Monday, May 25, 2015

These Are a Few of My Favorite Games

For today's blog we're looking at page, where one of my readers suggested this for a blog topic:

A list and introduction of all your favorite games to play! You can include board games, card games, video games, improv games, speaking games, mind games... anything you can think of!

This was asked before I wrote my blog about the tabletop games we own, which pretty much covers the board games I like, so let me fill it in with some of these other categories!

Card Deck Trick Magic Macro 10-19-09 1 from Flickr via Wylio
© 2009 Steven Depolo, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio
Favorite Card Game: Mao

You've gotta get the right group to play this one, but when you have, oh, gosh, it's fantastic. I can't really give you an introduction though, because the entire premise is that you learn the rules as you go. Nobody's supposed to explain them to you, you just pick them up as you go along. Most of the base rules aren't too difficult and people who play card games can pick them up pretty fast, but after every round, whoever has won gets to come up with a new rule of their own and penalize people for not following it.

This means it can be tricky to play Mao with people who already know it, because there are quite a few variations, and since you're not allowed to discuss the rules, you can end up with two groups playing two separate rule sets. This can get confusing and frustrating. Plus there are a lot of people who just hate playing this game because you have to figure it out as you go. So, like I said, you have to have the right group... but once you do, the fact that it's so different every time makes it awesome to replay over and over again.

Favorite Video Game: The Sims (any version)

I am a huge Sims fan, and have been ever since the first one. My favorite incarnations are probably 2 (yay Ultimate Collection!) and 4, but they all have their perks. Whether I'm making copies of me and my friends or making a superpowered one who is determined to get to level 10 in as many skills as possible before they die, I have so much fun playing around with them and seeing the crazy things they do.

Favorite Video Game For Smashing Things: Left 4 Dead/Left 4 Dead 2

Video Game Journalist from Flickr via Wylio
© 2010 Shane K, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio
I don't play a lot of "real" video games, but I've discovered that when I do, I don't like puzzles, story, or wandering. I just like to smash things. I don't even like shooting that much, so any game that lets me go melee on a crapton of zombies is AWESOME in my book. This was one of the first video games I ever played with Jacob (maybe the first), and I don't think any of the other ones I've tried have had such a good balance of fighting and resting. Last time we played, the first melee weapon I found was the katana, and while I don't consider myself a violent person in general... I have to admit, it is awfully satisfying to swing this thing around in a circle and watch zombies' heads and limbs go flying off.

Favorite Dumb Car Game: Music Prediction Game

I grew up without a lot of gadgets to play with or activities to go to, so my siblings and I entertained ourselves a lot. While most of the dumb games we played wouldn't be interesting at all to anyone else, this one I've successfully played with other people. There's no winning or point to it or anything, it's just more fun than doing nothing on a car trip.

The basic idea is that you set some music running (it can be the radio, though it's more fun if you have an MP3 player with an eclectic selection) and, before every song starts, one person makes a prediction about how the next song is going to reflect someone else's life. For example: "This next song is about the dream job you get in your future." Then, when "Dancing Queen" by ABBA plays, there is laughter and discussion and deep secrets revealed. Or, well, maybe not that. But it's a silly, fun way to spark conversation, and it can be done infinitely as long as there's conversation.

Favorite Improv Game: Just a Minute

Let me start off by saying I really hate improv games. I'm bad at them, and most people are bad at them, and watching people do bad improv is uncomfortable, and being a person doing bag improv is excruciating. But my favorite improv game that I first heard professionals doing and then transported to less professional settings is Just a Minute.

Just a Minute from Flickr via Wylio
© 2010 Steve Bowbrick, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio
This is a BBC radio panel game that has been running for umpteen years, and it's one of the few shows I like to listen to regularly on the radio. The premise is that in a group, one person is assigned a topic, for example, "Santa Claus." They then have to talk about that subject for 60 seconds without hestiation (no long pauses or "um"s and "uh"s), deviation (you have to stick to the subject without rambling about other random things), or repetition (you cannot repeat words you've already used, except for small ones like "the" and "and"). This last one is the trickiest, as once you get going you can't always remember what you've said. If someone else hears you breaking a rule, they can challenge you and take over that topic for whatever's left of your 60 seconds. Whoever's talking at the end wins that round. So if someone talks for 57 seconds and slips up at the very end, you can grab that topic for an easy point since you only have to fill 3 seconds of time.

The game's not only super fun to listen to, it's also a lot of fun to play, and I've used it in teaching settings before, since it challenges people to think on their feet but I've found it can be a little less intimidating for those who hate improvisation.

This is by no means a comprehensive list... but these are a few favorites that haven't gotten to be mentioned elsewhere! What are your favorite games in these categories?

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