Review: The Rainbow Gayme
Publisher: People Like Us
Tagline: The Most Fun You’ll Have With Your Clothes On!
HOW WE MET
I did a little something kind of silly earlier this year, something I do not recommend. In my infinite wisdom, I decided to review the list of board games on Board Game Geek by year. I got through 3.5 years so far (1988, 1989, 1992 and half of 1993 I think). I judged the games by their names and covers, opened those that looked interesting and added several to my wish list. One of those was the Rainbow Gayme.
I find very obscure games at thrift sometimes, but I think smaller independent vintage games rarely make it far from their origins. I actually hunted down a cheap copy of The Rainbow Gayme on eBay to fulfill my wishlist item.
It has sat on my shelf for awhile, but we finally broke it out this past Thanksgiving in a fun gaming evening where we played four vintage games in addition to another chapter in Betrayal Legacy (which is awesome).
HOW IT PLAYS
The Rainbow Gayme is a roll and move game where your goal is to land by exact count on the end of the rainbow. Then you win! The starting space is even a closet.
During the game, players must successfully complete the category of the space they are on. Once successful the player may roll a 10 sided die and move that many spaces. If you are unlucky enough to roll 0 then you must move backwards two spaces and lose your turn.
The spaces on the board are colored differently indicating different categories that must be completed within the 2 minute timer:
- Orange – She Said : He Said: In this category another player will read you a quote and two people that may have said it. You choose which you think said the quote.
- Purple – A Matter of Choice: This is a multiple choice question about gay culture.
- Blue – Group Grope: This category is kind of party game-ish where another player will read the card to you out loud, you write down how you would answer it and then each other player also guesses how they think the player would answer. If players match your answer, they may move ahead one space. If one or more players matched your answer then you may roll to continue moving.
- Red – Picture This: This category is a Pictionary-like drawing challenge where you must draw the term, article or symbol on the card. Similar to above, the person that guesses correctly may move ahead one space and you may roll.
- Yellow – Act Out: This is the charades category where you will be pantomiming terms, titles, and things related to the gay community. The game mercifully comes with a couple of cheat sheets for common charades movements to indicate things like “add an S” or “song title.” This cheat sheet was a huge help to me.
- Rainbow – Player’s Choice: choose your poison from the above categories.
When you near the end of the rainbow and start aiming for that last space on the board, play is normal except that if you roll higher than the number you need, you must move backward that amount. Yep.
The first player to the end of the rainbow by exact count is the winner!
HOW IT WENT
(Note: we played so that players roll and move at the beginning of their turns, which caused our play to go a bit more quickly than normal play would)
I am not sure how well I understood what this game would be like when I tracked it down. I was honestly a little disappointed when I got it in the mail and saw that it is a combination of trivia, drawing and charades, kind of like a gay-themed Cranium. But I actually had a lot more fun playing it than I thought I would. The Rainbow Gayme borrows heavily from well-established and competent games, so while its approach might come off as a little clumsy the gameplay itself is approachable and fine. We had fun.
I didn’t feel like our play was overly short or overly long, so I am happy we changed the rules to regular roll and move so none of us got stuck in categories that we struggled with, like trivia. I was rolling very well, so I was really trucking around the board. Bill managed to move one space out of the closet and then roll a 0, placing him firmly back in the closet at the beginning of play and causing him to pretend to flip the table. He generally rolled poorly and was in the back for most of the game, but the requirement of rolling by exact count to end the game meant that we all kind of stacked up at the end there.
The board has many illustrations, as you have seen by now. But what is harder to notice from photos is that the four sides of the board each state one of these themes: oppression, freedom, challenge and unity. The illustrations represent these themes. Let’s take a closer look at some of them.
One of the common criticisms of The Rainbow Gayme that you are likely to encounter, fairly, is that it is dated. Oh is it dated. I would be curious how many people in the gay community know much of the trivia or terms or movies or books or references, particularly from a 2018 perspective.
For some reason a lot of us were landing on the same categories multiple times. I had to pantomime several times, and as mentioned earlier that cheat sheet was a lifesaver for me. I had to get my fellow players to guess the play As Is. That was difficult but I managed it with all the little shorthand. And I did look up the play later to learn more about it.
I enjoyed teasing Keri when she was trying to draw out the term “sex club.” She was clearly drawing sex but I kept guessing things like being intimate, making love, coupling, knowing biblically. Super fun. A game within a game.
We did find one factual error in the cards related to the period Amelia Earhart was alive. Not a huge deal, but it contributed to the player missing that question so we had to re-do their play.
The goal of the Rainbow Gayme is to teach people about the gay community in a fun and light-hearted way. I guess it accomplishes this, but also feels very narrow and focused. It’s a niche game. You would be able to learn about contributions from the gay community, which is nice. But it also feels like minutiae because it is so dry at times and seems to focus on a very specific time period. And the takeaway is trivia.
Generally the focused trivia board games (typically related to a TV show more often than a topic) are enjoyed by those that already have an appreciation and knowledge of the subject matter. Their goal is not to teach but just to test your knowledge. If the goal of The Rainbow Gayme is to teach, I think it could have been approached differently. Like even just giving the cards more context that can be read, so I not only know As Is is a 1985 play by William Hoffman but also the subject matter instead of trying to remember it to look it up later.
In the end I managed to roll the magic number I needed to get to the end and I won the Rainbow Gayme!
PLAY OR PASS
Pass. The game has a noble goal, and it probably fulfilled that goal to a certain extent for a certain time period to a very specific audience after it was released. But it just doesn’t stand the test of time for a casual gamer.