How to play
December 13, 2019 4:24 AM   Subscribe

Games have always been a part of human culture. Alone or in groups we play games to amuse ourselves, pass the time and even meet new people. Game designer Holly Gramazio invites you to turn your mind to play whether you're at work, on a train, in a museum, or even drunk. Each article is packed with ideas for games to play, wherever you are. posted by smcg (15 comments total) 55 users marked this as a favorite
Number 5, How to play in secret, is something I do all the damn time. One of my favorite secret games is to imagine what would happen if a Jurassic Park raptor entered a room? Would I run, would I hide, is that chair near me worth throwing as a distraction? or maybe I should pick up the fire extinguisher near by and use that. It's a lot of fun.

Great post, thanks for sharing with us.
posted by Fizz at 5:30 AM on December 13, 2019 [5 favorites]

I love the "how to play in a museum" post. "Touch Stuff" is both delightful and awful.

On "playing with drunk people:" there are a number of bars where you can play a game we call, "Baby, Bag, Dog." The windows have to be high enough that you can see only the very upper portion of passersby, with a full-glass (or open) door in view. When you see a person walking by who is obviously encumbered by something, you guess: baby, bag, or dog.

It's somehow much harder than it sounds, if the windows are at the right height. I think we invented it here, and you can see how perfect the conditions are, with great visibility in both directions.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:39 AM on December 13, 2019 [6 favorites]

I would actually enjoy playing the "tag yourself, I'm..." game from How To Play In a Museum. I'd call it "IT ME". Or possibly "MOOD".

People better hope I never catch them playing Touch Stuff.
posted by theatro at 6:03 AM on December 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

"designed with the sort of clean geometry that you find if you search IKEA’s website for rugs and then sort by ‘most expensive’."
I am greatly enjoying reading this series, because of the concepts, but I think my actual favorite part is this sentence fragment.
Thank you for sharing this!
posted by Adridne at 6:14 AM on December 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

.... I just lost the game.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 7:36 AM on December 13, 2019 [5 favorites]

These are really thought-provoking, especially the secret games article. Maybe we need a broader category of walking games - I thought of "(Dont't) step on a crack" which isn't a secret game per se, but does require a sidewalk-type-surface and a destination.
posted by muddgirl at 7:52 AM on December 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

We play the cows game. Actually, we learned it from a disreputable former host of Prairie Home Companion, so we play the horse game- same rules except for the animal in question. I would guess that horse is harder than cow.
Anyway, I have a little modification. It does not seem fair to have 75 horses and lose them all by passing a cemetery with only 3 gravestones, so I suggest you cannot lose more [animals] than there are headstones.
posted by MtDewd at 10:39 AM on December 13, 2019

My favorite museum game is trying to make the same face and same pose as someone in a painting or sculpture, and then taking a selfie of myself doing it. It's fun!
posted by Tesseractive at 11:10 AM on December 13, 2019 [2 favorites]

I am definitely going to re-categorize what I think of as my compulsive behaviors as "secret games".
In addition to playing "don't step on a crack" for the past 30 years more or less nonstop, I have a syllable-counting game in which it is good when people say things with a number of syllables divisible by 5 (10 is even better), otherwise I need to try and think of how to re-phrase the same information in a pentasyllabic format.
posted by subocoyne at 3:25 PM on December 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

Ha, I love this stuff. I've definitely played workplace games before; a workplace largely in chat can take them to an entirely new level. Just like my last comment on the site, can't really share all the games, but there are so many successful ones.

Otherwise, I also have a number of mental games I play.

1. Mental exercise in radical empathy: That song on the radio you hate? What if it were your favorite—or your wedding song? How would that be? This exercise has the added bonus of being endlessly amusing. What if my wedding song were Incubus' "Drive"—or 311's "Beautiful Disaster"?

2. That empathy game is a corollary to "We live here now"—when you're stuck somewhere so long that like you imagine living there like pioneers.

3. Here's a one-off mental game from when I moved to New York City the first time, in 2017: Old banana peel or dead bird?

4. A better version of that last game: What if someone dared someone else to eat that? Gross red gummy bear on the subway platform—oh no, what if someone dared a friend to eat that? Meat product melting away in the hot sun on a city sidewalk in its package—oh no, what if someone dared someone to eat that? What would happen?

5. Another one I love: things by consensus. E.g., "How do you play tennis again?" "I think it involves odd counting and something about love?" You can't actually Google it; you just have to do what people did in the olden days and try to figure it out together.
posted by limeonaire at 4:04 PM on December 13, 2019 [2 favorites]

Oh, here are another couple I've played.

6. Treat it like an interview. This works well when you're stuck in a conversation you don't want to be having, with someone you don't like. See how long you can keep it going, asking them interview-style questions about things in their lives. Worst-case scenario, you're able to bide time until you can stop talking to that person. Best-case scenario, you actually discover something to talk about or something amusing.

7. Snowclone word games, kind of like a cousin to "yo momma" or "the dozens," but unexpected, just based off of a unique turn of phrase someone says:
"Huh, that's such an interesting-looking cat"
"You're an interesting-looking cat"

"Oh man, that's such a gross sidewalk"
"You're a gross sidewalk"
posted by limeonaire at 4:19 PM on December 13, 2019

"What If I Could Parkour"
Keep an eye out for climbable structures as you travel through town. Plan a route. What if I shimmied up that lamppost, swung and leapt over to the scaffolding, from there an easy climb up to the roof...
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:33 PM on December 13, 2019

Ooh, what about songs with games?

"Laughing on the bus, playing games with the faces
She said the man in the gabardine suit was a spy
I said, be careful, his bowtie is really a camera"
posted by muddgirl at 8:27 PM on December 13, 2019

These are fun. When my son was younger, we had our own museum game too, which we called "Speed The Met". The deal was, we would go to the Met and look at things for a few rooms, until we came to a painting or sculpture (or furniture, or...) that looked interesting enough to stop at. Then we would set a timer for ten minutes and look at that thing, and talk about that thing, until time was up. We could talk about what it said on the description card, or what we saw in it, or what we overheard other people saying about it. Even make jokes about it. But the rule was, you couldn't change the subject or stay silent for more than 30 seconds or so. When the 10 minutes were up, we'd leave and get ice cream.

He got the world's shortest museum visit, I got my culture-avoidant kid to actually appreciate some damn art with me. Win-win.
posted by Mchelly at 4:42 PM on December 14, 2019 [2 favorites]

Before that (when he was around 3 or so), he had a game (also at the Met) where he would only stop to look at art that included naked butts. And then yell "butt!" (or occasionally "penis!") . Good times.
posted by Mchelly at 4:43 PM on December 14, 2019 [2 favorites]

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