If only there was a place where I could review almost every game ever made…oh wait, there is! BoardGameGeek is an incredible index of all types of games with a plethora of categories and game mechanics through which to filter your search.
I selected all in the party and word game genres and sifted through about 900 hits looking for those similar to the gameplay of my project.
What I discovered through this and various Google searches is that while there are many games that overlap with mine, I couldn’t find exact replicas.
The most similar ones are:
The Tonight Show’s Word Sneak, in which players are take turns hiding random words into the conversation without disrupting the natural flow. I see this as an entertaining improv comedy sketch. While challenging, it’s not competitive.
Imagine, a storytelling game published by Piatnik in 1996. Players win “points either by hiding randomly drawn words in your own story well enough or by finding those words in your opponents stories.” I was unable learn more about this game outside of the BoardGameGeek site.
Fabrication: The game that’s full of it! ““You have up to 60 seconds, in a continuing story, to tell an outrageously tall tale. You must "work in" the Fabrication Line selected from your game card and try to stump your opponents for points. When time is up, the opposing players may now score by guessing correctly: WHAT was the Fabrication line in your fabricated story. Some lines are real ZINGERS! Stump your opponents to earn DOUBLE POINTS with the ZINGER line. The player with the most points is the winner, a great fabricator and knows Fabrication when they hear it!”
Party & Co: Girls, is a series of games for children ages 8+ from 2003. One of the games is called Dear Diary in which players try to hide three words into a diary entry.
In Story, “players alternate telling a themed story, weaving into the tale objects from the five illustrated Story cards face up on the table. When hearing an object named, the first among the other players to place their hand on the correct card claims it, replaces it with a new card from the draw pile and becomes the new storyteller. Storytellers are encouraged to be deceptive, for instance saying "fog" when there is a "frog" card on the table. If a player falls for the bluff, the storyteller earns a card. The player with the most cards in their collected stack when the deck runs out is the winner.
The Chameleon is "a bluffing deduction game for everyone.” There’s a secret word at play that everyone knows except the chameleon, who is trying to figure out the secret word without revealing their identity. However, if you’re not the chameleon, then you’re trying to figure out who it is without revealing the secret word. At the end of a round, there’s a group vote on the identity of the chameleon. If caught, the chameleon has a chance to guess the secret word. Key ideas: Can you be polite and civilized when doubt everyone? How do you blend in and fool others? How you determine who is telling the truth or not? (Related game: The CopyCat)
Here’s a breakdown of other related games:
Conversation Starters & Ice-Breakers
There are plenty of these lists, often in the form of a deck of cards, to get folks talking, whether they are friends or new acquaintances. The focus is on sharing and not on competing against one another. Examples include CHIT CHAT CARDS, CHIT CHAT Card Game, TableTopics, and The Metagame: A card game for sharing opinions on almost everything.
Storytelling & Roleplaying
Games such as Funemployed, Snake Oil, and But Wait, There’s More! ask players, depending on their personas, to whip up persuasive pitches using specific prompts, words, or phrases. The more convincing the better. These ring notes similar to Apples to Apples, Cards Against Humanity, Quiplash, and JabberJot.
The king of this category is Balderdash, which is actually a reimplementation of the parlor game, Dictionary. The general gist is that players dream up fake definitions to obscure words with the goal to bluff their opponents into guessing that their submission is the correct one. Because game ideas cannot by copyrighted, there are dozens and dozens of iterations including: Lex’i-con, Nobody is Perfect, Fictionaire, Fictionary, Ex Libris, Faux•Cabulary, Dictionary Dabble, Bleff, You Said It!, Derivation, Fibbage, Chicanery, Words, Word of Mouth, Party & Co: Ingenios, Codswallop!. Lónegan, Humpuuki, True or Bluff, Abracadabra, and Krazy Words. (I got lazy with the linking, but you can look the rest up at BoardGameGeek.)
Mind Reading & Guessing Games
Guess the secret word or phrase within an allotted amount of time from a teammate’s clues. But your teammate(s) can only say so much or so many ways. This is Taboo, folks, and like Balderdash there are so many variations, that I lost count. But here’s a start: Pyramid, Password, Word Slam, CrossTalk, Barbarossa, Rapiddough, Trapwords, Banned Words, 25 Words or Less, Cranium, Hoopla, Charades, Gesstures, Thingamajig, Word Blur, Alias, Graffiti, Train of Thought, Inklings, Buzzword, Find It, Say It, and Word Mines. (Again, lazy with the linking.)
An Art Project (not really a game)
Gabe directed me to Lauren McCarthy’s Conversacube, a dialogue assistant that prompts actions for nearly any situation to help folks navigate uncomfortable conversation. It’s related to my game in that it aims to propel talk forward through specific prompts (such as Compliment, Agree, Touch, Accept, and Challenge), but my game ask players to deliberately enter into an awkward conversation and maintain poise and confidence to successfully hide theirs words. Interesting to think about how I might play with the order of the words to impose a particular kind of direction to the conversation.
Well actually just one event so far. On Sunday March 3, I attended a Skip the Small Talk with a fellow ITPer. These events provide a framework for engaging in deeper conversations with strangers. From the website:
“We'll give you some structure and ground rules to make sure everyone feels comfortable and safe sharing as much of themselves as possible. We'll strive to provide a space where you can push your comfort zone in talking openly while still feeling in complete control of how much you divulge.”
I attended this event to experience how conversations might be structured for quality interactions. The facilitator opened by stating the ground rules—something along the line of: it’s okay to pass one a question, don’t respond with an “I don’t know,” and it’s okay to take a break..and probably be kind and patient. There were four rounds partnered conversation, each with time periods for listening and speaking and sometimes to address specific questions pulled from a Skip the Small Talk version of conversation starters. The facilitator rang a bell to mark the end of each time period. Overall the tone was inviting and the attendees (~20 people) were excited and eager to talk.
Small talk can be a fruitful strategy to find common ground and get to know someone; I’m not opposed it, although I’ve wondered about it’s ritualistic aspects. Sometimes it’s awkward, but you move on and live your life. Other times, I’ve had the most wonderful conversations with folks I’ll never see again—often in transit. I believe that there’s something to learn from everyone so best to remain open and see where you land together. While this event certainly created a pathway to speed past the small talk runway, I didn’t have as much fun as I might chatting with a cab driver. The kind of chatter this event supported was expected and not spontaneous. The time pressure of the bell was annoying and disruptive to the conversation flow; I was constantly thinking about when it would next ring.
It’s possible that the game I’m developing puts small talk in the spotlight especially if your challenged to navigate it with a set of unusual words to hid into your conversation. This might be more the case if players are prompted with a general topic area as opposed to a question that directs the conversation from the beginning.
Here’s a list of the some of the resources I’ve collected:
To help me understanding strategies for audience engagement in creative projects:
Candy, Linda, and Ernest A. Edmonds. Interacting: Art, Research and the Creative Practitioner. Libri Publishing, 2011.
To help me identify and understand the rules of talk:
Enfield, N. J. How We Talk : The Inner Workings of Conversation. Basic Books, 2017.
Hutchby, Ian and Robin Wooffitt. Conversation Analysis. Polity, 2008.
Jaworski, Adam and Nikolas Coupland. The Discourse Reader. Routledge, 2006.
Reynolds, Edward. “Truth Is, Everyone Lies All the Time.” The Conversation, http://theconversation.com/truth-is-everyone-lies-all-the-time-6749. Accessed 2 Mar. 2019.
Sacks, Harvey. “Spring 1967.” Lectures on Conversation, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2010, pp. 547–616, doi:10.1002/9781444328301.ch5.
Sidnell, Jack, and Tanya Stivers. The Handbook of Conversation Analysis. Wiley-Blackwell, 2013.
TEDx Talks. The Science of Analyzing Conversations, Second by Second | Elizabeth Stokoe | TEDxBermuda. YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtOG5PK8xDA. Accessed 2 Mar. 2019.
Tannen, Deborah. Conversational Style : Analyzing Talk among Friends. Oxford University Press, USA, 2005.
Psathas, George. Conversation Analysis. 2019, doi:10.4135/9781412983792.
Wooffitt, Robin. Conversation Analysis and Discourse Analysis : A Comparative and Critical Introduction. SAGE, 2005.
To help me think like a game developer:
“Extra Credits: Writing for Games.” YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLhyKYa0YJ_5ATCznEwJx794x4RMuYNZLN. Accessed 2 Mar. 2019.
Macklin, Colleen, and John Sharp. Games, Design and Play: A Detailed Approach to Iterative Game Design. First edition, Addison-Wesley, 2016.
Schell, Jesse author. The Art of Game Design. CRC Press, 2015.
Sharp, John. “Game Design, Dynamics and the Ripples of Play.” Hey, I’m John., 4 Apr. 2016, http://www.heyimjohn.com/ripples-of-play/. Accessed 10 Mar. 2019.
Tekinbaş, Katie Salen. Rules of Play : Game Design Fundamentals. MIT Press, 2004.
Tekinbaş, Katie Salen, and Eric 1969- Zimmerman. The Game Design Reader : A Rules of Play Anthology. MIT Press, 2006.