Games are our bread and butter at Antidote. Everything we do is founded on the belief that games and playing are not only TERRIBLY fun but a very valuable escape from reality back to the spontaneity and silliness of your youth. When asked what I do people often respond with, ‘you organize and play games for a living?! Is that a real job?’ It is a real job but I think it’s also a relevant job, a job that informs and enriches my social interactions, decisions, general outlook and sense of perspective. Much as people need entertainment, sport, art and literature to escape the stresses of inner city life and allow them to express, stimulate and apply themselves, people also need an opportunity to exercise the intrinsic, mimetic desire to play and free themselves from the social conventions, expectations and inhibitions placed on them by society. Games allow us to concentrate on something other than work deadlines, bills and nagging mothers. Playing games stimulates our imaginations, focuses our concentration, develops our problem solving skills and helps us to form bonds with other people. Play arouses curiosity, which leads to discovery and creativity and an awareness of the value of being open-minded. Playing games is good for you.
The festive and holiday season is often greeted with trepidation by my nearest and dearest as they know it will only be a matter of time before pens, paper, Scrabble and fancy dress will be hauled out from under my bed and ‘the games’ will begin. Christmas, holidays and weekends away provide me with the perfect opportunity to engage those around me in fun activities. Some of them are often inclined to not agree of course.
In my years as a game enthusiast and advocate of group gaming I’ve heard all the excuses. The, ‘I’ve gotta dicky back,’ ‘I’m crap at acting,’ ‘I’m dyslexic,’ I’m dyspraxic.’ ‘I have absolutely no sense of fun.’ But trust me, if there’s a will there’s a way, I WILL make you play games despite your protesting and you WILL enjoy them and consequently have to offer a mumbled apology and agree to play every game I suggest furthermore/kiss my feet and buy me biscuits.
So as a games enthusiast it would only perhaps be right to share some of the gaming knowledge I’ve picked up over the years and tell you some of my favourite games, ones that will have even the surliest of aunts tittering with glee and reintroduce you with your sense of fun. Take heed, dear reader, for you’ll need these when an awkward silence invades a dinner party with the inlaws.
The Cereal Box Game (Perfect for the sporty cousins.)
A cereal box is placed in the middle of the room and players have to pick it up using their teeth with no hands, elbows or knees touching the floor. Every round, a strip is torn off the box meaning the players have to get lower and lower to stay in the game. The winner is the last player standing who hasn’t slipped a disc. Best played on an empty tum, unless you really want to add an element of danger.
Fun for all the family. Someone needs to be chosen to be the leader. Everyone sits in a circle and has a few pieces of paper, something hard like a book or tray to draw on and a pen. The leader must blindfold each player.
When each player is ready and blindfolded the leader must assign a subject or object that they must all draw, for instance; a chubby bloke holding a Bugs Bunny balloon or a Christmas turkey. The players each have a minute to draw the assigned image as well as they possibly can and when the time is up the blindfolds are removed, pictures exhibited and the leader must decide which is the best. (‘The best’ can mean funniest, most awful, most representative of a different subject entirely.)
The game can be played in three rounds with the champion decided after, say, the third round, or if you’re playing with a large group of people you can do one round and then give other players a turn.
Party Sausages (Ideal for the giggling Grandad.)
Divide your group into two teams. Have the two teams sit in front of each other (each on their own side). A person from one team is chosen to start by asking a person from the other team a question. They can ask any question, but the answer must always be the same ‘party sausages’. The person answering must not laugh or smile, and if he does so successfully, his team gets a point. If he laughs or smiles, his team has to ask the other team a question. Everyone plays this until all have had a turn or two. Whichever team ends with the most points is the winning team.
This one’s an absolute diamond and never fails to have a party in fits. As a group you will need to collect binbags, cardboard boxes and any other bits of unused rubbish such as string, sellotape, paper etc before you begin. One or more people are chosen to be the judge(s) and the rest of the group must divide themselves up into small equal groups or pairs with one person being the model. Each group is given a pile of rubbish that they must create a catwalk outfit from in 5 minutes and the model must wear whilst strutting down a marked out catwalk. When each model has gone down the catwalk the judge(s) must decide whose creation is best and may also award other points for absurdity, attitude and teamwork.
Tight Racing (Kids love this.)
Tights Racing is a competition to see who can fit the most items down their tights whilst wearing them. To play this game you’ll need a pile of smallish items that comfortably fit in a pair of tights. Obviously avoid sharp or spikey items such as scissors and hedgehogs if you want your legs to remain intact.
To begin, make a pile of the small items in the middle with players in a circle around them in pairs, with one person in each pair wearing the tights. On the word go, the tightless player races into the middle and picks up one item at a time and takes it back to stuff in their partner’s pair of tights. After two minutes, the whistle is blown and players stop stuffing, and start counting. The winning pair is the one who stuffed the most items in.
Who Am I? (Very mum-friendly.)
The aim of the game is to correctly guess the name of the famous person stuck on your head. Players each write down the name of a famous person/celebrity on a small piece of paper and stick it to the forehead of the person to their left without letting them see. Players take turns in asking questions to determine what famous person they are by using only ‘yes/no’ answerable questions. Every time they receive a ‘yes’ to their question they can ask another and every time they receive a ‘no’ answer to their question, it become the person on their left’s turn and continues on round the circle. The winner is the first person to correctly guess who they are and you can continue the game until everyone has correctly guessed. –