Folk Game – Rhode Island

“The name of this game is called Ghost.  You need more than two people, but preferably less than seven or eight.  To begin someone starts by saying a letter.  Then usually it goes clockwise to the next person who says a letter and the next person who says another letter and so forth.  The whole time each letter everyone says is basically spelling out a word.   The object of the game is to get someone else to say a letter that will spell a word without actually spelling a word yourself.  Also it is only considered to be a word if there are at least three letters that have already been said.  If someone says a letter that ends up spelling a word they get a G.  Each time a person ends another word they get another letter to spell out GHOST.  Once a person has ended a word five times they will have G-H-O-S-T and are officially out of the game.  The game continues until there is only one person left as champion.”

Chris told me that he learned this game about 5 years ago at a wrestling camp in Rhode Island.  He said between practicing they would always play this game to keep busy.  He said most often it was just the wrestlers that played and not usually the coaches unless they were young enough to want to join in.  Apparently, after Chris learned the game he brought it back to Connecticut and shared it with his other teammates at his school and got everyone to play on his high school team as well.  Chris said that not only is it just played between players of sports teams, but that he also plays on road trips in cars and at home with friends to pass the time.

I believe that this game is popular because it is something that everybody can do, as long as the players can all speak the same language.  There are many other games in which a person can “accumulate letters” that eventually lead to their exile from a game.  Another example would be Horse in basketball in which people trade basketball shots and if a person misses a shot that the other one makes, they get a letter.  I think games such as these unleash a person’s inner competitive drive to win and ultimately are the reason that people want to play them again and again.