games and places


21 Games

This talk was originally given at GDC Microtalks 2015.

This is game number one. To play, make up 21 games. Explain the rules to all of them in five minutes. 

Half Moon 2 , Qmilon

Half Moon 2, Qmilon

Go round a circle of maybe eight people, taking turns to come up with a moral dilemma. Each time, everyone votes on what they'd do. You want a split as close to 50:50 as you can get, and you get penalty points for missing out - like, if you suggest a dilemma that gets a 6:4 vote, you get two penalty points. Fewest penalty points when you stop playing is the winner.

In a carpark, every car is a sleeping monster. If a car sees you, you'll die. Their headlights are eyes.

Pinnacles Night Sky , Joe Parks

Two people look up at the sky at dusk in a big city. One takes the left side, the other takes the right side. First to spot a star gets a point - now divide the starless half of the sky and play again. Keep going till you've spotted five stars between you.

Hand on a Table , Ash Crow

Hand on a Table, Ash Crow

Scatter a deck of cards face-up on the table. On your turn, put one hand on an ace and leave it there. On your next, put your other hand on a two and leave it there. Next turn, move you first hand to a three. First to reach a king wins. If you touch another player on your turn, take your hand back and miss that turn, a bit like Jaime Woo's Gargoyles.

Shadows in Nonsuch Park , Cristian Bortes

Shadows in Nonsuch Park, Cristian Bortes

Spread a load of sports cones all around a small park. Move in turns, one step at a time. You're trying to collect as many cones as you can - but you can only step in shadows. If you step in light, you're out. You can make deals - get someone to stay still so you can step in their shadow, in exchange for a cone, say - but you don't have to keep your promises. Sooner or later, you probably won't.

Play Johann Sebastian Joust but with ice-cream. Only the winner eats.

Load the wikipedia "random article" page four times. These must be the titles of your next four games.

Highway 195 , public domain

Highway 195, public domain

Which brings us to Game number 9, list of highways numbered 195. See if you can remember a hundred and ninety-five distinct streets that you've walked down. You don't need their names, but you need a distinguishing feature and someone you were there with. Make a list, write it down. 

Long-Haired Chihuahua Dog , Toshihiro Gamo

Heaven Sent Brandy is the smallest dog in the world. Imagine a cute picture of a tiny dog - I dunno, a dog in a red teacup. Do an image search. If the first ten rows of results includes one, and ONLY one, version of your imagined picture, you win.

Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss , photographed by Eric Pouhier

Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss, photographed by Eric Pouhier

Play this game with someone you like to kiss. Secretly come up with a weird kiss you'd like them to do - blow a raspberry on your forehead, poke their tongue against yours through their cheek, whatever. Pretend to be asleep until they wake you with this magical kiss - make mumbly approving and disapproving sleep sounds to guide them. It's a bit like 20 Questions.

Mt Ruapehu , lanz

Take three sentences from Lord of the Rings, and three from the worst fanfic you can find. Run them all through an English-to-Swedish translator and back a few times. See if your friends can tell which are which.

Choose a skill you used to have that you're slowly losing. For the next year, you get a point every time you use that skill - as long as you're worse at it than you were last time. If you use the skill too often and accidentally improve, you're out. 


If you're in bed with someone who's sleeping, get a point for each time you manage to make them rotate ninety degrees. You lose if they wake up.

On the bus, or in a cafe, listen to some people sitting behind you, without looking at them. Based on what they're saying and the social dynamics, figure out which one you think is prettiest. Turn around and see if you were right.

If you menstruate, then next time you get your period, go to the shower. Splatter a handful of blood on the tiles. You want some normal blood, and some of the globby bits. 

Now for stage 2 you want to wash the normal blood away, but leave the globby bits. If your shower's on a cord you can use that, otherwise you'll have to wee. Close your eyes, turn the shower on or wee till you think you've finished, and then open your eyes. You win if the globby bits, and ONLY the globby bits, remain.

These next two games are by friends. This is from Linden Vongsathorn and Chris Day. The person who spots a Christmas tree on the street latest in the year wins. Last year Linden won her game in August. 

And this is from Stephen Lavelle. Choose one room in the house. For the next hour, you may only change the direction you're facing when you're in that room.

Close your eyes. Get a page of newspaper, and cut through it four or five times. Choose one of the pieces; copy out every word on that piece that you've cut into but can still read. Piece the words together into a sentence. Which friend does it most remind you of? Text it to them.

Write a story. Get ten pieces of paper and write an ending on each one - some good, some bad. Screw them up so you don't know which is which, and throw them at a target - whichever comes closest to the middle is how the story ends.

Go to a pebble beach and pick up a stone. Hold it in your hand. Warm it up. Look at it really closely, notice every little thing about it. Make yourself care about it.

Now throw it as far along the beach as you can.

Do not try to find your stone. That would be ridiculous. It's impossible. It's just a stone; there are literally millions of them. You win if you care enough about the stone that you feel sad when you lose it for ever.

Holly Gramazio