Monday, February 27, 2012

Games To Play On The Way

By Julian

Modern technology has made gaming on the go ridiculously easy these days.  Whether it’s your Nintendo DS, a Playstation Portable, a smart phone, an iPad, or even a laptop, there are a whole host of video games to play away from home.   If you are looking to play with the human next to you, there are some video games that can accommodate that as well as a host of traditional options such as travel versions of board games and decks of cards.  However, as I have been walking my daughter Sabine to school everyday, I have discovered that sometimes it’s best to have a game to play that needs no components at all.  These are essentially conversation games.  They need nothing besides a couple of humans willing to talk to each other.  They can occupy an entire trip with gameplay or help instigate a good discussion to pass the time.  Games like 20 questions, I-Spy, and even Slug-bug  are classic examples of these types of games.  Here are few less known ones that you can use to liven up your trip:

Here We Go!
This is an incredibly simple game that my 6 year old daughter enjoys.  It starts with one player saying a word (any word they want).  The next player has to think of a word that starts with the same letter that the first word ended with.   It can be a fun way to practice vocabulary and letter sounds with a young child.  For older players, you can spice this game up considerably by simply choosing a category.  For slightly older kids limit it to a broad category like animals.  For teens and adults limit it to a subject of interest like board games names or action movie titles.

This game comes from the play/movie Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.  The game is simple in concept, but quite amusing and challenging to play.  One player starts by asking a question.  The next player follows by replying with a question of their own.  Thus the game continues with each player trying to reply to each question with a question.  The first player to stall or say something that is not a question loses the round.  Rosencrantz and Guildenstern enumerate a few other rules as they play their game such as no rhetoric and no non-sequiturs.  You can watch the scene on youtube and see how they score it like a tennis match.  This game is probably a little too challenging for younger kids (I tried it with my daughter today and she struggled to think of more than one or two questions.) However, for older kids and adults it can be an amusing way to try to hold a conversation.

Another one that’s simple and fun.  My daughter and I play using animals as the subject.  One person names a small animal and the next player names an animal they think could beat that animal up.  The game is best if you try to ramp up slowly.  Jump straight to tiger or elephant and the game can end quickly.  However, getting to bigger animals just means that the players have to get creative.  I thought I could stump Sabine by stating that one big creature could be beat up by a virus and without missing a beat she said that the virus could get beat up by a doctor.  If you are strongly opposed to even silly notions of violence in a game, you can turn this game into more of a science lesson by naming a creature and seeing if your kid can guess what kind of animal eats it.  To age the game up a bit, you can just pick a slightly more relevant category. Comic book geeks, for example, have been playing this game for years using super heroes.  To start that game off, I suggest using Aquaman as the starting point.


This game comes from a scene in one of my favorite childhood movies, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  One player starts at A and thinks up a silly insult for the other player.  The next player replies with an insult that starts with B and you continue to work through the entire alphabet.  Again the insults should be pretty silly.  You might start out with Ape-face, move on to Balone Head, and then follow up with Carrot Nose!  The scene from TMNT shows some pretty silly examples.  For parents who find the notion of playing a game of insults appalling, let me just say that giving your kid a chance to tease you in a game can be fun and cathartic.  Just make sure the insults stay silly and not genuine.  For those who REALLY can’t stand the idea of an insult game, you can go through the alphabet on a host of other categories.  For added challenge, you could even try to hold a conversation with each player using  a sentence that starts with the next letter.


For my last game, I thought I would share my Sabine’s favorite.  This game is not challenging and is entirely silly.  If you like to take yourself terribly seriously, you should not play this game.  This comes directly from the book Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury and is best suited for when you are walking somewhere.  The game starts with one player beginning as the book does:

“We’re going on a bear hunt,
Gonna catch a big one,
What a beautiful day,
We’re not scared!”

My daughter and I actually trade off with each one saying the next line.  Then one player says “Oh No!” and then picks something up ahead to be the big barrier that must be crossed.  This is most fun if you pick something that’s really there and just pretend like it’s scarier than it really is.  For example, pretending that cracks in the sidewalk are vast chasms or that your neighbor’s tree is a scary forest.  Then the chant continues:

“We can’t go over it,
We can’t go under it,
Oh no! We have to go through it.”

All the players make fun sound effects or appropriate motions as they make their way through the hazard.  Then the next player starts up the chant again, states another hazard and the game continues.   Though silly, this game can be a lot of fun.  According to my daughter, it makes the entire walk feel like an adventure.

There We Went!
I’m sure there are a million more of these conversation games out there.  What are your family’s favorite game on the go?

1 comment: