Game – University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California

“The Hat Game”

Ryan is a recent graduate from the University of Southern California. He received a bachelor’s degree in Print Journalism and Political Science. He is a fourth generation English-German-American and grew up in the small town of Somis, a farming community near the larger city of Camarillo, California.

Ryan learned this game at the University of Southern California during a Campus Crusade spring retreat. A friend of his by the name of Andy Hubert taught him the game, though Ryan says that he has come into contact with many people across the state of California who play this game or a variant of it.

Ryan told me that before the game begins each participant is to write on a small sheet of a paper, a word or short phrase. There are no specific limits on the length or content of the phrase, but players are encouraged to avoid phrases that would be completely impossible to guess. At this point in the game, everyone’s written phrase or word is placed into a hat or some other receptacle and mixed together. The players are divided evenly into two teams. Each player on the team should be sitting next to someone from the opposite team. Players are to be arranged in a circle, sitting side by side with opponents. At this point in the game, someone is arbitrarily picked to begin the game. During the first of three rounds in the game, each individual in order of the circle will have one minute in which they are to take a phrase from the hat or other receptacle and during the first round they are to attempt to get their teammates to guess exactly what is written on the piece of paper by using verbal clues, though the actual word or phrase itself cannot be mentioned. If they are successful with the first paper, they try to do as many papers as possible in a one-minute time frame. When the minute is up, they are to return the un-guessed paper into the receptacle without saying what was on the paper. When the minute is over the person keeps the papers, which he was able to convince his teammates to guess the phrasing on. The receptacle or hat is now passed onto the left or right depending on the predetermined direction. This person does the same with his teammates until all the papers are gone regardless of whether everyone in the circle has had an opportunity to play or not. At the end of the round, the team counts the number of correctly guessed papers and records this score. Round two begins then with the person after the last person from the previous round. All of the papers, regardless of whether they were guessed in the previous round or not, are then returned to the hat. Round two is the same idea as round one except that players have to this time, act out the phrase to get their team to guess. This is done without talking. Round three then proceeds, however in this round, the player only gets to say one word with hopes of clueing his teammates in on the word written on the card. The score for rounds two and three is calculated in the same way as round way and is therefore based on the number of correctly guessed papers. The team with the most points at the end wins.

“The Hat Game” as described by Ryan Webb appears to be lore in the form of a game that is passed on between a particular folk group. The folk group is known to at least expand beyond the USC community, as Ryan tells me that he has played with people from other surrounding universities. In addition, I personally, am aware of people who play a variant of this game who reside on the Eastern Coast of the United States of America. As the game is not known to have been created by a specific individual, the rights to this game can only be said to be equally shared by all of its players.