Never Have I Ever Game

The informant is a 19 year old Filipino female. She lives with her mother in Toledo, Ohio and has one older sister. She was raised Roman Catholic. She is currently a student at a university in Southern California. The informant is the co-president of the club volleyball team at her university.

“Never Have I Ever” is a game the informant learned freshman year in high school. In her experience it is most commonly associated with alcohol, although it is not necessary. Its main purpose is to a “get to know you” game. Although she first learned it in the context of parties, now she most often plays it with her volleyball team, mostly at the beginning of the season to get to know new team members. It lets people get to know each other by making public what the players have and haven’t done. Most commonly, the game revolves around sexual exploits, dating, drinking, etc. When alcohol is incorporated, players can either drink if they have or haven’t done something. The informant has played it with both rules. Similarly, at different times she has played it the winner has been designated by the person who keeps up the most fingers or who puts them all down first.

Rules: Each player puts up all of their ten fingers. Going around in a circle, each player names an action that they have never done, phrasing it “never have I ever …….” If anyone playing has committed the action they have to place one finger down. The players continue around until all of the player except one have had to put down all of their fingers.

Analysis: “Never Have I Ever” is an interesting example of the negotiation of culturally excepted female behavior. In modern society, female promiscuity and such behavior is highly stigmatized. Bragging, or even blatant sharing, of social or sexual exploits is still somewhat frowned upon. This game provides an outlet for females to share their experiences without having to explicitly state them; they only have to reveal if another player brings it up. It is also a way in which female players can gauge how experienced there in comparison to others. But at the same time the game itself does not completely de-stigmatize such actions. There is ambiguity to whether it is more acceptable to be the one with the most fingers up or the most down. There is no clear designation as to which state is dubbed the winner or loser.

Annotation: Shepard, Sara. Never Have I Ever. New York: HarperTeen, 2011.