Review: the Dr. Laura game
Publisher: Hasbro
Year: 1999
Taglines: Morality it matters. I am my kid’s mom. No excuses, just solutions. Character, courage, conscience.

Cover showing pic of Dr. Laura

how we met

This game has been in my collection for over a year now. I found it in my local town thrift shop on my birthday! I know, will my luck never cease? We had a two player game that night, and I recently pulled it out to be enjoyed by our regular four player group.

The back of the box asks, “What would Dr. Laura say? What would you say?” The example question is a pretty good choice, check it out.

Question reads My 13-year old lives with her father. When she comes to visit she wears a spiked collar. I've asked her to stop. She says she just won't visit. Do I stick to my guns?

I mean, what could matter less?

Yes I will pay $1.99 for you, the Dr. Laura game.

how it plays

This is a kind of roll and move game. On their turn, a player rolls the die which has the possibilities of PREACH, TEACH or NAG. Depending on which you roll, you must draw the corresponding card and play it out.

PREACH cards are read by a player other than you. The other player acts as the caller reading the dilemma, and you are giving the advice. All players listen to your advice to the caller before the reader reads Dr. Laura’s advice. Then players will vote on whether your advice was “as good” or “not as good” as Dr. Laura’s advice. If you win the “as good” vote then move your pawn ahead one space. Otherwise you do not move and play passes to the next player.

Sample question where Dr. Laura's advice urges acceptance of a step-child

Okay, every once in awhile Dr. Laura responds with warmth and compassion

TEACH cards are multiple choice. You read the dilemma out loud and all possible choices. Players have chips for A, B and C and secretly choose what they think is Dr. Laura’s answer. If anyone guesses correctly they move ahead one space. If no one guesses correctly then you move ahead one space.

Sample teach card where Dr. Laura urges a mother to confront her daughter for being sexually active and to use any words that come to mind

In case it is difficult to read, Dr. Laura’s answer was B and, yes, she is encouraging the caller to use any words that come to mind

A, B and C voting chips

The voting chips

NAG cards have you read a dilemma out loud to the group. All players are trying to guess what Dr. Laura’s response will be, so they can either make up an answer or agree with a previous answer given. The reader will then read the answer and choose the player whose advice most closely matched Dr. Laura. That player, and anyone that hitched their wagon to that answer, moves ahead one space.

Sample nag card where Dr. Laura urges a husband to try and save his marriage since his kids need both mommy and daddy to be together

ProTip: if you are trying to match Dr. Laura’s advice always opt for a two parent family, no matter how miserable

The first player to reach the FINISH space wins!

how it went

I have a confession to make. My own sense of morality does not align well with that of Dr. Laura. But that’s what makes the game slightly more enjoyable. I am delighted when her advice mentions “holy laws” and her strict belief that a moral compass has its foundation in religion. I am occasionally surprised when she responds with warmth and acceptance, only to be followed by a shunning of diversity and tolerance. And my favorite is when she replies anecdotally, like “this worked for my son” as if that has any bearing on the caller’s situation.

The board for this game is quite small, and I imagine that was a strategic decision to make the game less daunting and more tolerable.

Hand covering just over half of game board

The tiny board, hand for scale

It must have taken ages to make the content for this game. There are so, so many questions. I hunted for quite some time for the spiked collar card so I could report back on Dr. Laura’s answer but alas, I did not find it.

There are a lot of ways you can play this game. You can attempt to match Dr. Laura’s answer, which is the intended purpose and is surprisingly difficult. You can give your own advice earnestly. You can be absurd. We did a little of all these things as the mood struck, which I think is common in trying to make the game work.

Much of Dr. Laura’s advice sounds incredibly judgmental and matter-of-fact. I thought about that for awhile, wondering if that is just part of the role of someone that gives advice. People are giving you deference and you may begin to speak in absolute terms. But that’s rubbish, really. I am a big fan of the advice columnist Carolyn Hax, and even when she is astonished at someone’s attitude she still answers by challenging the perspective of the poster rather than directly applying her own moral judgment. However it could just be a circumstance of removing the conversational aspect of Dr. Laura’s show from the cards. Although having listened to some of her old show in preparation for this post, I would not characterize Dr. Laura as a good listener. Maybe not even a listener.

Die showing preach, teach or nag

All good choices!

Ultimately our game went okay. We had a few laughs, as we always do. I don’t think any of my friends are scrambling to play the game again any time soon. It has potential to be a fun party game with the right crowd, but it has just as much potential to bomb.

play or pass

Oh, pass. The game is a weird novelty and, at least for our group, provides some shock moments that add to the absurdity of this game being considered educational. I thought about following Dr. Laura’s advice and describing my impression of her with any words that come to mind. But this is a the Dr. Laura game review, not a Dr. Laura review. I will say this though: the Dr. Laura game is a game of the past in more ways than its publishing date, and that is something to celebrate.