M: So we use the.. the poker card, and like you use like, possibly two or three packet or pack of the.. the poker card and you make a ring like, here’s one cup [gestures to a cup on the table] and then you make the poker card a circle and this in the center [gestures again to the cup] and everyone like, uh, in order to take a card. So, uh, every- every number has different meaning, and possibly like, so for the- for the ‘A’- for- for the ‘1’, number 1, you can point at [name] and let him to have a shot or drink a shot.
Q: So it was a whole deck of cards?
M: Yeah like, several. Several. And like when you- when you make a ‘K’, then you can pour, like, pour some possibly the shot or possibly the orange juice or milk or something like, just liquid
Q: Oh into the center cup
M: Yeah, the center cup. So for the first, second, and third ‘K’, you just pour it. The fourth one, you drink it. Yeah, and every number has different rules. Like, like for the number 2, like you will be the.. whore and if there’s someone like, he has to take the drink, then he can order you to drink with him together.
Q: So if you pull the number, then you do the action.
M: Yeah, like when you take the num- take the card, you will follow the number. You follow the rule according to the number.
Q: Was there a name for the game?
M: It’s called like, bitch card [laughs]
I collected this piece while hanging out with friends and we began talking about the games we knew from our childhood and school-age years. The conversation progressed to games we know now, particularly drinking games, such as the one the informant described above. The informant is a student of the University of Southern California and actually learned this game from her peers at the university last semester.
Games establish our identities in certain ways, including our group identities are revealed by the games we know and our individual identities are revealed by the games we choose to play and how we choose to engage in them. Drinking games, like the bitch card game collected above, albeit riskier than children’s games, for example, are no exception to this. Furthermore, they are no exception to the wide variety in types of games, like card games or dice games. Most popular among college students and young adults, often times drinking games are initiated to foster the interactions of a group and facilitate the formation of group identity – even if that group is specific to a particular time and place and may be temporary – because they get people to start drinking and letting loose. On the flip side, drinking games can also alienate those who choose not to participate, but this is common amongst all games and not just restricted to drinking games. Even worse is the risk of personal vulnerability that can result from a drinking game gone overboard.
All of the analysis that can be applied to games can be extended to drinking games. Since the bitch card game is purely based on luck of the draw, there is no learning or knowledge curve that would place an individual at a significant disadvantage. The game allows for variation as well in the card assignments; a bit of internet searching revealed several different versions of the game where the card action assignments were different from the few that were described by the informant. What appears to be a constant, though, is the rule regarding drawing Kings and the King’s cup, most likely because the center cup is the focal point of the game. Though drinking games can be interpreted in many of the same ways as other games, the significant point to consider is the addition of alcohol because it adds on a much greater sense of risk. There is a physical risk and maybe even a social risk like when bad drinking stories go viral, and these things can significantly affect how and why people choose to interact with drinking games.