Contextual Data: I asked a friend of mine if there was any particular drinking game that she enjoyed playing, and she mentioned this game “Kings” or “King’s Cup.” I’d heard of the game once before, and I asked her if she could explain to me how it was played and why she enjoyed it so much. The following is an exact transcript of her response.
“Um, okay, so… Kings is like a great game to play with like a whole bunch of people, because, well, you’re drinking, you’re all sitting in a circle, maybe you don’t really know everyone. So first you get a deck of cards, and you—everyone has cups, and of course, various alcohols, so whatever everyone is drinking, um… Maybe different pops or whatever or, like, mixed drinks. So you put one cup in the center of the deck of cards that you lay out in a circle in, like, kind of a fan around the center cup. And… Basically everyone just goes around and picks up a card when it’s their turn. So… I guess like… There’s rules, basically, that correspond with each card. I guess I can go over the rules.
“So when you get an Ace, um… I, I mean all the rules involve drinking. So every time you pick a card, something on that card is going to tell you an instruction on what you have to drink, how you have to drink it, um, who’s going to get stuck drinking, basically. And the point of the King’s cup is that as you go on, people are pouring, like, different things like their drink into that specific cup. And, um… it gets grosser and grosser, and at the end, the person who loses is gonna have to chug that disgusting, like, gross cup. Um, so…
“When you pull the cards—So you get an Ace. And if someone gets an Ace, um…it’s called ‘Waterfall,’ so the person who gets the card can, um, start drinking—whatever time they want—they start to drink whatever drink they have in their cup, and they can stop at any time, and—Oh! Everyone’s drinking at the same time. So everyone, um, in the circle of friends or whoever, starts drinking at the same time that person does, and then they can stop whenever they want, the next person can stop whenever they want, and that means the person next to them gets to stop whenever they want. So, basically, everyone’s getting screwed. Like, everyone’s getting plastered. Um, the second rule—a Two means You, so when it gets to Two, you have to drink. Three means Me, um, so—Oh wait. No. Two means You, so when you pick a Two you can designate someone that has to—so you like point to a person that you…has to take a drink. Three means Me, so when you pick that, um, you yourself have to drink. Four… Drinking games are sexist so Four means Whores, and all the women, um, in the group have to drink. That annoys me [Laughs]. As a side note. Um…Five means Jive. It’s like a really fun one. Um…Every—The person who picks it has to do a dance move, and the next person—in the circle—has to add on to it. And everyone’s probably drunk, so you have to keep building on to those dance moves, and if someone messes up, like the sequence, they have to drink. Um…It’s always fun to watch drunk people try and dance. And…Six means Dicks. More sexism. The men have to drink. Um…Yeah [Laughs]. That’s problematic. Then Seven is Heaven. Um…Everyone—the person who gets the card reaches up and puts both hands up to…touch the sky [Mimes putting both hands straight up in the air]. And the last person to notice and put their hands up has to drink. So if you’re not paying attention or, like, you’re just drunk or like, ‘What’s Seven mean?’ you get screwed and you have to drink. Um…Eight means Mate. So this is where you can pick someone and for the rest of the game when you have to drink—so when you are the last one to do the Seven Heaven thing or something that person has to drink too. And that’s a really good way to… Whatever. Either get back at someone or flirt with someone or whatever. Um, lets see. That was Eight—Eight means Mate. Nine is Rhyme. So…Someone—The person who draws the Nine thinks of a word and then everyone else after them has to, um, think of a rhyme to that word. And if they…The last person to either repeat the—something that someone’s already said or not be able to think of one has to drink. Um, Ten is Catagories. It’s like a similar idea, I guess. Um, so you pick a category, like ‘types of cereal’ or like… I don’t—Anything, really. It…In a party situation people usually pick something like…More vulgar. So ‘types of sexual positions’ or something and just like…Yeah. Interesting ways of getting people talking. And the last person—like the same thing with the rhyme—the last person to either mess up, not be able to think of one, or something else that someone’s already said has to drink. And then Eleven…Oh. No. There’s no Eleven in cards [Laughs]. Jack. Um, people play it differently, I guess. Like, there’s different rules, but when I play it, it just means, like, Jack means Back. I think other people play, like, Jack means, like, ‘Never Have I Ever’ or something. But that’s like a little aggressive to me…I don’t know. Um, Jack to Back is easier. So the person to the…Um, right of where you’re sitting when you pick the Jack has to drink. And… Queen is Question Master. So when the person draws the Queen, um, they kind of, like, don’t tell anyone. They might just say, like, ‘Oh, I got the Queen. I’m Question Master.’ But maybe no one notices and so that person, um, whenever they ask questions from that point—‘till someone else draws a Queen—they’re the Question Master, and if you answer—if someone playing answers the question that they’re asking, um, you have to drink. So, you can really mess with people because you just ask them, like, ‘Hey, is there anymore, like, in that cup or anything?’ If they’re like, ‘Oh, yeah! I can see some—Aww, you made me drink, like [Laughs], fuck you.’ Um [Laughs]. And…The King is like the whole point of the game—the King’s Cup. So when you get a King, you get to pick a rule for the game, like—same thing with the Queen, until someone else gets the King. And, um…The… So you might make a rule, like, ‘No swearing.’ And everyone’s drunk, so that’s pretty hard. [Laughs.] So if you do swear you have to drink. And then—or any kind of rule, basically. There’s like a few common ones, like…Again, like to mess with people, like…Whatever. There’s like…Yeah. Um, and then for the last King, whoever draws the last King, um—we kind of keep track—has to drink the King’s Cup and the game’s over…And they’re clearly messed [Laughs].”
– End Transcript –
When I asked my friend why she thought people played this particular game, she mentioned that it’s somewhat different from other drinking games, like Beer Pong or Flip Cup, because it doesn’t require any sort of “athletic” skill, it’s a game that could be played with large groups of people, and it’s a game that moves fairly quickly. She also mentioned that it’s a good game to get people talking and socializing. She said that she first learned to play it in college, and that it is particularly fun to play with people who have never played before, because when you first learn, it’s difficult to keep track of the rules, and so the “newbies” end up getting drunk very quickly. In that sense, it also seems to be a kind of initiation ritual in the drinking culture that’s often so prominent in the college social setting.
Her answer was fairly thorough and seemed to provide an insightful reason as to way the game is passed on — in particular that it is about getting drunk quickly (which is usually the reason people play these games) and that it does seem like a very good game to play to get people to start speaking and socializing with one another, which is certainly part of its appeal.
Interestingly enough, the game was made into an app for the Android, for those that don’t have a deck of cards handy. Different versions of the app do offer different sets of rules, which underscores that there are many variations to the game. It’s also interesting to note that the app exists under the name “Waterfall Drinking Game” and that an alternative name is “Ring of Fire,” which both emphasize that it is ultimately a game about getting drunk, which again, is why people usually play such games.