I previously posted rules for some outdoor games that my brother Steven and I had invented. Here are some word games from the same source.
This is a variant of “Ghost”. James Thurber proposed an extension of Ghost which he called Superghost, where players can add letters at either the beginning or end of the word in progress.
Two or more can play Phantom. In each round, one player is the caller. The caller rotates among all the players. The caller calls out a series of letters of the Roman alphabet. The object for the other players is to find an English word that contains those letters consecutively and in the same order. As in almost all such word games, proper nouns, hyphenated words, and abbreviations may not be used. So, for example, if the caller says “P A R”, correct responses could be sePARate, PARagraph, feldsPAR, etc., but not imPAiR or hARP. The object for the caller is to stump the other players.
In competitive play, the first player to find a correct answer (not necessarily the word the caller had in mind) gets a point. If none of the players can think of a correct answer in an agreed-upon time limit (one minute is usual), the caller gets a point. However, to get that point, the caller must say what word he or she had in mind. If unable to do so, the caller loses a point.
This is a game to produce imitation automatic writing. A blank sheet of paper is inserted in a typewriter. (It is easy to see how to adapt this game to computer play.) The players take turns typing just one word at a time. As in “Ghost”, each player must have a possible completion in mind for the sentence he’s working on, which must be grammatical. If a player can’t see any way to go on, he challenges. The previous player is then entitled to end the sentence. If he can’t do so, his word is crossed out, and the player before him is allowed to finish the sentence. Punctuation is added along with the word following it, not with the word preceding.
The object is to produce prose which reflects your own individuality and style more than anyone else’s. When everyone is tired of the game, players vote on who’s done the best job, and the winner gets to title the work. (The loser is obliged to sign his byline to it.)
Depending on the players, it may be advisable to adopt ad hoc rules like “only one new character allowed in each paragraph.”
Metaphysical Twenty Questions
A variant of “Twenty Questions”. The number of questions is not limited to 20 anymore, and the topic can be any concept, whether real or imaginary. The person choosing a topic doesn’t have to say animal, vegetable, or mineral. A suitable first question might be “Is it a thing?”, followed by “Does it exist?”, but the answer to that could be “I don’t know.”
Some topics that were used when we played the game were (1) the souls of all the cows that have been slaughtered to make McDonald’s hamburgers, (2) the first occasion when an extra-terrestrial intelligence ever watches an episode of “I Love Lucy”, (3) a tent made by the apostle Paul.
For further examples, here are some items for a scavenger hunt that we, with our friend Dave Johnson, made up just for laughs.
(4) A life-size cardboard cutout photograph of Queen Elizabeth II in red hot pants playing shuffleboard with a day-old Table Talk pie while doing a tap dance, (5) a nose cut from Mount Rushmore, with moustache attached, (6) a Sunday New York Times with all the o’s blacked in, (7) a notarized shopping bag, (8) a perpetual-motion machine, (9) a stereopticon slide of the LEM in the Sea of Tranquility, (10) a map of Hell (signed by Satan to guarantee authenticity).
We were thinking about a scenario with college kids ringing someone’s doorbell and saying, “For a scavenger hunt, we need a life-size cardboard cutout photograph of Queen Elizabeth in red hot pants playing shuffleboard with a day-old Table Talk pie while doing a tap dance. Do you have one by any chance?” The guy says, “Let me check my closet. Is that Elizabeth I or II?”