In the conversation here in this blog about the “Mystery Date” game and how it served to enforce rigid gender roles and female passivity, one commenter, cubist, has proposed that we create a feminist version of the game.
I’m intrigued by the idea of re-writing the game. I have now wasted waaaaay too much time thinking about how to create game mechanics for a dating-themed board game that reflect the dating world in a way that I like, a way that reflects my values but that also reflects reality, and that would also be silly and fun to play. So I’m jumping off cubist’s ideas and am going to take a stab.
cubist proposes “mutually satisfying relationship” as the goal of the game, but I think that might be too large. Maybe just “enjoyable date”?
First — you get to pick your date. Maybe you have to pick them out of a limited set — that’s how it works in life, you don’t get to date absolutely anyone you want, and after all your dates get to have preferences too. But you could draw, say, five cards from a large deck, and pick the one of the five that you like best.
Dates are of all genders. I agree with cubist that it might be difficult to depict trans people in a simple graphic designy way without being exploitative or exoticizing. Maybe have some dates who are of indeterminate gender? Or with a gender presentation that doesn’t match the gender of their name? And for the poly crowd, maybe some of the “dates” could be couples.
Dates have multiple interests printed on their cards, from a pool of overlapping interests. Say there are twenty total interests in the game, and each date has three. Some of the dates’ interests should be unexpected and break out of stereotypes: a punk rocker with an interest in folk dancing, a business executive with an interest in Burning Man. And of course, some dates can have the same interest as each other: the punk rocker and the business executive can both be interested in Burning Man.
Each interest has three items you need to collect to engage in it. (Or maybe each interest has four or five items connected with it, but you only need to collect three to win.) They don’t have to be clothing items, although some of them can be. Some of them don’t even have to be physical items. For “atheist conference,” for instance, you could need to collect a Surly Amy necklace, a nerdy T-shirt, and a loss of religious faith. Some of the interests could share items: you could need a nerdy T-shirt for both “atheist conference” and “science museum.”
And maybe there should be some sort of wild cards. If you have the “irrational sexual chemistry” card, for instance, it can stand in for any item… since if you have that, it’s going to make pretty much any activity you do more fun. And maybe there should be an opposite: if you land on the “You two are perfect on paper but you just can’t stand each other” space on the board, you have to ditch your date and replace them.
The first player to collect three items connected to one of their date’s interests is the winner.