The most admired quality in ‘play people’ seems to be when they have a game for any occasion. I think everyone has this in them, however, and you rarely need anything special to hand to play. Here are five of my favourite activities to play with no extra equipment required.

1) Hide and Seek

Hide and Seek as an adult is far more exhilarating and fun than as a child. You retain that childlike terror of being found, but this time you actually have some notion of how to hide (no, covering your eyes doesn’t work!) and the person seeking has some concept of where to look!

There’s something brilliantly passive about being required to stay in one place until, inevitably, you’re found.

Bonus fun if you play in the dark!

2) Twenty Questions

It’s a classic, and I was a bit shocked recently to have been in a room where about a quarter of the people hadn’t heard of it!

Basically: identify what ‘thing’ one of the group has thought of by asking only 20 yes/no questions.

When you were a kid you probably thought it was a failing of the game that it forced you to say yes or no to questions where it might not be entirely clear. This is even worse in the ‘anything goes’ grown up version (Q: Is wave-particle duality alive? A: I’d say no). But in fact this is part of the genius – and fun – of the game: that you’re forced into difficult choices.

3) The Humless

A great game, new to me, care of the wonderful Loose Baker. This only works with a large group of people (but no, I don’t think that counts as equipment). You also need an open space with few obstacles.

Everyone closes their eyes, except the first ‘humless’. The ‘hummers’ fumble about the room, while humming. The humless can’t move, and when the hummers find them, they stop moving, keeping touching whoever they found, open their eyes and go silent.

The game ends when everyone has become humless.

4) Word Association

One person says a word. The next person says another. If you’re playing in a group you carry on around the circle. If you can’t think of a word or repeat one already said, you’re out.

I don’t think adults need worry too much about whether the words actually associate. Just try it, you’ll still find yourself unable to think of a single other word, given total freedom!

Bonus: play ‘every other word association’, where two sequences go round and in this case your word does have to be associated – but with the one before the last word.

5) Make-your-own Rock Paper Scissors

One from Bernie de Koven. Think of three objects, and come up with a logic as to why one beats the next. E.g. Head-Heart-Gut. Feeling beats thinking, knowledge beats feeling, and knowledge is nothing without thought.

Or perhaps the more random the better? Space; Book; Tiredness.

Try playing with three people. Or more objects. You’ll find that making it your own makes the game completely fresh, and much more enjoyable than it already is!


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