Tag Archives: Games

Barbie Queen of The Prom: A Cautionary Tale

The Barbie Queen of The Prom board

I’ve always been a big fan of board games.  Although my taste in board games has become more refined with the likes of Dominion, 7 Wonders, Agricola, Age of Empires III and more, I had to start somewhere. And I started with Barbie Queen of the Prom (BQP).

First, some background. Growing up, I primarily lived with my dad and my brother. I had to sit through countless hours of He-Man, college basketball, pro basketball, G.I. Joe, golf, and occasionally baseball. While I do appreciate all of these things, let’s just say I paid my dues. So every now and again, my dad and brother let me pick out which board game I wanted to play, and I would almost always choose Barbie Queen of the Prom. And I’m just going to write it now so the embarrassment for them is over quickly: my dad or my brother almost always won. They always got to be queen of the prom! *Folds arms, grumpy face*

The dreamboats.

Anyhoo, something funky was going on with BQP.  I had the re-boot version of the 1960’s board game, and apparently the rules weren’t any clearer in the 90’s than they were back in the 60’s (kind of like actual prom – ZING!). The basic premise is this: you start out with some Barbie bucks and with those you accumulate a dress, a hairstyle, a ride to the prom, and a boy to take to the prom (you didn’t have to pay for the boy, thank goodness). Then, when you got to the prom, you spin (sometimes over and over and over) until somebody gets to be prom queen.

But here’s the weird part – when you got to prom, if you landed on a friend tile (a token with one of Barbie’s friends on it), you picked it up. But the rules were extremely vague about what you actually did with this token. Before this point, every token accumulated was used in exchange for something. After some careful speculation, my dad, brother and I could come to no other conclusion but you could trade in one of your friends for an extra spin – that is to say: another chance to become queen of the prom.

What. The. (Youknow.)

All social conditioning from the first part of the game aside, what’s up with this trading in your friends thing?! That’s so not cool, man.

The moral of my story is this: when things aren’t clear, people can’t help but assume. In writing and in life, if you don’t make things clear, things will start to go awry.

Also, if something doesn’t ring true, people will notice.

All games take a bit of imagination and fantasy in order to come alive. Make sure that whatever you develop rings true and leads the audience in exactly the direction you want them to go (even if that direction is misdirection), or they may just start trading in their friends for a chance to be queen of the prom.



Kristin Luna is a Marketing Consultant by day and writer by break of dawn. She prefers to wear t-shirts. Kristin, a descendant of the infamous Dread Pirate Roberts, is currently working on a Young Adult fantasy trilogy. When she isn’t contemplating marketing campaigns or writing, she’s crocheting, playing board games, figuring out yoga, teaching her cats sign language, reading, or getting in cabs saying, “To the library – and step on it!”. She is kidding about only two of those hobbies.


Fable-01[1]A guest post by Jace Sanders.

I rummaged through the selection of video games at a local store, looking for the perfect escape. The week was long and my mind screamed for relaxation. I had recently reread the Lord of the Rings series and decided to diversify my entertainment fixes by replacing a book with a controller.

I’d struck out several times before. Some games had incredible graphics, but little to no plot, while others had a decent story, but the controller commands were too complicated. A young man suggested I try Fable, and my video gaming days have consequently not been the same since.

Fable begins on a beautiful day in the small village of Oakvale in the realm of Albion. The gameplay is infused with ambiance, making the experience that much more enjoyable. The main character is a young man who spends his first day performing tasks to earn money for his sister’s birthday present.

I was immediately drawn in as a participating creator of the story, as I was able to choose my own adventure in the various scenarios I came across. Without even realizing it, I was actually being taught the dynamics of the game.

Tragedy then strikes and the young man is whisked away onto an adventure of revenge and discovery as he trains to become a famous and powerful hero.

Rather than simply telling a story, Fable empowers me to help in its development. Many games have interfaces where you can design the character’s looks, but Fable was one of the first to tie a character’s features to choices made throughout the game.

The main character, known as Hero (or by other titles you can earn through reputation, like Chicken Chaser), grows from a young boy to an old man. Depending on small choices made throughout the game, the character’s appearance develops. If Hero eats pies and red meat, he will grow fat. If he travels at night rather than sleep, his skin will turn pale. His body scars if he fights without proper protection, though townsfolk wager money for the hero to increase the difficulty of a task by doing it in his underwear or without weapons.

Hero becomes a stronger swordfighter, or archer or mage, as he practices that particular skill. He can level up in an array of categories like strength, speed, and stealth.

Hero can also make moral choices. He can choose to protect someone, or perhaps steal from them. There’s no restriction in killing the innocent and then purchasing their homes and shops at the estate sale. But as the game suggests, “Every choice a consequence.”

My first time playing Fable, I naturally wanted to be a good person, and I made proper choices to ensure that I was seen as a standup hero, complete with a halo and butterflies that followed me wherever I traveled. But my second time through, the temptation proved too great to deny myself the evils of Albion. I gave into greed and gluttony, becoming a revered obese landowner with demonic red eyes and devilish horns sprouting from my head. Townsfolk fled into their homes and secured the doors as I passed by. Children screamed as I approached and commented on my horrific deeds.

The first time I played, I strived to focus on the main objective of avenging my family. Others in Albion asked me to assist them in menial tasks that I mostly ignored. My second time through, I pursued all the tangent stories and sub-adventures. I was able to grow stronger and richer. Some of that money I used to court the love of my life, or loves of my life—at one point, I had a wife in every town. Once I tried to marry two women in the same town, but I think they knew each other because the first divorced me.

I’ve spent hours exploring the corners of Albion. I found a fistfight club that met in the middle of the night. I discovered buried treasure. I went fishing, kicked chickens, dressed like an assassin, grew a beard, and got a tattoo, all while trying to avenge my family.

I returned to the video game store the day Fable 2 hit the shelves. While in line, I learned that the game was only available on Xbox 360, a console I didn’t yet own. It took a little explaining to my (real) wife that I deserved an advance on my birthday present, but that night I played Fable 2 till dawn. I don’t regret it, but honestly the second Fable was a let down. The graphics are better, but the storyline is almost the same. Rather than continue on from where the first left off, the story seems to repeat itself several years later than the first.

I didn’t purchase Fable 3; instead I borrowed it from a friend. I found it was more of the same with an extra dose of boring.

What makes Fable so powerful is its compelling story, which in some ways I help write as I build the character, along with his strengths and weaknesses. While the subsequent games have similar functions as the first in development through choices, they fail to tell a good story.

Guest Writer Bio: Jace Sanders lives in Arizona with his wife and five children. In addition to writing, he enjoys music, photography, and anything outdoors. He holds a Masters in Business Administration from Utah State University and works for a biotech company.

The Story in the Game

Gaming Dice When I was a child, I considered myself lucky enough to own an original 8bit Nintendo Entertainment System. Even back then, I gravitated toward the role playing games, and deeply enjoyed the Zelda, Dragon Warrior, and Final Fantasy series. Even those games, in their primitive brilliance, were able to tell great stories.

As more advanced systems arrived, the ability to tell an amazing story improved. I was able to curse the evil brilliance of the Zelda Water Level. I was lost in the harmonic masterpiece of the Final Fantasy 6 Opera Scene. I cried as Aerith died in Final Fantasy 7. I lived many different adventures, and died many glorious deaths. My name is still immortalized in an old online MUD (text-based multiplayer game) as a warrior who helped destroy an old god and bring about a new birth to the world. All these things showed me what worked and what failed when it came to telling a fulfilling and interesting story.

That being said, being able to write a novel and working to bend the fates that are a dice roll away from destroying you may seem like completely different mediums, but they both require a lot of imagination, creativity, and a little bit of luck to succeed. And, in my case, my adventures in a game has inspired more than a few stories. There are even quite a few novels out there that the authors claim came completely from a game played with their friends.

I’ve asked my fellow Fictorians how a good game has influenced their writing. We’ll jump from Halo to Barbie Queen to paper and dice role playing systems. Some will be a story similar to my own, others may be a cautionary tale. Sit back and enjoy the Fictorians talk about Gaming.