When I prepare for a presentation, I generally make a list of games – usually at least twice as many games as I could possibly need. This is after 50 years of teaching games and fun and funny stuff. No matter how often I play or how many games I’ve learned, I’ve found that there are times when I simply go blank. It’s not because of the pressure. It’s because there are so many other things I have to focus on. Especially the people I’m playing with. I have to be free to listen to them, to engage them, to respond to each of them, to enjoy them. So I can get just lost enough in a particular game or interaction that I can’t think about what to play next.
It’s a list, not a plan. I can’t pre-determine which game to play when.I need a wide enough selection of games so that I can respond to the always changing mood of the players. Maybe they’re tired. Maybe they’ve been sitting still for too long. Maybe, given a discussion we just had, they’re feeling more contemplative than active.
Sometimes, it’s a list of very short games. Sometimes a list of games you could play with hundreds of people. The following is a list of collaborative word games I prepared for a 90-minute session with a small group of religious narrative therapists who are not allowed to touch or sing with the opposite sex, in a space that was only large enough for them all to sit in a circle. The games in this list are all conversation starters. They each take less than 15 minutes to play, involve fantasy, creativity, personal expression, sensitivity to each other, and reflection.
(Yes, and you can use this list for people who are not therapists, or religious, and still have fun, much of it ostensibly deep).
- The Frog – make a friend for life
- Three-Headed Oracle
- It Could be Worse – or better…
- The Endless Blessings Game – bless each other in and with best wishes
- Kvetch Kakaphony – complaining together (“speech choir” version)
- Dayeinu (it would have been enough)
- Cosmic Counting a.k.a. Zen Countdown
- Colors – an exercise in synchronicity
- Making Waves – choreographed waving
- Darkroom – imagine a picture together
- Redondo – draw a picture together
- Yes/And – story-building
A playful path is the shortest road to happiness.
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