The 50-year old board game, “What Shall I Be? The Exciting Game of Career Girls”, had 8- to 13-year-olds excitedly collecting school, subject, and personality cards towards different professions, according to Sally Edelstein, who wrote about it in her blog Envisioning the American Dream.
The options, however, were not as exciting as the title may lead you to believe: teacher, ballerina, nurse, model, actress, airline hostess … full stop.
The aim of the game was to be the first player to obtain a career, by collecting school, subject, and personality cards that counted towards a specific profession. Only one of the participants would ever reach that hallowed objective!
The school cards were predictably mundane: nursing school, drama school, college, ballet school, airline training school, charm school (to become a model).
However, the 16 subject cards were even more disheartening, and strikingly un-academic. They carried messages such as “Your make-up is too sloppy”, which was bad if you wanted to be an airline hostess or model, or “Correct Posture”, which was a happy thing for those who wanted any of the professions (except teachers – who could slouch all they want).
The personality cards, of which there were also 16, had barely distinguishable messages, “You get too excited” (so you can’t be an airline hostess or nurse), or “You are overweight” – obviously no good for models, airline hostesses, or ballerinas.
“Along with ‘Miss Popularity’ and ‘Mystery Date’, ‘What Shall I Be?’ formed the holy grail of board games designed to prepare a young girl with the essential skills needed for the exciting game of life of which she apparently hadn’t a clue,” Edelstein wrote. But the boys’ version doesn’t seem to have been much more helpful, especially for any young men who, horror of all horrors, didn’t want to be a doctor or a pilot.
You can read more about this game, and the boys’ version, on Edelstein’s blog.