Ian posted this wonderful game idea on his blog, inspired by (among other things) the way fundamentalists deal with the diversity and contradictions within the Bible. If you play it, let me know – indeed, feel free to use the comments section here to play or at least start a game!
There Are No Contradictions! (A Game for 3-6 Players)
3-6 players, ages 6+
Takes from 15 minutes to several hours.
May be played face to face, by email or on forums.
Aim: To receive the most votes by telling the most interesting stories.
Equipment: A supply of small slips of paper and a pencil for each participant to vote with. A 1 minute timer is optional.
Overview: The game proceeds in rounds. There can be any number of rounds in the game. In each round, each player has a turn to be the storyteller. During their turn they tell a story, which the other players each challenge. When all players have taken their turn, each player votes for the other player who told the best story in that round. Votes are retained from round to round. At the end of the game, the player with the most total votes is the winner.
Play: Choose a starting player at random. That player is first to be the storyteller.
The storyteller begins by giving the basics of their story in a 1 minute telling. In this period they establish an exciting, larger than life character, a world-threatening menace, trials of superhuman proportion, and an epic victory. No story is too far-fetched, but stories must be complete: this isn’t just an introduction with a cliff-hanger.
When the telling is done, each other player challenges the storyteller. Challenges begin with the player on the storytellers left and proceed clockwise. A challenge begins with the words “But I heard…”, the challenger then tries to deliberately contradict the storyteller in one crucial detail of their story. So if the story revealed that the hero was born in Zanzibar, the challenge might say “But I heard that he was born in a small town near Wichita, Kansas.” Keep challenges specific, contradictory and short.
After a challenge, the storyteller then has one minute of justification. Justifications begin with the words “You’re right…” But the storyteller must never admit their original story was wrong. They must justify how both their original story is true, and how the challenger came to hear what they said they heard. They have 1 minute to do this, but can take less, if the justification is simple.
After a justification, the next player makes their challenge. Further challenges can build on previous ones, so following the challenge above, the next player may say “But I heard he was born on a transatlantic flight, somewhere over Greenland.” And the storyteller must now weave all three pieces of information together.
When all players have made their challenge, the storyteller’s turn is over. The next player, in clockwise order, becomes the storyteller and begins their story. When all players have been the storyteller, everyone votes for the most convincing story. Players vote by writing the name of the person who told the best story, on a slip of paper, and placing it face down in the middle of the table. Players may not vote for themselves. The votes are then shuffled, and revealed. Votes are totalled over all rounds in the game.
To avoid players recognizing each others’ writing during voting, one player may prepare voting slips for everyone, and those slip can be reused from round to round.
This game is inspired by The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen, by the games designer James Wallis, and by countless Evangelical apologists for the bible. It is genuinely intended for play. It is instructive, I think, in just how simple it is to justify any contradiction, once you get into the swing of it.