More games of dubious purpose

This collection was requested by variously compulsive participants in my variously impulsive retreats.



Based on the observation that the tune for the Alphabet song, for Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and for Baa Baa Black Sheep is the same... Players sit in a circle. The first player starts singing any one of the three songs. When the player stops, the next player must continue the same tune with different lyrics. So, if the first player sings "ABCDEFGH" the next player continues "sir, yes sir, three bags" and the next "star. Up above the sky so..." etc.


Cranked Clay

One player is the clay. The other, the Cranker. The Cranker places an imaginary crank on any part of the Clay's body that can move. The Clay then moves accordingly (if it's not the desired direction, the Cranker merely reverses the Crank).


Elephant, Giraffe, Toaster

Stand in a circle. Have one or maybe two people go into the center. These people can go around and point to actually anyone, and, in a more or less intimidating manner, ask that person, and the people adjacent, to perform any of the following figures:

Elephant: middle person puts both hands on nose, hands fisted and touching each other in trunklike manner. Players on either side place one hand each on the ear of the middle person.

Giraffe: middle person puts both arms straight up. Players on either side put hands on the middle person's waist. See, it's a giraffe.

Toaster: people on either side of the middle person join hands, surrounding the middle player. Middle player jumps up and down, toastishly.

The Intimidators try to catch people off guard. Off-guarded ones become the new Intimidator.

Encourage the creation of new configurations to prevent proficiency.


Inner eyeMovie

Imagine you are using a movie editor. You can see a bunch of clips. If you wanted to add a new clip, all you'd do is pick any one of the clips you see on the right and drag it down into the row of clips you see on the bottom.

The selection of clips keeps on changing, depending on what you happen to be thinking of at the time. So, for example, if you find yourself thinking about aardvarks, you'd see a bunch of aardvark clips.

The clips on the bottom don't change, of course, unless you change them. Upon closer inspection, you discover that you don't even have to drag things around. You can think clips into place.

Editing has already started. Someone said something about a kid playing golf with junk, and you almost immediately found yourself looking at a bunch of clips showing kids, golf and junk in various activities and combinations.

You pick the one you like best, drag it into its position on the clip strip, and pass the imaginary movie editor to the next player, who does the same, e.g., selecting the next clip from the library of clips suggested by yours, and adding it to the clip strip on the bottom.

Consider adding a sound editor.

Consider adding a smell editor.

From time to time, take turns playing your loop, as it were.

Yes, of course, if everyone clearly wants to, you can move stuff around as well as in and out of the play strip. But you do need everyone to see it the same way, so to speak.

Continue until the movie is finished.

Play movie.


HaHa Stories

Assume the Ha-Ha position as illustrated above. Tell a story adding one sentence, phrase or word at a time.

Hand Land

Lie on your backs, with your heads together, ear-to-ear, like spokes in a wheel. If there are more than eight of you, this can be problematic. So make two groups or more even.

Put your hands up. Not the weirdness of all those hands in the air, apparently without owners.

Let your hands get to know each other. Engage in profound dialogue.


It Could be Worse

In a circle or in pairs. Starting player says something innocuous, like "I almost overslept." Next player says something like "It could've been worse. You could've been late." Then the next, or other, says something worse, like, "It could've been even worse than that. You could've been dead." And then the next or other tries to find something worse than that.

Or, the next person says "it could be better..."

And so it goes.


Manner of the Adverb

Two people go out (It could be one person, but when two people go out, it's more fun for them. No one is on the spot.) In the meanwhile, everyone else is deciding on a "fun" adverb - one they could all act out, and have fun with. Slowly is a good one. Nervously even better.

When ready, the guessers are invited back in. They instruct any individual or group of individuals to do things in the manner of the adverb (hence, the name of the game). For example: John, comb your hair in the manner of the adverb. Or, Tara, dance with Tim in the manner of the adverb. Or even, Frank, brush your teeth in the opposite manner of the adverb.

I like to let people make as many guesses as they want. I even encourage the guessees, when things look bad for the guessers, to offer their own clues.



Kinda like Twister.

One, maybe three people get in the middle. Everyone else is in pairs (maybe triplets). The middle person/people say something like "elbow to knee." The other players, in their pairs or triplets, all put their elbows on each other's knees. Or vice versa. So, if there are two players, player A has his elbow on player B's knee, and player B has her elbow on player A's.

On and on it goes: foot to shoulder, ear to belly, nose to toe, until players are significantly contorted. At which time the center person/people say "People to people" and everyone must find a new partner or two.

Often, people just want to be IT and hang around until everyone else is partnered up. Be cool with it.

Todd Strong told me of another variation, called "Common Ground" Instead of body parts, name anything that you think people might have in common: "the same kind of shoes" "the same color hair" "born in the same State"... Everybody races to find partners with that commonality. And a new round, with hopefully a new IT, commences in like manner.

Phantasy Photoshop

Like Polaroid, this is an image-building game. Unlike Polaroid, there is no need or reason to make create a "realistic" image. Photoshop is a computer program that allows people to build images by combining other images.

You could, for example, give a baby wings, or make it look like it's lying on a flower. You can give an elephant a human face and or a parakeet's beak or a kitten's body, and make it look like it's riding a chicken. You could even, for yet one more exmple, have Mickey Mouse, with a rifle on each shoulder, in a leather jacket, standing in a field, with ostriches, made out of hamburgers.

Well, you get the idea. Players, one at a time, create a composite, still image, as wacky as they can collectively imagine it to be.

And when you try it with a bunch of friends or kids, you never really know what you're going to wind up with. And it's fun. And it tweaks the fantasy. Hence, Phantasy Photoshop.


This is like one of those story-building games, only it's all about buidling an image. Nothing changes or moves. I like to play it with my eyes closed because it's easier to build the image. It's called "Polaroid" because the image develops, like a polaroid picture.

One player starts with anything, like, "a penny." Someone else adds a detail the he or she actually imagines when picturing a penny - a 1978 penny. The next player adds yet another detail. "on a red checkered table cloth." Again, the direction here is not to tell a story, not to try to be cute, but simply to say what you're seeing.

When we played it at Esalen in November, 02, the group added sounds and smells. Better than polaroid.


Singing Syllables

Two groups. One decides on a famous quotation or book or song or play or movie title, like "All's Well that Ends Well." (OK, I admit this is advanced. It could also be "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean."). They break the quote up into syllables, and assign each player a syllable. Then, they sing a song, all singing their syllables at the same time, while the other group tries to guess the quote.


Slapsie (three-or-more-person)

Players stand facing each other in a circle. Each player has one hand palm up, and the other palm down. Palm-up hands are placed on top of the adjacent palm-down hands. This may take some time to figure out. Do the best you can. Palm-down hands try to hit palm-up hands before the palm-up hands are pulled away. If the palm-up hand misses, it becomes a palm-down hand. Attempting to follow these rules leads to a certain amount of mayhem. Which, of course, is the whole point.


Sound and Fury

Stand in a circle. One player starts. That player makes a sound accompanied by a motion, like doing a pirouette while saying "whoop-de-dam-doo." Everyone else, together and simultaneously, repeats. Then the next person does a new sound and motion. Until everyone has gotten to lead, maybe once, maybe three times. There's no purpose. It's just fun to see what happens when everyone is as silly as you are.


This is my Nose

Players stand in pairs or triplets. One player starts by pointing to her, for example, elbow, and saying "this is my nose." The next player points to his nose and says "this is my elbow" and then points, for further example, to his head and says "this is my foot." The next then points to her foot and says "this is my head," and then points, perhaps, to her knee and says "this is my eyebrow." And on and again on.



Twiddle each other's thumbs. Can be done in pairs or a circle.