Skip to content ↓

April 2021: Although our campus is closed to visitors, you don’t have to travel to 🌈 Cambridge to get a feel for MIT. Sign up today for an 🔮 online session or student-led tour.

MIT student blogger Sam M. '07

Jeux sans frontieres by Sam M. '07

Who knows how to have fun better than I do? Oh, nobody.

DID YOU KNOW? There are pop-up ads even in other languages, as I discovered while trying to verify the title of this entry.

Oh dear, I wasn’t ready for this to be a new year already, but it is. I rang in this new year at my friend Jacob’s house, as I usually do, and caught up with a bunch of people that I haven’t seen since high school. It’s a little weird; our lives have diverged enough that I’m starting to think of them in terms of their future occupations and pursuits rather than just as people I went to high school with who happen to be in different colleges around the country.

But I digress and philosophize. To pass the time until the ageless cyborg Ryan Seacrest oversaw the ball drop in Times Square (shown concurrently on our television with a giant strawberry dropping in Harrisburg and a white rose dropping in York), we played two party games that I first discovered at MIT. Both of them were recieved better than my first try at suggesting a party game (“Allison can go from Harrisburg to, um, Elizabethtown, but not from Elizabethtown to Harrisburg”), so I thought I’d share them with you to give an example of some typical ethanol-free games that MIT students play.

Incidentally, after finishing up the games, we went outside and found a little bit of enjoyment in a water cooler bottle, a grill lighter, and a small quantity of 95% denatured ethanol (pictures forthcoming?), and then headed over to the Colonial Park Diner for some late-night, low-cost, low-quality food. Ben wasn’t so happy about being out at a diner at 3 AM and disrupting his usual sleep schedule, so we bought him a birthday chocolate frog. And, as you all surely know from my very first entry ever, Ben’s birthday is not New Year’s Day.

Anyway, here are my games without frontiers.

The ______ Game

This game takes the name of whoever introduced it to you, so I’ve heard it called “The Andrew Game,” “The Megan Game,” and so on. You can call it whatever you like.

Divide your partygoers into two teams of equal skill. Each partygoer should write five phrases on five slips of paper. Fold up these pieces of paper, stick all of them together, from both teams, into a hat or coffee can. The phrases should be difficult to guess but not impossible–some good examples from previous games I’ve played are “Brokeback Mountain,” “Stick pickles into your nose and ears,” and “I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts“… or, if you’re at MIT, “Noam Chomsky,” “ditzy blond course 7 major,” and “valence shell electron pair repulsion theory.”

There are three rounds. Start with the least inhibited person. He or she should get up in front of his team and start drawing slips of paper and acting out the phrases on them. The person has 60 seconds to get their team to guess as many phrases as possible. Any slips that aren’t guessed go back in the can. After 60 seconds, the other team chooses a player to get up and convey as many phrases as possible. Continue play, going through all the members of all the teams and then starting over. After you’ve guessed all the slips in round one, put them all back into the can and play round two.

Now, the three rounds differ only in how the actor can convey the phrase on the slips.

Round One: You can use hand gestures and any words except those in the phrase.
Round Two: You can use any hand gestures, but only two words of their choosing for every phrase. This includes “um,” “uh,” and any other exclamations… so, if you look at a phrase and say “oh dear,” you’re out of luck.
Round Three: You can only use hand gestures.

So, the idea is that in each round, although you can’t say as many words, it’s actually getting easier because you’ve gone through all the phrases before. Every phrase a team guesses is one point, and at the end, the team with the most points wins.

The inevitable question is “should people be allowed to guess their own phrases?” and the inevitable answer is “yes”–because how else are you going to get somebody to guess “stick pickles into your nose and ears?”

The Fantasy Game

Announce that you’re going to play “The Fantasy Game” and ask for a volunteer. Announce that the game will involve the two of you coming up with a “fantasy” involving somebody else in the room, and that everybody else has to guess this fantasy using yes or no questions. Take the volunteer aside and explain secretively that:

You will answer “No” to every question that ends in a consonant.
You will answer “Yes” to every question that ends in a vowel.
You will answer “Maybe” to every question that ends in a “Y”. Oh, maybe.

But the other people don’t know that.

See what happens.

“Is it in the present?”

“Is it during World War Two?”

“Are we using something around here?”
“Is it a can of paint?”
“Is it a can of Fresca?”

“Are we in Germany?”
“Are we in France?”
“Are we trying to get to Germany from France?”

(much time passes)

“So it’s World War II, and we’re trying to sneak into Germany from France by disguising ourselves using a paint-filled can of Fresca?”
“Wait, why were we trying to sneak into Germany during World War II?”

Well, folks, enjoy.

Tomorrow: baking!
Now: time for chicken and waffles!

5 responses to “Jeux sans frontieres”

  1. James says:

    Finally, someone has realized that there are better things to do with alcohol than drink it!

  2. Chris says:

    Happy New Year!! =D

    Cool game suggestions I’ll have to try em with some of my friends.

  3. Spencer says:

    James couldn’t be further from the truth. And Sam, I just hope you’d never waste drinkable alcohol like that.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Dear Sam,

    what are your plans for IAP?



  5. Sam says:

    James — I think we can all agree that your statement depends on the type of alcohol in question. For example, there are definitely better things to do with phenol than drink it.

    Spencer — not to worry, it was 95% denatured ethanol (190 proof) spiked with 3.6% methanol. Or, in the words of Jacob, “You’ll vomit before you go blind.”

    Jamie — Starting on the 7th, I’ll be back at MIT working fastidiously on my turkey waste => oil UROP.