Quit playing games with my heart and just play a game

Photo by Sarah Reid
Photo by Sarah Reid

Ronna Fisher, Editor-in-Chief

   Does anyone remember the scene from The Jungle Book when the four vultures are bantering back and forth the same two lines, “What we gonna do?” “I don’t know. What’d’ya wanna do?” (Watch the scene here.)

   Even though we’re surrounded by opportunities to participate in highly stimulating activities: movies, television, video games, the whole world wide web, and so on and so forth, I frequently find myself asking that one question on repeat, while making no move toward activity. Sometimes, I’m just bored of sitting and watching.

   Fortunately, I love games. Card games. Board games. Slow games. Fast games. Loud games. Quiet games. I’ve collected quite a large repertoire of games over the years. Here’s to the unplugged moments, the waiting moments, the bored moments.

   Here are three great games that require little more than playing cards, paper or pencils:

   Fishbowl: One of my favorites, this game has become a VIG (very important game). All you need is a paper that you can tear up into little slips, writing utensils and a large bowl (hence the name “fishbowl”).

   Participants usually sit in a circle, and two teams are divided by every other person in the circle. Each player gets three slips of paper, writes something down on each, folds it in half and places it in the bowl. Things written on the paper can range from as simple as a color or person in the room to a long scientific term or famous quote from a piece of literature; it is completely up to the creativity of the individual.

   There are three rounds: a catchphrase round, a charades round and a one word round. Each player gets 45 seconds for their team to guess as many slips of paper as possible. The player either describes the word on the paper, acts it out or says one word that relates to what’s on the paper, depending on the round. The player keeps the pieces of paper that his or her team guessed correctly.

   After the 45 seconds, the bowl is passed to the next person. The round keeps going until all of the slips of paper in the bowl are gone. The amount of slips of paper each team has total is the points. The slips of paper are put back in the bowl to be used again on the next round. This game is great with any size of group. For more specific directions or examples, visit this blog.

   Nertz: This fast paced, intense card game is perfect for super competitive people. Basically, this is a group version of solitaire.This game requires each player to have his or her own deck of playing cards. It makes things easier if each deck of cards has a very different back and if the faces of the cards are simple and easy to read (no crazy colors or pictures on the faces).

   More fun with four or more players, the game can also be played with as little as two players. Played right, Nertz will often result in shrieks, yelling and fiercely competitive banter. This is not a game for sore losers. I won’t bore you with the rules and directions for playing, but they are found here.

   Fun fact: The same game with the name “Speeding Demons” was played on Downton Abbey this season.

   Magic Hand: While I tend to be very terrible at Magic Hand, I can’t not play this game. More fun with plenty of room for running, this game is a more exciting version of spoons. The game is played exactly like spoons, except, instead of spoons, your hands are “magic.” When the first person has four of the same cards, their hand automatically becomes magic. That player places their hand anywhere they want (across the room high up on the on the wall, under a table, on the ground right next to where the game is taking place, outside on a tree, etc). Everyone must place his or her hand on the first player’s hand. The last person to reach the group is out. This usually results in the image of a person running for their life, while a mob of shrieking players chases after them. Warning: someone will get hurt. Injuries are inevitable. Trust me, it’s worth it.

   There you have it. Three games to replace the repetitive what-ya-wanna-do dialogue or the weekly Netflix marathon. There’s more where that came from. What are some of your favorite games? Let me know in the comments.

  1. I love games, too! My current favorites are Pandemic (a cooperative game where players work together to save the world from an outbreak of 4 deadly viruses), and Tales of Arabian Nights – a complex game that sends players adventuring through some of the tales Scheherazade told the sultan in her 1001 nights of storytelling. Warning – that one’s pretty pricey (I got mine off Ebay).