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Games people play - shadows of echoes of memories of songs
j4
j4
Games people play
This is cheating a bit, but then I've already set the bar low by resorting to writing about my dreams on day 2, so a meme isn't really much worse, right...?

Rules: Use the first letter of your name to answer each of the following questions. They have to be real . . . nothing made up! If the person before you had the same first initial, you must use different answers. You cannot use any word twice and you can't use your name for the boy/girl name question.



Your name: Janet
A four-letter word: jolt
A boy's name: Julian
A girl's name: Jerilyn (it is a real name, I had a friend at primary school called that)
An occupation: judge
A color: jaune (cheating, I know, but I can't think of a real one!)
Something you wear: jacket
A food: jerky (om nom nom)
Something found in the bathroom: Janet (quite frequently these days)
A place: Janet's house (this is getting desperate)
A reason for being late: Janet going back to get something she forgot
Something you shout: jump!
A movie title: Jaws
Something you drink: juice (preferably grape)
A musical group: 
Journey
An animal: jagular
A street name: Jeune Street
The title of a song: Jilted John

This one's a bit of an odd 'meme' (in the sense that we seem to use the word on LiveJournal) because the answers don't seem to have to be anything personal. In fact, it's not so much a meme, as a game. We used to play it at home, and we called it "Fruit Flower" because those were the first two categories on the list. Fruit, flower, boy's name, girl's name, places, that sort of thing. I don't know where the list came from but it got printed out on neat little sheets time and time again, a game that children and adults could play together (though categories like "politician" or "cocktail" tended to be a bit of a lost cause for me as a child). You had to try to get a different word from everybody else, and the points you scored were reduced for every other person who shared your answer: so if 5 people were playing and 4 of them had the same answer, they'd each only score 1 point, but if nobody else had the same answer, they'd score 5 points. The letter for each round was selected by sticking a pin in a page of text with your eyes shut. (This was before the internet! There's probably an app for it now.)

Many years later we got the board game Scattergories for Christmas, and were delighted to find that it was Fruit Flower but with new and better lists (and a timer that went chka-chka-chka-chka-chka-chka for 3 minutes in the most distracting way possible before going off with a deafening BRRRRRRRRING that made you jump and skitter your pencil across the paper). The lists in Scattergories were much sillier, and therefore there was much more leeway for ridiculous answers which could be happily argued over: "something sticky", "something you're afraid of", "something you'd find in the fridge". (The scoring was easier, too: 1 point for a unique answer, otherwise no points.) It was always interesting to see how many times people come up with the same obvious answer, or the same non-obvious answer (second-guessing the obvious answer), or the same in-joke answer. I was delighted the first time the letter 'S' came up for the list containing the category 'something sticky' as it meant I could put "STICK" (it's one of my favourite jokes: Q: "What's brown and sticky?" A: "A stick") ... only to find that at least one other person had thought they were being just as clever by doing the same thing.

At the risk of turning this into the Wikipedia article on category games (Category:Category Games), this game is also featured in an episode of The Simpsons... OK, I lied. Well, it might have been, but I don't know. However, there is a description of the Chalet School girls playing the same game, in A Problem for the Chalet School (1956), as part of an evening's entertainment of 'paper games':
At Rosamund's table, when they had opened their folded slips, they found them headed with a large N and beneath a list as Country, Town, River, Book Title, Girl's Name, Boy's Name and so on. They had to name one of each beginning with the letter N. "Keep them as out of the ordinary as you can," Len warned the others. "If you get names other people have, they're crossed out and won't count." [...]
Unfortunately Wikipedia seems to have deemed the game not notable enough to exist so I don't have a good starting point for finding earlier references to it, but I should imagine it's been around for a long time. People like putting things in categories: women, fire, dangerous things, animals that belong to the emperor, that sort of thing. People like putting things in boxes, tagging them.

A post about categories would have probably been more interesting than this one, but to be honest I'm too tired to do it justice. Put this post in the 'space-filler' category and have done with it. But it's still another day ticked off the list.

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simont From: simont Date: November 4th, 2010 11:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
(The scoring was easier, too: 1 point for a unique answer, otherwise no points.) It was always interesting to see how many times people come up with the same obvious answer, or the same non-obvious answer (second-guessing the obvious answer), or the same in-joke answer.

A few years ago I used to hang around on rec.puzzles, on which (among many other threads) two different people would post regular contests called 'Common Answers' and 'Rare Entries'. Each contest would take the form of a quiz with no obvious 'right' answers, containing questions of the form 'name a foo' where the set of possible foo was finite but not too big. The scoring systems were exactly opposed: in Common Answers you scored a lot of points by having the same answer as many other people, whereas in Rare Entries you scored higher for having fewer people pick your answer.

The curious thing was that in both, you were often tempted to pick wrong answers. For instance, in Common Answers one would be tempted to answer 'Name a scary insect' with 'SPIDER' despite knowing that spiders aren't insects, because one anticipated that lots of people who didn't know that would pick that answer. Or would they? I mean, it's rec.puzzles, surely it's crawling with people who know all the trick questions. But maybe each of them thinks everyone else is stupid, so they'll still all say SPIDER. Or perhaps not... Whereas Rare Entries was less a matter of second-guessing and more one of brinkmanship, so you'd try to name something that just about qualified for the terms of the question but was so borderline nobody else would have dared to say it. As a result, Rare Entries had to be rigorously marked by the question-setter to rule out actually wrong answers, because otherwise you could trivially guarantee uniqueness by answering everything with a string of random letters long enough to make it vanishingly unlikely that anyone else even with the same strategy would have picked the same one; whereas (though there were debates about this) Common Answers could accept any answer in principle, even if wrong, and people would be drawn towards right or sort of right answers just by means of their self-interest.
addedentry From: addedentry Date: November 5th, 2010 09:08 am (UTC) (Link)
I enjoy this sort of guessing other people's guesses (not second-guessing, but guessing squared). I think of it as Family Fortunes despite never having seen the show.

jiggery_pokery once asked a question along the lines, "If you were meeting someone in [New York|London|Paris|Munich], but neither of you knew where the other would be, where would you wait?" which is a roundabout way of asking for a Common Answer.
jiggery_pokery From: jiggery_pokery Date: November 5th, 2010 09:55 am (UTC) (Link)
IIRC, it was "at an unspecified location in an unspecified country anywhere in the world". I think I was covertly begging the answer "underneath the Eiffel Tower", to test a received wisdom that that would/should be the answer, and don't think I got it.

Very similar games to the above were played postally, particularly in the 1990s, normally under names like "By Popular Demand". For instance, "By Quite Popular Demand" (or "By Not So Popular Demand") awards minus (or zero) points to players submitting the single most popular answer, or any of several answers involved in the tie, but positive points (as per Common Answers above) for every other answer. Accordingly the aim was to try to submit the second most popular answer.

On TV, Family Fortunes is indeed based on the Common Answers principle, and the "it doesn't matter whether it's a correct answer or not, just whether people have picked it" property is fun; conversely, Pointless (and, briefly, Topranko) were based on principles rather closer to Scattergories, though (almost always) without the given-initial-letter criterion. Heck, Scattergories itself had a short-lived TV show in the US. This goes to demonstrate - if anything - that there aren't all that many game ideas out there sufficiently simple to turn into a game show.
addedentry From: addedentry Date: November 5th, 2010 10:11 am (UTC) (Link)
You may also remember fivemack's Invariants quiz, in which points went to questions, not answers. A question to which everyone or no one knew the answer got nul points (too easy to set!) The most points went to a question pitched just right, i.e. with 50% correct answers.

But I digress.
simont From: simont Date: November 5th, 2010 11:49 am (UTC) (Link)
That's a scoring system also used in games of induction (well, at least, those organised enough to have a scoring system, i.e. not Mao). Typically each guessing player scores based on how efficiently they guess the rule, and the rule-setter scores in some way that's based on the spread of the guessers' scores, so that (as you say) they're encouraged to set problems at a difficulty level that differentiates players from each other. Of course setters' and guessers' scores aren't directly comparable, so everyone has to take a turn at setting before you can sensibly work out who won.
shermarama From: shermarama Date: November 5th, 2010 10:33 am (UTC) (Link)
(I have a terrible weakness for Pointless... it's something about Alexander Armstrong doing what I'm convinced is an impression of an urbane game show host, like at some point he's going to dramatically kick over his little lectern and, I don't know, either plunge a sword through Richard Osman's heart and then run out laughing, or turn to the camera and deliver the punchline to the entire extraordinarily extended sketch.)
pjc50 From: pjc50 Date: November 5th, 2010 05:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
When interrailing, I seperated from my travelling companion with the agreement that we would meet in two days time at midday under the clock at the main station of Vienna. We thought we'd covered all the contingencies for meeting in an unknown place.

There are three large terminuses in Vienna, none of which is "main" or "central"...
jinty From: jinty Date: November 5th, 2010 04:34 am (UTC) (Link)

Off off off

I grew up playing a similar game, which we call Off Off Off. All you need is paper and pens, some people, and a timer. Fold the paper into eighths; then go round the people each nominating a category. The obvious ones are things like girls names, towns in England; but especially with the sillier people in the Scott family playing, more outré categories like "things you can eat" are listed, with concomitant stretching of plausible answers into silliness. In our rules, the person who nominates a category gets to decide what is and is not a valid answer, even if it's as daft as all get-out. We also don't allow duplicates (hence the name of the game - you shout off off off if you have the same answer as someone else, and if everyone deems your answer is far too silly or outrageously pushes the boundaries too much to be accepted, you'll get it chorused at you by all concerned. It's a very good opportunity to laugh until you cry, the way we play it in my family.

The Scotts (and the Mialls, who are cousins we socialise with a lot) really like word games and pen and paper games. So I was a bit weirded out when I spent my first holiday with R's parents, who play card games (the Devik's pasteboards!) for token amounts of money (gambling!). No, we didn't really reckon card-playing or gambling was a sin when I were a lass, but it's not something i grew up doing, if you see what I mean...
bellinghman From: bellinghman Date: November 5th, 2010 08:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Using 'Janet' 4 times is cheating.

Oh, wait, 'Janet' x 4 ... j4 ... ah!
simont From: simont Date: November 5th, 2010 09:12 am (UTC) (Link)
jaune (cheating, I know, but I can't think of a real one!)

List of colours sorted alphabetically. I'm not sure why that page exists other than to facilitate cheating at word games, but there we go :-)

(Not that most of its Js are all that inspiring. Yours is at least as good, and more laterally thought!)
vinaigrettegirl From: vinaigrettegirl Date: November 6th, 2010 03:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
A place: the jakes.
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