(The Board) Games People Play: #12, Electronic Dream Phone

Talking Telephone Numbers – without Philip Schofield

Wednesday 05 January 1983

Back to school, more of the same tedium. Thankfully, Tricia boarded my 343 up to Mossley Hollins and all was right with the world. There and back. On our return journey, Tricia asked me if I fancied going to a disco on Thursday night.

My Mum is a bit apprehensive about going to the disco on my own. Then I realised that Tameside Council held a disco night at the George Lawton Hall. On Thursdays. A short walk from my house on Waterton Lane. This meant applying for a membership card and sending a letter to the TAC building. Then again it could be the roller disco behind Tameside Theatre. Or Drifters in Duki – 25 minutes from home on the 343 or 344.

I quite like Tricia. She could be the future Mrs South in my view. Time to swot up on dating tips.

Electronic Dream Phone

Before dating sites like Match.com or PlentyOfFish.com entered the scene, we did things the old fashioned way. Like seeing people in the flesh, or by sending your details off to a computer dating agency. In mass market publications, you would see an advert for Dateline. With the tagline ‘You too can find love’, readers cut out a coupon, post it, and aim to find a significant other.

MB’s Electronic Dream Phone could be a gateway drug to the dating game. Published in 1991, the board game was aimed at teenage girls. It is a mix of Guess Who?, Cluedo, a logic problem puzzle, and Blind Date.

You are given a selection of cards featuring handsome blokes (24 of them) and a notepad. Each male has a cornucopia of interests (like modern-day dating sites have today) and a telephone number. The board is hexagonal with the titular Dream Phone in the centre (in pink; because the game is aimed at teenage girls). You call each bloke on the phone, powered by four AA batteries, and each one gives you a clue. The game can be played by one to six players.

Sometimes, they might not give away any clues. Or say that another male could have the hots for you. Powers of deduction as well as memory are key to winning your dream date. They could be at any one of six places, such as the gymnasium or the cinema. Unless you get a ‘Share a Secret’ or a ‘Speakerphone’ card, everything is sworn to secrecy. The game ends when the lucky winner hears these immortal words:

“You’re right! I really like you!”

The names and clues change with each game which adds some long term interest. In 1999, it was updated as Mystery Date.

S.V., 12 December 2017.

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