Review: Barbie “We Girls Can Do Anything” Game
Publisher: Golden
Year: 1991
Tagline: Travel the Path that Leads to the Career of Your Dreams

The cover showing a close up Barbie up front with three little Barbies on each side


This is another one that Bill picked up at an estate sale. This was a fabulous sale with dozens and dozens of board games that were cheap and in decent shape. This one is a bit on the musty side, but it’s also really, really pink. Sold. 


Barbie “We Girls Can Do Anything” Game is a spin and move game where the object is to be the first player to reach the center of the game board, which means you have reached your career aspirations. 

Overview of game board showing three circles and Barbie's face in the middle
The three circles of Barbie

To begin play, each player chooses a pawn that equates to their career goal, like Pilot, Musician, Doctor, Fashion Designer, Ballerina or Actress. Each player also receives five CAREER DISKs matching their career, which they keep nearby. 

Career disks that show various images but text indicating which career they match
An underwhelming view of some CAREER DISKs

The game board has three career rings, and your goal is to get to the center. Each player spins the spinner and moves in any direction that number of spaces, with the goal of landing on a CAREER SPOTLIGHT SPACE which allows that player to place one of their CAREER DISKs in that space. 

The spinner showing 1-5 numbers
“We Girls Can Do Anything,” from 1-5. JK this is just the spinner

The toll to move from Ring 1 (the outer ring) to Ring 2 is three visible CAREER DISKs on the board. When you have three CAREER DISKs face up and are able to pass a bridge to the next ring then you can go there and collect all of your CAREER DISKs. Sounds easy, right?

But your terrible friends are also chasing their career dreams. And if someone lands on a CAREER SPOTLIGHT SPACE after you, their CAREER DISK goes on top of yours, meaning yours no longer counts towards your toll. You may need to land on the space again to lift yours to the top, or simply chase down less busy areas. 

Image of our play showing fashion designer and actress next to each other on board
One of the few images I took of our play

The toll to get from Ring 2 to Ring 3 is two CAREER DISKs, and you only need one CAREER DISK to get from Ring 3 to the middle, winning spot and realize your career dreams! Then you are the winner! 


It went kind of like this, “Oh this will be a nice light game to play. Ha, look at my outfit! Wait, who the fuck went over my CAREER DISK? GODDAMMIT!” 

The game did have a couple of issues. For one thing, it was not uncommon for us to move the incorrect pawn. So having the blue background, big, blonde hair and goofy outfit was not enough for us to tell our pawns apart from the others. This type of confusion is not something that we typically experience, or I would assign blame to us. There needed to be more to differentiate the pawns. And this is just another reminder to think about how difficult it must be for those with color blindness or low vision to play games. Please keep this top of mind if you design a board game.

Another issue that I think is inherent to the game is the Runaway Leader problem. Once you break away from the pack, it becomes much simpler to move ahead in leaps and bounds. This wasn’t a problem in our particular game, in my opinion, since I was the one ahead and running away. But it is worth mentioning. 

I was pleasantly surprised by the “take that” mechanics in Barbie “We Girls Can Do Anything” Game. The box is just so pink and the pawn bases are just so sparkly, but there is nothing sweet and nice about clawing your way to your dream career. In the game you are stepping on the dreams of your friends to get a step up in the world. 

I would write this off as social commentary and leave it with a cheers to Mattel and the Barbie crew, but for the documentary The Toys That Made Us in the Barbie episode, and the section about how this idea (that “We Girls Can Do Anything”) was trending at the time. And how the one minute commercial even included an Astronaut Barbie whose outfit was not available for purchase. And how the commercial implied Gymnasts, Scientists and Street Dancers and the delivery in the version we played was Pilot, Musician, Doctor, Fashion Designer, Ballerina or Actress. 

courtesy of bmuz on youtube

So at the risk of showing you how crazy we are, there were two copies of the Barbie “We Girls Can Do Anything” Game at the estate sale, and Bill purchased both the 1986 and the 1991 versions. We resell a lot, and prices were good so I am really grateful for the chance to compare them. And it was interesting. Here are some major differences:

  • The branding is very different, and the Barbie images are drawings in 1986 and shifted to images of actual dolls in 1991. This is clear on the cover as well as the pawns and board. Winner: 1991 version. It was a nice touch to include actual dolls and their actual outfits on the pawns and cover
Barbie as a drawing and Barbie as a doll pawns
1986 v 1991 Barbie Doctor
1986 v 1991 Fashion Designer pawns
1986 v 1991 Fashion Designer pawns
  • The careers are different. As mentioned above, 1991 includes Pilot, Musician, Doctor, Fashion Designer, Ballerina or Actress. The 1986 version has pawns with fronts and backs, and includes Dancer, Astronaut, TV Reporter, Doctor, Actress or Fashion Designer. Winner: 1986. In my opinion the 1986 version mostly switches out 1991’s Musician and Pilot with 1986’s Astronaut and TV Reporter, and the latter comes out a tad ahead. All of these things require big dreams, big challenges and a lot of drive, but I felt like Astronaut and TV Reporter broke the mold just a little bit more. And in a little bit different direction
  • The components of the 1986 version are fine. The spinner looks similar, the pawns have already been discussed and the bases are just plain pink. The CAREER DISKS are just boring standard. Winner: 1991 version. The doll images were so much better than drawings, and the bases in the 1991 version were sparkly! 

I was pleasantly surprised by the play of Barbie “We Girls Can Do Anything” Game, so shame on me? Like many of the games we play, this one is a product of its time. And where it had the chance to push the envelope, instead it rode the trends of the time and even maybe backed off them in later versions. So like many of the games we play, this one is an attempt at merchandising more than anything else.

Barbie pilot pawn on the board
I am not above saying how pretty the game is

I think I would be more understanding if all of the game was unashamed marketing. If from the commercial I can buy that gymnast outfit, that dancing outfit, that astronaut outfit, that girls-dancing-together-in-an-attic outfit. I think what bothers me is the attempt to be something other than a marketing machine. I mean it’s possible the leaders of Barbie at this time have moving, anecdotal stories about girls that felt empowered by the dolls, the commercial or this game. That those just didn’t make the edit of what info I found. But it’s also possible that the only statistic they followed is how many Barbies a girl owned on average. Gross. I mean, I understand how marketing and bottom lines work, but then don’t put out this game that purports “We Girls Can Do Anything.” Can I buy that Astronaut outfit in my journey to become an Astronaut? No? Fuck you. Your commercial is failed marketing. 

And while I don’t think my self-confidence should be built by Barbie, by the Barbie commercial or Barbie dolls in general, Barbie is the one telling me “We Girls Can Do Anything.” If you enter that arena, show me the way. Be better. Do more. Make a difference to more than your bottom line. 

The 1986 cover showing a drawn Barbie vs a doll image
This is the 1986 version for comparison, not the 1991 version we played

So that’s it. We played the 1991 version, and I won. I ran away with it. I stepped on the faces of my friends while climbing my career ladder. How else was I going to become a Pilot? 


Pass. The gameplay was better than I had expected, but hopefully my ranting explained why I was left unsatisfied with the Barbie “We Girls Can Do Anything” Game. 

In terms of vintage games from the time, Barbie “We Girls Can Do Anything” Game brings a new, interesting objective and is not your typical roll and move game. However, in terms of what I felt Barbie could have accomplished with a board game in this vein, I was disappointed.