What If Jumanji Were Real?
VOICE OVER: Noah Baum
WRITTEN BY: Nick Spake
What if Jumanji was real? The “Jumanji” franchise has been defining childhoods and entertaining audiences of all ages for nearly four decades with its humor, adventure, and creativity. What if the jungle really was just a roll of the dice or a click of a button away, though? As far as we know, every person who's played Jumanji has kept its existence a secret. But in an era where everyone shares everything on social media, could Jumanji stay under wraps forever? Chances are someone who played Jumanji would share their experiences online. Join WatchMojo as we break down what would happen if Jumanji was real. What's your favorite moment from the "Jumanji" franchise? What do you think would happen if Jumanji was real?
What If Jumanji Were Real
The “Jumanji” franchise has been defining childhoods and entertaining audiences of all ages for nearly four decades with its humor, adventure, and creativity. What if the jungle really was just a roll of the dice or a click of a button away, though? Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be discussing what it’d be like if Jumanji were real.
If you grew up in the 80s, you’ve might’ve read Chris Van Allsburg’s picture book “Jumanji.” And if you grew up in the 90s, you definitely saw the hit film adaptation starring the late Robin Williams and maybe even watched the animated series. In 2017, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” revived the franchise, and was followed up by “The Next Level”.
While “Welcome to the Jungle” put a new spin on things for the digital age, each incarnation essentially follows the same formula. Our heroes stumble across Jumanji, a mystical, jungle-themed game. In its classic form as a board game, Jumanji brings the jungle to our world. When it manifests as a video game, Jumanji transports players to a virtual jungle, giving each of them avatars. Either way, the players must complete the game in order to return everything to normal. The movies traditionally end with our main characters winning and disposing of Jumanji. One way or another, however, Jumanji always finds someone new to play with.
While little is known about the game’s origins, according to the first movie it’s been around since at least 1869. As far as we know, every person who’s played Jumanji has kept its existence a secret. But in an era where everyone shares everything on social media, could Jumanji stay under wraps forever? Chances are someone who played Jumanji would share their experiences online. We could totally see Jumanji becoming the next Polybius - a mysterious arcade game that supposedly surfaced in 1981, and was said to be a government-run psychology experiment. Coincidentally, that’s the same year “Jumanji” was published. Just as Polybius remains an urban legend, it might be hard to prove that Jumanji actually exists.
Sure, it’d be hard for people to miss rhinos stampeding through houses, monkeys car-jacking police vehicles, and a trigger-happy hunter walking around with an unlicensed firearm. As long as the players complete the game and survive, though, everything reverts back to normal with no evidence. No one would remember what happened unless they were among the original players. It wouldn’t be much easier to prove that Jumanji exists in its video game form either. It’s not like you can record gameplay and upload it to YouTube. Jumanji also apparently can’t be duplicated, making it one of a kind. The only way to prove the game’s existence is by playing it with somebody. Still, rumors would no doubt fly, and once word spread about a game that brought the jungle to life, we’re sure that some people would seek it out.
Whether you’re a thrill-seeking explorer, or a fan of role-playing games, Jumanji provides the ultimate adventure. Considering how much some people pay for an actual African safari, we imagine they’d cough up even bigger bucks for a trip to Jumanji. So whoever finally tracked it down could make a fortune. While they were at it, they could expand their business by finding Zathura, the space-themed board game set in the same universe. Alas, renting out Jumanji wouldn’t be without trials. The video game version seems much easier to manage than the board game version, as it transports players into Jumanji rather than unleashing the dangers of the jungle into our world. Then again, the board game can also trap players inside.
Although Jumanji resets if the game is completed, there’d be no guarantee that every player would make it out in one piece. As such, count on insurance being a nightmare. Players would have to sign their lives away, agreeing not to sue if they’re turned into a monkey, blown up by cake, or lost in the jungle for 26 years. Even if people knew the risks and were still willing to pay to play, Jumanji is perhaps too powerful and unpredictable for one person to be responsible for. So, it might be a better idea to sell Jumanji to a billion-dollar corporation with a crack team of lawyers, the resources to keep the game under control, and cash to burn?
Disney already has “The Jungle Cruise” and the Rock in their corner, so we’re sure they’d love to bring a Jumanji attraction to Adventureland. Jumanji would also fit in well with Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Whoever the highest bidder is, we expect people would line up to play a game that turns them into a smoldering archaeologist or a dance fighting commando. With a company like Disney or Universal running the show, Jumanji would go from an urban legend to a mainstream phenomenon like “Jurassic World.” If the “Jurassic” movies have taught us anything, however, it’s that something is always bound to go wrong ...
While Jumanji will undo any damage once beaten, players have gotten stuck in the game, causing it to last for decades. By stalling the game this way, you could potentially erase years from existence. This can ultimately work to the advantage of some people, such as Peter and Judy, who got their parents back after Alan was rescued, returned to 1969, and changed history. But what about the countless other people who could be affected? Saving a lost player’s life could cause a far-reaching chain reaction, and it might not be for the best in the long-run. Anyone who plays Jumanji can’t afford to be in there for an extended period of time.
There’s also the psychological turmoil that may come with playing the game. While the movies kind of touch upon this, Alan Parrish still feels pretty well-rounded for a guy who’s been stuck in Jumanji for most of his life, and it doesn’t take long for Sarah to get over her years of trauma. Alan and Sarah get second shots at childhood in the end, but we think that anyone who’s been through such an ordeal would be living with PTSD. Heck, nearly getting eaten by crocodiles would be enough to scar most of us for life!
In order to make sure nobody gets lost, emotionally tormented, or trampled over, it’d probably be smart to send an experienced travel guide with every group. If the travel guide beats Jumanji enough times, they’d be able to crack every secret and memorize every obstacle, guaranteeing everybody gets out alive. Since Jumanji works in mysterious ways, though, it may try upping the difficulty or presenting a new challenge if one player becomes too familiar with its tricks. After all, this could be seen as a form of cheating! Jumanji seems less like a game and more like a wild animal that can adapt to its environment.
With so many uncertain factors, disposing of Jumanji would likely be the smartest move if it were real. Even if you threw the game into an incinerator, however, we’re not entirely convinced that Jumanji could ever be stopped for good. However you got rid of the game, we’d suggest attaching a note for anyone who might find it in the future. The description provided on the game is fairly vague and people might want to know what’s really in store for them if they dare to play.