Break up your tech-dominated lockdown with a pen and paper game perfect for a few laughs around the dinner table.
Pen and paper games are limited by two things: the equipment and your imagination. That’s to say that the laughs generated (or not) are totally dependent on how silly, stupid, or loco you let yourself get, which after a week in lockdown should be pretty easy.
We’re not talking about Noughts And Crosses here or Hangman, though they are some classics we’ve all enjoyed once or twice when we were kids. Rather, we’re talking about a quick, little-to-no prep activity you can whip out onto the table before being told to begin the washing up. The laughs might also tempt someone else into uncorking another bottle of wine.
1. Exquisite Corpse
Exquisite Corpse originated in 1920s France and was primarily played by the Surrealists, so you know that this game is going to be good for some whacky laughs.
A minimum of three people is needed to play and there are a number of variations that can be enjoyed. However, all that you really need is a writing instrument and a sheet of paper for each player.
To play: Each player folds their paper into three equal parts (top and bottom are the short sides). To begin, each player draws the ‘head’ of their exquisite corpse in the top third without showing it to the others and when finished folds the top third over so that it is hidden from sight. When all players have finished drawing the ‘head’, the paper is passed to the left where the second player draws the ‘body’ of the exquisite corpse. This pattern continues until the exquisite corpse is complete and its hideous beauty revealed by the fourth or original drawer.
To add a healthy dose of imagination to your newfound artistry, come up with names for your corpses and even invent stories for them. You might even need to explain your intentions if the others have no idea what you tried to draw. The game can also be played with a time limit on drawing and no erasers so as to prevent certain players from taking forever.
2. Paper Telephones
Like all brilliant paper and pen games, Paper Telephones has been made into a board game. But, why shell out your hard-earned money if you could just play at home with paper and pens?
Anyway, to play Paper Telephones each participating player begins with writing a sentence at the top of their page, for example, ‘the cat is in heat’, before passing the paper to their left.
The second player should then draw an image for the first sentence before folding the top part of the paper and hiding the first sentence from prying eyes. The paper, with the first drawn image visible, is then passed onto the third player who, you guessed it, should write a sentence describing the drawing.
The pattern is continued until there is no more paper to write or draw on and the sentences and drawings are revealed to show that some of your lockdown buddies are straight-up freaky.
3. Contour Drawing
Best played with a partner, Contour Drawing is a quick and amusing game that will have you repeatedly trying to draw your partner’s face over and over again, each time coming up with some of the strangest faces you have seen since Picasso.
To play, face your partner and without looking down and without lifting the pencil or pen from the paper, draw their face. It’s that simple. Draw at the same time and compare the artworks for laughs all round.
4. Art Directors
Art Director doesn’t so much as test your ability to draw as it does your ability to give and receive directions. To play, every participant needs a sheet of paper and something to draw with, including the Art Director in the group.
To begin, the Art Director conceals his or her sheet of paper from the group and begins to draw a picture bit by bit. Then, as they continue their drawing, they must instruct the group as to how to draw the concealed picture. For example, draw a rectangle in the middle of the paper is a simple enough instruction, but does is it lying horizontal or vertical?
Once the Art Director’s drawing is complete and there are no more instructions to give, reveal the drawings and find out who in your household pays attention and who in the household doesn’t listen to instructions.
It’s time to write a story. But don’t worry, it’s collaborative and surreal so the bigger your imagination, the crazier the read.
In a similar vein to Paper Telephones, this is another write/draw and fold game. To begin, each participant requires a sheet of paper where they will write at the top before folding to conceal that part of the story and passing it to the person on their left. t
But how do you know what to write? Easy, everybody follows the same instruction at the same time, which are as follows, before folding, concealing and passing to their left-hand side:
- an adjective to describe a man
- a man’s name
- an adjective for a woman
- a woman’s name
- the location of where they met
- what did he say to her
- what did he give her
- what did she say to him
- what did she give to him
- what happened after
- and what did the world say?
The magic and hilarity of Consequences is keeping what you write a secret so that when the story is read aloud to the group there aren’t any spoilers. Also, the stories will be much funnier with names like ‘Mr. P. Ennis’ and not ‘Jack’. Jack isn’t funny. Jack is just boring.
Guess the name of the celebrity, movie, or song that your teammate is trying to describe.
To help with gameplay, each player should individually write up a list of famous people, movies or songs that all the other players should know. (Although, titles they don’t know can be equally fun with the right attitude.) The more names on your list, and those of your fellow players, the better the game will be. Once that’s done, rip them up into individual pieces, put them into some kind of receptacle, and set yourself up in teams or pairs.
To play, one player picks out a name from the receptacle and describes it to their partner or team in one minute without using any of the words written on the piece of paper. When the time is up, count your score and let the other team have a go.
The same process can be applied to play Charades and Pictionary.
[Featured image: Unsplash]