Review: Dr. Ruth’s Game of Good Sex
Publisher: Victory Games
Year: 1985
Tagline: (none, but do you need one?)

This cover is very blue and shows a cute little photo of Dr. Ruth in a circle with a male and female symbol adjoining

how we met

I knew of the existence of Dr. Ruth’s Game of Good Sex. I saw it once at a Half Price Books but left it behind at the listed price. If it is meant to be, it is meant to be, right? And recently I found Dr. Ruth’s Game of Good Sex at thrift.

And this game is shockingly heavy. That only made me want to buy it more.

For $2? Yes, gimme.

how it plays

Dr. Ruth’s Game of Good Sex has three tracks on the board, and the first couple to get their pawn to the “Mutual Pleasure” circle in the middle wins!

Each side of the board has Arousal Tracks, one for female and one for male (it was 1985, so if you don’t fit these molds just pick one or put a sticker over them or something). Each player’s Arousal Markers start at the beginning of their respective Arousal Track, and markers will move up and down the track throughout gameplay. The colors that the markers are on will be significant as well.

An overview of the board which is very colorful
This is the overhead view of the board. Note the Arousal Tracks on each side and how the colors match the tracks of the board

On a couple’s turn, one of them rolls the die and moves their pawn that number of spaces. Many spaces on the board are SITUATION SPACES, and they will say something positive or negative and then indicate adjustments to the Arousal markers on the Arousal Track. For example, a space might say “Go to bed angry” and indicate that both the male and female Arousal markers go down 2 spaces on the Arousal track. Yikes!

Some SITUATION SPACES have dots on them. When they do, that team draws an INTERACTION CARD. If this card says “Play Immediately,” then you do so. If it says “Hold,” then you can play it immediately or at a more opportune time.

Example interaction cards
Best card back ever? She’s pretty cute.

The board also has ASK DR. RUTH spaces. When a couple lands here, they are asked a True / False question by a different team. If correct, the couple gains 3 Arousal Points. If incorrect, they lose 3 Arousal Points! In either case, these points can be split however they choose between both male and female Arousal markers.

IMPORTANT NOTE: generally speaking between the board and the cards, the male markers move more quickly along the Arousal Track than the female markers. In fact, if the male marker goes too far and beyond the last box in the Arousal Track they have had an “accident” and must move back to the box marked “Accident.” Yes, I’m serious.

A close up of the game board, specifically where the Arousal Track says "accident"

Another space on the board is SEX CLINIC. When a pawn lands here, the couple answers a multiple-choice question from one of the cards. These cards include a case history and four choices (not unlike The Dr. Laura Game…well except in the pragmatism of the correct answers). Each member of the couple writes down what they think Dr. Ruth’s answer was, and they are not allowed to consult each other in the process. Then answers are revealed and the couple gets 2 points for each correct answer! One more special thing about SEX CLINIC points too is that they can be used to move markers up or down the Arousal Track. Is that Accident feeling too close? This is your ticket to think about baseball for a moment.

An example sex clinic card
YES! A and C seem problematic, but less problematic than D

Some spaces and cards cause couples to lose turns. When losing a turn couples place their pawn in the appropriate portion of the board showing either 30 minutes or 60 minutes, and each person in the couple counts as one turn. After they are out of this timeout then they move their pawn back to their start space.

The Arousal Track has different colors corresponding to different tracks on the board. Once both Arousal markers in one couple move to the next color, they may move their pawn up to the next track at the next opportunity. These roadways between tracks are represented by little white lines with arrows. If either of the markers falls below that color, you similarly step back to an outer track. Similar to Ratrace, if you have played that.

Play continues this way until one lucky couple experiences “Mutual Pleasure” and wins Dr. Ruth’s Game of Good Sex!

how it went

I was nervous buying this game, and nervous to try and play it with my group. Our game group is close, but not that close, you know. Fortunately, we really got off on the right foot when I made John smell the board and he exclaimed with a sour face, “Oh! It smells like House on the Rock!” (Cool place, check it out if you haven’t.)

But aside from that, Dr. Ruth’s Game of Good Sex did not cause any awkwardness for us. The questions were usually so easy that they were embarrassing, which might go to show how far we as a society have come in being able to learn and talk about these kinds of things. Or goes to show what is on our televisions. Or both.

A terrible shot of the board during our play
This is the only shot of our play that I took that evening

Since the game has so many cards, I am going to share a few with you. The rules ask you to go through all of the ASK DR. RUTH questions on your card before drawing a new one, so we only went through part of four! Out of a bunch. And here they are.

More Q+A including once a man has brought a woman to orgasm can he repeat this anytime he wants
I think my favorite part of the entire game was when John was asking Bill one of these ASK DR. RUTH questions and said, perfectly seriously and straight-faced, “True or false, Bill?”
More true/false including whether all women masturbate the same way
More universal truths here
More true/false including whether modern condoms can be used several times
It’s been almost 35 years since this game was released, and I’m still going to say #5 is a no go
Example true/false card that asks if discharge from a woman's vagina outside of menstruation indicates infection
I am now keeping Post-It notes of our gameplay to track important details. You’ll be glad to know the Post-It note from this game says, only, “Ladies be discharging 24/7.” So that attempt at responsibility is definitely paying off

I poke fun at some of the cards above, but the fact that I can even do that is a credit to Dr. Ruth’s work. Dr. Ruth’s mission was to educate, and that’s what this game did in its time. Her goal was never to be shocking or scintillating, and neither is this game. If you have ever tried to normalize talking about what has previously been a foreign or taboo topic (in these days pronouns, privilege, and sexual assault immediately come to mind) then it would be difficult not to appreciate a game like this, from 1985. And a pioneer like Dr. Ruth.

We enjoyed this game. Keri and John were ever-so-slightly ahead of Bill and me the entire game, and ultimately they won Dr. Ruth’s Game of Good Sex!

play or pass

Play. As I mention before, Dr. Ruth’s Game of Good Sex is a credit to her work. Whether you want to play it or not, I think we should all be grateful that Dr. Ruth and her game exist. And the game was not some slapped together roll and move junk. The game served the purpose of being educational without falling into the traps of being predictable and dull. I admit that I give the game some leeway for its time, but I think that’s true (maybe less obvious) of all the vintage games I review.