Star Trek: The Next Generation – Interactive VCR Board Game – A Klingon Challenge (1993)

I recently played Star Trek: The Next Generation – Interactive VCR Board Game – A Klingon Challenge (1993)

I have come to the terrible conclusion that this is a good game.

This is not to say that any of this is was intentional. This is just an observation. The author is dead, etc…

The core of the game is just rolling a single die, watching until you land on every named space at the right time randomly. It’s just probability vs “how quickly do the players take their turns?”

This game is teaching children how to be good Starfleet officers.

Lesson Number 1

It’s teaching kids to see through the matrix. To recognize a game for what it is fundamentally.

The Klingon and most of the game mechanics are pure distractions. The game is confusing and fiddly and 99% of anything that happens is arbitrary and ultimately meaningless. You just have to pay enough attention to not make very simple mistakes a handful of times, and otherwise roll the dice as fast as possible. That’s it: just take your turns faster and you will win on sheer probability alone.

Imagine a kid who sees past the theme, realizes the game is terrible, realizes that most of the mechanics are meaningless… “I just win by rolling dice and paying attention. There are no decisions to make. Fuck this game.”

They are now masters of that kind of game. The game that sucks. They can see it coming.

Lesson Number 2

The game’s rules are fiddly and difficult to follow quickly. People get distracted, miss turns, forget who’s turn it is, etc… Even a kid who has The Gnosis won’t be able to win. Their idiot friends are fucking it up and not paying attention.

The kid who’s socially clever will be rewarded by taking initiative. Literally taking initiative: facilitating the game, helping their less clever friends roll quickly. All to facilitate the game end. They realize it’s actually a cooperative game and the victory condition is “you are no longer player this game.”

They understand the mission.

They recognize the core of the game. They ignore the video of a Klingon yelling confusing game state changes, ignore every mechanic that does not directly move them toward winning, and roll the dice as fast as possible." They take command of a chaotic situation.

This game teaches children to be good Starfleet officers, in a very similar manner to how US Marine training instills calm under pressure.

This is also an accurate depiction of what it feels like to play this game, just on a much lower scale.

The scenario of “Starfleet officers have escape from a badly designed random game” literally occurs in Star Trek multiple times. Speedrunning a terrible game to save the day and recognizing the real mission.

Therefore, I am going to say that Star Trek: The Next Generation – Interactive VCR Board Game – A Klingon Challenge (1993) is a good game.

This has been my TED Talk.


Holy shit, I’ve played that game! Completely forgot about it until now.

Thinking back on it, it kind of was escape room, but VHS.

I owned this as a kid and played it a bunch, I think I was old enough that cooperative gaming was not hard so we generally won (mostly me and my sister playing together). I think something that stands with me is the TV show level of polish for the video itself, really aided the immersion.

We played it one night in Classic Cardboard at PAX. We were within a minute or two of winning.


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