nations are reluctant to take arms against Sauron, so they must be attacked by Sauron or persuaded by Gandalf or other Companions, before they start to fight properly: this is represented by the Political Track, which shows if a Nation is ready to fight in the War of the Ring or not.”

The Wizard of Oz Adventure Book Game

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire was banned in Florida in 2023.

“In The Wizard of Oz Adventure Book Game, players work together to complete challenges and turn the pages of a unique game board book that allows you to relive the magic of The Wizard of Oz.”

For more information about Banned Books Week, or items that have been banned in the USA in the last several years, visit:

Banned Books Week | October 1 – 7, 2023

Banned Book List: 3,362 Books Banned in 2022-2023 – PEN America

All quoted text is copied from the game publisher’s websites

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