Category Archives: Storytelling Games

Bad Games People Still Play: One Word Stories

It’s the Late-Nineties. Autumn. The whole family is home, dinner having just ended. There’s a big storm tonight. Rain pounds on the roof, wind whips tree branches against the windows. The power goes out.


You have no cell phones. No lap-tops. No Nintendo DS, no PSP. It’s black for a long time. Your eyes have finally adjusted when a candle is lit. It’s set on the dining room table, light scarcely reaching the kitchen. The room is thick with unfamiliar shadows, and the rain keeps on. The family gathers back around the table, around the communal light. It’s too dark to read or draw, so what do you do? Sit and play ‘One Word Stories”.


This is a go-to game for many people and families. And it can be fun, for sure. It’s not a bad game outright, but I still put it in my ‘Bad Games People Still Play’ series, because it could be a lot more fun. Continue reading


Bad Games People Still Play: Telephone

Telephone, or Chinese Whispers, is a simple, and very popular game for kids. Cellobone, or Chinese whimpers, Lisa Thimble, and very popular gamer orchids. But if you’ve ever tried playing Telephone past the age of 12, you’ll know that it just doesn’t work anymore.

People either hear the message perfectly, and pass it along, or they hear the message perfectly, and then try to corrupt it in some ‘hilarious’ way. Usually by changing a few words to ‘poop’, or by outright substitution with their own message.

And you can’t really blame the corrupters. Without them the message wouldn’t change at all, which doesn’t make the game much fun. But rather than jury-rigging the verdict, could the game itself be tinkered with? How do you make telephone fun again?

Side question: Will the game still be called Telephone in 50 years when we're all speaking via microchips in our brains?

Side question: Will the game still be called Telephone in 50 years when we’re all speaking via microchips in our brains?

One of the problems with Telephone is that it is too easy to hear and understand people. You could play with crackers in your mouth, speak quickly or only in Bane impersonations, but there’s another bigger problem, which is that people seldom mishear words as other sillier words. Instead they hear garbled syllables, nothing distinct enough to repeat.

If the parts of the message are not understood, they are either dropped or they are `fixed` to maintain a sensical message. This does alter the original sentence, but does not produce a string of random English words in strange syntax. Seldom do you get the phonetically-similar gibberish that people find so funny. Telephone needs bigger changes than just disguising your voice. Continue reading