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Arcade: First Philosophical Game Night

A regular attendee made an interesting suggestion for a new type of meeting.  I think it will fun to try it.  I call it "Arcade" because it has to do with gaming, with giving ourselves challenges for the heck of it.  

To some extent, we will work out the game's "rules" on the spot, which will be excellent for raising our consciousness about what philosophical  dialogue is.  The games don't have to have a score, or even an objective that could be said to be 'achieved', but a sprinkle of competition seems to be necessary to capture players' interest.

But I did try something like this over a year back, and discovered something.  While the basic concept of a game might come as a sudden insight, the enjoyment people get from playing may be largely a result of the dynamics of play, and the effort needed to learn the rules.  What that suggests to us is be more derivative:  the dynamics will be more proven, and many people will already know the rules.  Even if they aren't familiar with the game, we know from its popularity that it can be learned.  We will transform the proven party game with philosophical content.

The suggestion I received was reminiscent of Apples to Apples, a very popular "thinking" game that was a hit gift to my own niece and nephew.  In A2A, each player tries to establish a link between a target green (adjective) card and one of their own red (noun) cards.  While it isn't required, players of course try to "sell" their card's affinity (or cleverness or creativity or whateverness) to the "judge" (a role that rotates during play--or simply use consensus for less formal play).  This is what stimulates conversation and makes it enjoyable for adults as well.  

So what if we simply replaced words (both nouns and adjectives) with ideas, memes, phenomena?  The fitness of the match between any two would be the plausibility (or cleverness, humorousness, etc.) of the connection that player can describe.  We might discover word categories to be useful:  say, target green cards are philosophical notions, and players' red cards are things from everyday life.  We can easily experiment with that, because we're going to be making up all the cards at the meeting, though you're welcome to think up ideas in advance (we'll be using 3"x5" blank index cards).  We might draw on the many variations of A2A gameplay listed here as well.

I call this "Game Night" because the principle objective is to have fun, rather than explore any given theme.  In the future, we might harness a game we've come to enjoy to a particular theme which would be announced in advance.  With or without a theme, I suspect we'll learn a few things from one another and from the play itself, not to mention gain some shared experiences.


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  • A former member
    A former member

    The game was a lot of fun - I wish I could have stayed longer. I love the idea of finding the connections between everyday things and philosophical concepts/ideas. The game is a great way to explore these connections.

    September 25, 2013

  • Chance

    Car broken :(

    September 24, 2013

    • Jeff G

      Ironically, perhaps, I won a close round using the unlikely card "BART"...

      September 25, 2013

  • Jennifer

    How fun! out of town a couple days. Hope to try it next time...

    September 23, 2013

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