M and I are a part of an art’s collective that puts on monthly open mic nights for dancers, musicians, writers and the like to perform. One of our good mutual friends, J, likes to end the night with a game he brought from Baltimore. Unfortunately, J was unavailable to be interviewed for this project, but M has played enough times over the past year to know how the game operates. We met earlier in the afternoon to go over the particular rules.
M: Three rounds? Yeah, that’s almost like our token game post open mic or sometimes we even have played it before a night out and we add drinks. That one’s a rarer variation in the house as we really get into the charades portion and one of the housemates, S, injured himself drunk.
L: I’ve played both ways, but I understand how heated this competition can get.
M: It’s essentially charades on crack, but more difficult and fun. There are obviously three rounds of play, but first every player is given an equal amount of blank scraps of paper to write down whatever they want to go into the pot of words. They can be words or a combination of phrases. Afterwards, we break people into relatively even teams. Some nights its guys against girls; others its couples against single people. It just happens to depend on who’s there that night, but you break up into two teams. One person from each team is designated as the timer. Each team is given thirty seconds to go through as many pieces of paper as possible given the parameters of that round. Then it switches to the other team. One person performs/ acts the words at a time and it goes in an order that repeats until the are no more piece of paper left.
Round one starts: you can say any word but the word on the piece of the paper. No actions can be involved. This is probably the easiest one and its similar to the game Taboo or Catchphrase. Round two is charades: no words, only actions. As you get familiar with the words from before the charades for phrases are difficult, but not impossible. Round three is you only say one word. You cannot change the word, you can only repeat it over with different tones. This is funniest one since you have heard all the words twice, it’s curious to see what people say to indicate what the word could possibly be.
L: I remember one time when we played at my easter brunch, D kept writing down the longest phrases.
M: See that’s sometimes annoying, but if you can remember the whole thing those ones aren’t too terrible. Especially if you have the writer on your team.
L: Do you know how J found out about it?
M: He either plays it a lot with his family, or his friend V from Baltimore. It’s funny because we actually adapted a different version for another group of friends of mine. We play that you have to have two words for the pieces of paper–it’s much more uniform, although I miss some of the flair with the longer phrases.