Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Barbie Queen of the Prom on Sale!

Funagain has put their replica copy of Barbie Queen of the Prom (QoP) on sale. This is the reprint of the first edition of the game. It's a beautiful product and lots of fun for the right players.

In QoP the players compete to see who will be, well, queen of the prom. You achieve this by getting a dress, a date, and becoming president of a school club. Players move their tokens around a board and hope for lucky die rolls that will allow them to earn money, go shopping, and otherwise advance their goals. In terms of rules this is a classic "go around a board" game not unlike Monopoly or Life.

This edition of QoP shines in several ways. Firstly, the art design is just spectacular. The outfits, the illustrations, and the colors perfectly capture the era at play. For whatever reason it continues to look appealing forty years later while more recent editions simply look dated (compare Barbie's potential dates from the original and updated 1980's editions).

Secondly this is a game which appeals to the ironic and tongue in cheek player. It's all very amusing to see retro outfits, prices, and social mores. Your hip cousins will find the game to be so cool.

Thirdly, the game is fun because it touches on a very real desire. Many of us would love to be queen or king of something. I held the prom in disdain (although I also had no chance of a date so some of that scorn may have been protective) but if there had been a Dungeons and Dragons Prom? To be the most popular boy with a 5th level Paladin? I would have given all my possessions to be king of that prom.

Clearly QoP is a dated game with many dated concepts. It is not multiracial, it does not acknowledge single parent families, same sex parents, or two working parents. Many of us (myself included) feel that society has benefited from progress in these areas. I don't believe that in playing QoP you are espousing a restrictive view of gender roles, family, and race but another person could reasonably feel otherwise and certainly this game is not for them.

Further, the game may be seen to suggest that a teen wishes only to be popular, successful, and well dressed. We would hope this was not the case and in a perfect world we and our teens would be mainly interested in the well being of our fellow human beings. I do not believe the two are completely mutually exclusive, happily. I believe that many teens and adults do wish to be popular, successful, and well dressed. I also believe that all of us have the potential to go further in our moral development. In that process, however, it may be fun to play a game where we struggle to find the cutest date and the best outfit.

Pros: simple, fun, beautiful art, retro-ironic

Cons: socially dated with some risk of offending

Beyond the Basics: this is a basic novelty game, but may turn your child into a graphic designer. If they start mentioning Eames and Haywood-Wakefield next you'll know for sure.

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