Fifteen: the game

by Bernie DeKoven on January 11, 2013

The result of forgettingFifteen is a game of memory and silliness.

Players get into a circle, count, one at a time, to fifteen (depending on how any people are playing, you may have to go around the circle more than once before someone reaches the target number – if you have exactly 15 players, change the target number). When someone reaches fifteen, that player gets to pick any other number and decide on an action or word to replace that number. When it’s your turn, and it happens that the number you are about to say has been redefined, you have to remember what you’re supposed to do or say instead. If you don’t, you have to do something even sillier.

The player who begins the game starts the count with “one” and, continuing in sequence, each player says the next number in the sequence (aloud, of course) until the number fifteen is reached. The player calling the number fifteen gets to make a rule. She selects a number (how about “twelve?”) and says something like “from now on, the number twelve is called ‘french fried garlic,’” or, “instead of saying ‘twelve,’ say ‘touch me, I am infectious,’ or assigns an action as a substitute ‘if it’s your turn to say 12, scratch your head.”

The count continues with the next player who says, obvously “one,” and continues until the someone reaches fifteen. So, let’s say the player who is fifteen this round has decided that instead of the number seven that player must say “Where’s the schnitzel Freddie?” If the seventh player doesn’t say “Where’s the schnitzel Freddie?” she has, shall we say, “erred,” and must accept whatever silly consequences have been agreed upon (you have to keep your finger on your nose, you have to lie your head on your neighbor’s shoulder, you have to look ashamed, you have to laugh at yourself).

The next player would then continue, saying “eight” (unless “eight” has already been changed to something else. When following a rule, a player cannot say the number a rule was made for. For instance, ” 9, Where’s the toilet paper?” is as grievous an error as forgetting what to do or say, or taking too long to say or do anything. Players, obviously, cannot change the number fifteen.

Ultimately, remembering 14 different number-substitutions is well-nigh impossible – especially for the memory-challenged. If so, try starting with a game of Seven and see how much fun that is. If not, go for Twenty-One.

Get silly, in a loving way, with the number substitutions (“four” means you have to hug someone). If someone misses, instead of making them out, maybe just blow kisses.

Below, people at the Games Change workshop in Israel, playing Fifteen. It’s even funnier when you don’t understand what they’re saying.


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