Scruples (game)

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The Game of Moral Dilemmas
Designer(s) Henry Makow
Publisher(s) High Game Enterprises
Players 4–12
Setup time 1 minute
Playing time about 1 hour
Random chance Low (card drawing, luck)
Skill(s) required Simple social skills

A Question of Scruples is a card game based on ethical dilemmas. The game was invented by Henry Makow in 1984 and developed by High Game Enterprises.[1]


Players are given five yellow cards with a moral dilemma such as "You accidentally damage a car in a parking lot. Do you leave a note with your name and phone number?" The player also has one red card, with either YES, NO, or DEPENDS written on it. The player must ask the question to the person whom they most think will reply with the answer on the red card. If the answer matches the red card, the player asking the question gets rid of their yellow card and red card, and picks up a new red card. In this way, the game tests how well players know the other players. The game is over when someone gets rid of all five cards.

Release history[edit]

The game was originally designed and marketed by Henry Makow in Canada in 1984, who licensed the game to Maruca Industries–Carl Eisenberg. The game took off in the United States due to marketing program by Maruca that resulted in the game being played twice on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and featured in The Wall Street Journal along with other publications and newspapers. Carl Eisenberg negotiated a deal with Steven Hassenfeld of Hasbro, through licensing agent Douglas Polumbaum, to sell the US rights to Hasbro, which resulted in Hasbro also licensing other rights directly from Henry Makow in 1986.

Maruca initially sold 500,000 copies and, being a small company, could not produce the product fast enough. Hasbro was so excited by the potential of the game that they gave Maruca the ultimatum of licensing to them, or being knocked off and advertised out of business.[citation needed] Maruca licensed the game for a sum of $1,500,000, and Makow was paid $1,000,000 plus a royalty.

The game sold to Hasbro, who marketed the game (partly through Parker Brothers) for several years. The game has since sold over seven million copies worldwide and has been translated into five languages.[citation needed] Hasbro later returned the rights to Henry Makow of High Game Enterprises.

Due to the cultural aspect of the moral dilemma questions, Scruples was updated every five years, until the Millennium edition, which is the latest version. It contains 150 questions from four previous versions and 100 new questions.[2]

Other versions[edit]

Popularity of the game led to several computer versions developed by Leisure Genius in 1987. Versions were released for the Commodore 64,[3] ZX Spectrum,[4] and Amstrad CPC.[5]

At one time, pilots for a game show version of the game were taped.[6][7]

In 2016, the original inventor introduced an iOS version for Apple products.

In other media[edit]

The game was featured in a first season episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, "The Game". A version of the game called "Ethical Dilemma" appeared in an episode of Married...With Children.[8]


  1. ^ Rockingham, Graham (September 25, 1985). "Game Gauges Players' Scruples By Putting Them To The Test". Orlando Sentinel. United Press International. p. E.3. Retrieved November 17, 2010. Scruples was born last summer when Henry Makow sold his house for $35,000, using the money to produce an initial 5,000 copies of Scruples for Canadian distribution. 
  2. ^ Scruples game website
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ A Question of Scruples @ The Game Show Pilot Light
  7. ^ Scruples Sizzle
  8. ^

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