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February 4th, 2003


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04:30 am - Sex games
Thanks to everyone who commented on my last message - very much appreciated. Generalising as far as possible, I think I have problems with joining in - not just at parties, but in other situations in life. I can do it, but it never feels very natural and I often end up trying too hard. Not sure if/how I can sort it out, but I get the impression that many things in life will become easier and more pleasant if I do.

Right, onto the meat of the post. Sex games. Let's get the easy jokes out of the way; I am indeed about the least qualified person on the planet to comment on this topic, but I'm going to do so anyway as it forms the intersection of two of my favourite discussion topics. If you're looking for sauce, hie thee to the famous Rez with Trance Vibrator (not work-safe) as previously discussed. I'm also not referring to actual play within a sexual session, a different topic altogether.

This all comes as a response to discussion of "I Have Never" yesterday. Are there any other sex games like it? What makes a good sex game? Can we make a better one? This is all blue-sky thinking; there's a large chance that the game will never get played and no chance there'll be fame or fortune arising from it. After all, history doesn't record the originator of the purity test, though I'm sure they've done well out of it somehow. It's possible that there might have been some discussion of topics like these in 1960s Playboy issues, but I can't think where they'd be discussed today. (Links welcome.)

Incidentally, I was surprised to see the strength of feeling about "I Have Never" - seems I'm less out of line here than I had feared. It does seem strange how little discussion or dissent there was about playing "I Have Never" - the fact that it is in some sense traditional (albeit, by necessary time constraints, a relatively new tradition) meant that it was automatically accepted. I do hope people would be willing to proactively challenge bad tradition in general. While introducing dissent to social events is generally an unhelpful thing, I hope that "I Have Never" - or drinking games at large - needn't be felt to be compulsory. (See http://www.stophazing.org/ passim, though I know this does contradict some of my card game vices and stances.) If I am way out of line here, please do tell me - I can accept it's rational for the conclusion to be for me to change my choices of activities, rather than the world.

For what it's worth, I doubt very much that I shall ever play "I Have Never" again. I wasn't upset about any of the facts that I had to reveal, and can only add that the person whose picture I couldn't find was Natasha Collins from See It Saw It (NB, all work safe). You probably would - or, at least, I would. But that's not important right now.

I've looked into sex games in the past and been disappointed with what I've found. They broadly seem to be ways of generating approximately random lists of instructions as to which players should perform which sexual acts on which other players. To play this game seriously in a safe, sane and consensual manner, this requires that all participants are aware in advance of all possible events and must be prepared to perform them on all possible partners according to the parameters of the game. If you've got to that stage already, then you probably don't need to play the game in order to work out which. As the least worst alternative I have yet found, I commend Mental Strip Poker to the adventurous house. (Technically, for this to be real poker, all the losing/folding players should divulge/pay the information they stake to the winning player only, who is then permitted to use the information garnered as any form of currency they like.)

I pose these as axioms for a desirable hypothetical new sex game:
  • No player must ever be obliged to perform any activity without their explicit prior consent.

  • No player must ever be obliged to reveal any information about themselves without their explicit prior consent.

  • The game should respect players' privacy as far as possible.

  • The game should be sufficiently fun and exciting to play that it actually will get played.

  • The game should generate memorable, positive conversation.

  • The game should be as simple as possible, bearing in mind the possible level of inebriation of the players.

  • It should be possible for the game to come to a satisfactory, definite conclusion.

  • The game should be as entertaining when played for non-sexual stakes or relatively low sexual stakes when as played for relatively high sexual stakes.

I am not convinced that the axioms within this list are either necessary or sufficient, but they look like a good start at the very least. Here's a first draft of a set of rules for a game which aims to be governed by these axioms. Your comments on this first draft ruleset would be very much appreciated, particularly because I suspect this is really a dead simple game that I have made look unduly complex. If anybody actually tries out the game for real, I'd very much like to know the consequences and suggestions for improvement. :-)




I'D LIKE TO...
version one, copyright Chris M. Dickson, 4th February 2003
licensed under my usual Creative Commons License


SUMMARY The group aims to privately discover that all members share a taste for some activity and possibly perform it on the spot.

PREPARATION You need a group of at least three players who are sexually comfortable in each other's company; if they're all the same gender and heterosexual, this game may be an uphill struggle. The larger the group, the less likely that the game will be won - I'm guessing 6-8 reasonably open-minded people who know each other well would be ideal. You also need one plate and at least one pack of playing cards. (The only constraint on the cards is that they must be split at least roughly evenly among red and black cards, with all cards having identical backs.) Players sit in a circle with the plate in the centre. Deal the cards out roughly evenly between the players.

GAMEPLAY Gameplay consists of an identical series of phases repeated over and over again: suggestion, consideration and realisation. One player is selected to start the game - either randomly or the player who is teaching the rules to the others. They are designated as the active player and make the first suggestion.

1) SUGGESTION All players must first check that they have some red cards and some black cards; if anyone ever finds themselves with either all red or all black cards, they must trade cards freely with other players so that each player has red cards and black cards.

The active player makes a statement that "Some day I'd like to..." and then suggests some activity. Whether they would actually like to perform this activity or not is irrelevant - it's quite acceptable to suggest something that you wouldn't be prepared to do. If the players want to discuss their thoughts on the activity suggested, this is the best time to do so. Players then privately cut their own decks of cards and note whether they cut a red card or a black card.

In turn, each player then places one red card and one black card face down in the centre of the circle, one on the plate and one next to the plate. If they cut a red card, they must place their black card on the plate and their red card off the plate. If they cut a black card, then they must decide whether they would ever like to perform the activity in question through their own free choice. If they would, they place their black card on the plate and their red card off the plate; if they wouldn't, they place their red card on the plate and their black card off the plate. The mnemonic is "red card means no".

Once all players have played their cards down, the two piles are shuffled. (Separately, not together.) Both piles are then turned face up. The piles should be "opposites" of each other - one should contain a majority of black cards, the other a majority of red cards, with the majorities being equal. If this isn't the case, or if it turns out that there are not the same number of cards in the pack as players, then somebody has played incorrectly. Each player is handed one red card and one black card from the piles and the placement procedure begins again on the same suggestion.

If it proves the case that every player has played one red card and one black card, we look to see whether there are any red cards on the plate. If there is even one red card on the plate, the suggestion is defeated. The right to make the next suggestion passes to the player on their left, round and round in a circle, and the suggestion phase starts again. If everybody has played a black card onto the plate, the game advances to the consideration phase.

2) CONSIDERATION All players retrieve one red card and one black card from the centre of the circle. The active player makes a statement that "Some day I'd really like to..." and repeats the same suggestion. The voting procedure is repeated in exactly the same way, but this time no players cut the deck and all players judge where to play their black card based on whether they would like to perform the suggested activity some day or not.

The same checks take place as in the "suggestion" phase to ensure that all players have played correctly. If it proves the case that every player has played one red card and one black card, we look to see whether there are any red cards on the plate. If there is even one red card on the plate, the suggestion is defeated. The right to make the next suggestion passes to the player on their left, round and round in a circle, and the suggestion phase starts again. If everybody has played a black card onto the plate, the game advances to the possible realisation phase.

3) POSSIBLE REALISATION All players retrieve one red card and one black card from the centre of the circle. The active player makes a statement that "Right now I'd like to..." and repeats the same suggestion. The voting procedure is repeated in exactly the same way. Again all players judge where to play their black card based on whether they would like to perform the suggested activity right now in the current company or not.

The same checks take place as in the "suggestion" phase to ensure that all players have played correctly. If it proves the case that every player has played one red card and one black card, we look to see whether there are any red cards on the plate. If there is even one red card on the plate, the suggestion is defeated. The right to make the next suggestion passes to the player on their left, round and round in a circle, and the suggestion phase starts again.

If, however, everybody has played a black card onto the plate, the game immediately concludes. All players have won and then immediately perform the activity that they have all explicitly consented to on three separate occasions.

4) STYLE GUIDE The reason why this game is played is that it lets the group have communal shared discoveries that all its members share a taste for some activity, or a disdain for some activity. All players have the same opportunity to anonymously opt in or opt out; if there is not complete consensus then nobody will know who is in dissent. (Exception: if you are the sole voter in one direction, you will know that everyone else is unanimous on the issue. Probably best to keep quiet about this.)

If many suggestions are not passing unanimously, it is likely that the players are requesting too high stakes and future suggestions should contain lower stakes. It would probably be more likely that "all players describe the location where they'd most like to make love" or "all players reveal the film star they would most like to kiss" would be realised than "all the male players perform cunnilingus on all the female players". There is no penalty in starting with stakes which are too low; after all, if you realise a low-stakes desire then you can play again to realise a higher-stakes desire. It may be useful for there to be a reasonably long list of possible low-stakes suggestions, which players would be free to use, adapt or ignore.

Finally, it is not possible for players to lose this game. Either the entire group wins - the prize being knowledge of shared tastes and possibly even immediate realisation of those tastes - or the game is abandoned with nobody having won. I suppose you could declare abandoning the game without having reached consensus on any mutual desire to constitute mutual loss.




There's some pretty good theory behind this game. The "randomly decide whether to tell the truth or answer yes with the opportunity to change your mind later" technique is adapted from one that is used to estimate the proportion of participants in sexual practices that people would be unlikely to voluntarily admit to. The "everyone submits both answers and nobody knows for sure how any other person has voted" technique is adapted from the old "blackballing" practices used in some private clubs' membership admission policies. The three-stage process is deliberate to provide drama; first time round, you never know whether people really do share a taste or whether they've been forced to claim they do. Should there be any unanimous mutual acceptances at the second or third stages then the group should be able to spectacularly revel in their new-found shared passion.

Some day I'd like to play this game. In the right company it would be fun and could be a lot of fun.
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
Current Music: The fine works of missingdonut; review soon, Dan!

(31 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:alice_and_lain
Date:February 3rd, 2003 09:38 pm (UTC)
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*grins* Does look like a fun game. I like that there are three chances to bow out; of course, there are three chances to bow out which might be bad for those of us who tend to overanalyze situations and second-guess themselves...

~Amber
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:February 3rd, 2003 10:01 pm (UTC)
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The acid test must be "would you play it", though? :-)

Having three chances to back out (well, 2½, I suppose) makes this a lot more ethically palatable to me. After all, there isn't a rule to say that you can't go back and change your mind later. Suppose you get to stage three, play a red card only to find that everyone else chose a black one. There's nothing to stop you from declaring that it was your red card which held everything up if you really want to change your mind.

Hmm, that does identify a problem, doesn't it - we can't really allow that because there's no way to prove that it was your red card after all. If you claimed it was your red card when it wasn't then this would break the trust/privacy/anonymity paradigm. I suppose the legal way to do this would be to propose the suggestion that only you voted down first time and then not vote it down second time.

I also have a suspicion that this game's inherent safety and reasonableness inherently would lead to its failure. Would the sort of people who'd insist on playing a game which does give you 2½ chances to say no actually ever get round to doing anything in practice? The game's success is predicated on the existence of such people. I don't know if this actually is reasonable in a society with today's ethics, morals and tastes - but the only way to find out is to give it a try.

If you're up for it, I'm up for it - only a few more and we've got ourselves a game...
[User Picture]
From:addedentry
Date:February 4th, 2003 05:47 am (UTC)

Calibration

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Finding players' levels could be a problem. Of course this is the problem that the game is designed to solve. But it might require leadership and good judgment from the first player, because the suggestions should not become too dramatic too quickly (no gameplay fun, risk of alienating players) but risks need to be taken to enliven the game (some people may find the fact of making a suggestion simply too revealing).

My god, I think you've just codified flirting.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:February 4th, 2003 09:04 am (UTC)

Re: Calibration

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Your comments are spectacularly spot on. *doffs cap*

My god, I think you've just codified flirting.

Went for and got. I'm not sure that there are many people who would actually rather do this slightly intricate, arbitrary procedure than flirting naturally - it's sort of flirting for gamers and geeks. However, you know, I think there actually is this audience who would benefit from the procedure as an icebreaker at the very least. *raises hand*... and I don't think I'm alone.
[User Picture]
From:missingdonut
Date:February 3rd, 2003 10:29 pm (UTC)
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Hmm... the game seems a bit, well... complex. Sex isn't that complex; I could probably explain it to someone in under four sentences. Interesting idea, but I imagine it would be used by those who aren't in a sober enough state to think.

Current music: The fine works of krazydan_11; review soon, Dan!

Well, I'm glad you got the CD, and it's a good thing I'm not reviewing it.

"Most of the CD was bland and repetitive, with #1005 through #1009 being much of the same, and #1001 and #1002 being poorly synthesised. I began to feel seasick during #1006 and began to feel sick to my stomach when I heard the slaughtering of Alan Thicke's music in #2006. Negative four stars."
[User Picture]
From:leiabelle
Date:February 3rd, 2003 10:40 pm (UTC)

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Sex isn't that complex; I could probably explain it to someone in under four sentences.

I can do it in one: Insert Tab A into Slot B.

*runs away cackling*
[User Picture]
From:missingdonut
Date:February 3rd, 2003 10:45 pm (UTC)

Sorry -- I think the quiz was right.

(Link)
I can do it in one: Insert Tab A into Slot B.

*runs away cackling*


Well, you got half of the joke. Of course, sometimes there's two people with Tab A, and sometimes there's two people with or Slot B. It's then that you'd appreciate the [ahem] extended explanation :^)
[User Picture]
From:dancingrain
Date:February 4th, 2003 01:07 am (UTC)

Re: Sorry -- I think the quiz was right.

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Well, if you allow a wide range of what tabs and slots you're accepting, everyone I know has at least one tab and one slot to make use of. More to the point is that not all forms of sex involve insertion of tabs into anything, or the active use of any slot(s) that might be present.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:February 4th, 2003 07:12 am (UTC)

Re: Sorry -- I think the quiz was right.

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*ding* You so get it. :-)

I would think it unlikely that most social, but not explicitly swinger-y, parties would have any particular interest in inserting any tabs in any slots. However, this is a way of suggesting some moderately salacious activity in a fashion that anyone can veto it without feeling bad about using their veto at all.

I would have thought that the closest that we would have got to slot/tab activity (*) at MacT00bage might have been on the level of, say, "reenacting scenes, fully clothed, from R-rated stories", or "face-painting each other with the famous m00se and then licking it all off". FWIW, I would happily have black-carded either of those.

Now admittedly the quality of the game is only going to be as high as the quality of the suggestions within, so you would need some imaginitive perverts to come up with good suggestions which people are likely to be up for in practice, plus there's the negotiation process regarding exactly who will do what to whom even after the activity has been agreed. As a basic framework, I think it's worth exploring, though.

(*) use of the slash between "slot" and "tab" not implying any particular sexuality of relationship. Insert "eww, het" here ad lib.
[User Picture]
From:dancingrain
Date:February 4th, 2003 11:07 am (UTC)

Re: Sorry -- I think the quiz was right.

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I would think it unlikely that most social, but not explicitly swinger-y, parties would have any particular interest in inserting any tabs in any slots.

Mm, tongue-tabs into mouth-slots, I could see happening at some social events; after all, aside from questionable consent issues, Spin the Bottle's a pretty tame game. Plus I can imagine a scenario of, say "I'd like to see person X and person Y, who obviously are in deep denial of their Great And T00by Love, kiss" etc. If both X and Y black card it, then everything's good.

As for salaciousness, we have only to ensure that anatsuno is in the room...
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:February 5th, 2003 01:46 pm (UTC)

Re: Sorry -- I think the quiz was right.

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You raise an excellent point. :-) Thank you for thinking so hard about it.

I wasn't really aware of the finer details of Spin The Bottle. I thought it was fairly generic as to what could happen between spinner and spinnee (hmm - not the right word, for the spinnee would be the bottle, but you know what I mean), but kissing would be a tame conclusion.

Had thought of "specifically naming people" suggestions as a possibility, but hadn't come to any precise conclusions about them. There is scope for bruised feelings if it turns out that there is exactly one red card when two people have been specifically named; if you played the red card then you know you've let the other player down, if you didn't play the red card then it's tantamount to a knockback. If neither of the two named players played a red card but someone else did then we have a mighty misunderstanding and bruised feelings all round. Yet there can be no modification to the mechanism or the essential paradigm of trust and anonymity would be lost.

Perhaps it should be established that people can't, or shouldn't, make suggestions specifically naming two people; I have a feeling that this is probably a ground rule worth consideration on a game-by-game basis rather than something worth playing in all games.

I would be rather more tempted to make suggestions which affect all players equally, like "I'd like to give the player on my left a backrub" (on the assumption that people will tend to sit next to the people who they'd most like to sit next to...!), "I'd like to whisper a sexual fantasy I've had about one of the players to them in confidence" or "I'd like to take part in a masterclass about performing fellatio on a chocolate bar".

Suggestions about "all the men/women perform (x) upon all the women/men" might be good if the gender balance among the players is amenable, though I haven't thought about how you're going to partition them men and women into pairs if it's a pair-based activity other than "every combination of men and women". Suggestions involving some other partition of the group (eg "all the gay players", "all the straight players", damn labels aside...) might work under some circumstances and might not. I like the thought of being able to say "all the players with partners" or "all the players without partners" if there's a game with some couples and some singles, though I'm not sure that this is a game that monogamous couples would play so much.

Perhaps the most fun way to solve the issue would be to say that all suggestions are required to involve all members of the group. I'm looking for some solution which doesn't go as far as "involve all members of the group equally" as that may rule out a few fun possibilities, but which would rule out suggestions which involved two members of the group doing some activity and all the other members watching.
[User Picture]
From:dancingrain
Date:February 5th, 2003 02:15 pm (UTC)

Re: Sorry -- I think the quiz was right.

(Link)
*signs up for masterclass*

I am having too much fun geeking out on the details of this to stop now, so...

It would be fine, I imagine, for rules about naming specific people to be decided game by game. Hmm, an interesting twist on the getting two people to snog could be a sort of narrowing down of options. Ie, first the usual game process is used to approve the suggestion, "I'd like for two of the players to snog... right now!" Then the same process could be used for nominating pairs to snog, but with everyone going into that level of play already accepting the generic possibility of snoggage.

Not so sure that the single red card would be as bad as you are thinking it might. After all, it could be that someone who isn't one of the two named potential snoggers is secretly pining after one of them, and doesn't want to see them snog in public, or something.

I thought for a second about making the exact results of the number of red and black cards played be confidential, but quickly realized that one, that would ruin half the fun of the game in seeing how common the desires are, and two, then what would stop someone lying if they were so inclined. So, scratch that.

I wouldn't entirely discount the potential for the whole group to enjoy an action that only involves a subgroup. Consider, say, if a group of slashy fandom members were playing this game with Dan Radcliffe and Tom Felton, and a snog was suggested and agreed to... There'd be a whole lot of satisfied voyeurs in that room :D.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:February 5th, 2003 07:20 pm (UTC)

Re: Sorry -- I think the quiz was right.

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It would be fine, I imagine, for rules about naming specific people to be decided game by game. Hmm, an interesting twist on the getting two people to snog could be a sort of narrowing down of options. Ie, first the usual game process is used to approve the suggestion, "I'd like for two of the players to snog... right now!" Then the same process could be used for nominating pairs to snog, but with everyone going into that level of play already accepting the generic possibility of snoggage.

Yes, that would work extremely well. It does emphasise the extent to which this game needs to be played well in order for it to be fun, which might unfortunately be quite stressful. In some sense, I like the concept of some sort of style guide accompanying the game; while players discovering for themselves how to play this game well would be fun, players not discovering for themselves how to play this game well wouldn't be fun. That's even making a fairly wild assumption that realising suggestions is a major part of the fun in the game.

What I think would happen - and what I would like to happen - would be for some proposals to be red-carded in one spot only but for people to try a number of similar slightly more modest versions of a nearly-there proposal in order to explicitly identify the sticking-point. Who knows, doing the "just on the right side of the boundary" activity might make the "just on the wrong side of the boundary" activity more palatable in practice. Are there any other anonymous boundary-negotiation techniques that could be used?

I think trying to read the body language involved in playing this game could be a lot of fun.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:February 4th, 2003 07:30 am (UTC)
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Hmm... the game seems a bit, well... complex.

Yeah, I was thinking that. All the great games have a one-sentence description, and the best I can devise for a simplified, bare-bones version of "I'd like to..." is:

"Someone suggests something to do, all players get a chance to anonymously veto the suggestion and if nobody vetoes it then everybody does it."

This game is playable on its own just like that; that's the description of the game that I'd use to try to "sell" it as something fun-sounding to do to the other prospective players. (After all, it's effectively a process that goes on in choice of group activities at the party all the time, just with anonymisation.) I dare say it's possible to come up with a better one, though - suggestions welcome. Indeed, much of the description of the game rules is to deal with the mechanics of the anonymous veto.

Admittedly the three-stage process is a technically-needless extra level of complication, but I think it's a worthwhile one. It's fun to know what other people would like to do some day, even if it turns out that they're not prepared to do it that day in the present company - this provides a partial positive result even if it turns out that this activity is not to occur. When the group finds out that they have a common interest, I think everyone will smile knowingly at each other and be pleasantly surprised. I think the first ("suggestion") stage is a worthwhile complication because it adds some tease, some mystery - a shared sense of "are people really interested in it or are they just saying that because they have been directed to?".

I also think that the three-stage nature would add a level of procedure and a level of ritual to it (excellent, perceptive choice of word, ealuscerwen) that would make the discussion much more fun and the overall experience much more fun than the straightforward "shall we do this or not?" all-action unsubtle nature of the one-veto game.

Quick review: I am happily listening to tracks 25 to 28 followed by 1 to 5 on your CD, in that order, over and over again, but I don't like #5 enough to listen to all twenty versions of it more than once. :-) My favourite bit is the little background run of 16th-16th-8th notes (?) in your Whew! resequencing. It's an odd thing to like and pick up on, but I just think they're somehow a very cool touch indeed.

Right. I suddenly feel a desire to go outside and play in the snow before it melts. Back later.
[User Picture]
From:ealuscerwen
Date:February 3rd, 2003 11:16 pm (UTC)
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That sounds like a really fun game, and one which doesn't necessarily need to end up with an explicitly sexual consensus (which helps). Apart from the purity test, I haven't seen another one which I'd be happy to play with close friends as well as with a partner - they usually involve elaborate dressing rituals, if nothing else.

Do you mind if people actually go ahead and play this game?

Eal.
[User Picture]
From:ealuscerwen
Date:February 3rd, 2003 11:19 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Oh, and I think the two and a half chances would work. People might vote yes first time and then through teasing and laughter, with the right company, end up voting yes again - I don't think that would happen if they really didn't want to do 'x', but I like the potential for humour and persuasion.

[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:February 4th, 2003 09:14 am (UTC)
(Link)
Do you mind if people actually go ahead and play this game?

Not in the least - please, please do. I'm going to be simultaneously vain yet frank in stating that it is an ambition of mine to devise some game which lives for at least ten years and I am convinced this has a better shot at achieving this ambition than anything else I've ever yet done. On the other hand, I don't claim that it's nearly in its perfect form yet and only playtesting will prove whether it's a good game in practice or not. The fact that sexuality is actually completely irrelevant to the gameplay - you could play it with a bunch of drinkers, a bunch of gamers, a bunch of non-specific religious extremists or any other type of group - is a pleasant bonus.

I am completely serious about the Creative Commons license, particularly as this may be the first piece of work I've produced where it may be relevant. In short, non-commercial distribution of the game is permitted as long as you do say where it's from and you don't change any of it - so do please share and enjoy. (In practice, I'd probably rather you waited for the final version of the game, but we're not going to reach that until we actually get to play it.)

A game is only a game if it ever gets played.
[User Picture]
From:dancingrain
Date:February 4th, 2003 01:03 am (UTC)
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video-games-with-vibrators? Word. Too bad I don't know anyone with a playstation.

I like your game. Think it does initially come across as more complicated than it is, but that could be fixed with phrase tweaking. The concept comes through readily enough. I like it quite; I hope people at Nimbus want to play it....

I'd also suggest that the deck be evenly divided into reds and blacks and everyone simply get an equal number of each, with the prerequisite that if, say, each person gets ten of each type of card, then after 10 rounds of the game, all the cards, both played and unplayed, are re-sorted and redistributed. This would preserve anonymity for anyone who had, for example, played a red card every single time, and ensure that everyone always has available a card for both options but does not have to actively request one. Actually, looking back at the game rules, since on every turn each person *must* play both a red and a black, each player needs equal numbers of each color card anyway.

Another sex game, of sorts, is Psychiatrist, when played in proper company. (I've also played Psychiatrist when I was ten, at my birthday party, with my mum officiating, so...) The joy of Psychiatrist is that, since often everyone's confused enough about what's truth and what isn't, with people answering for others who they may or may not know well, and constant seating changes, it's pretty easy to lose track of what's been revealed, unless you're specifically paying attention. There's no penalty if you simply refrain from correcting someone's incorrect assumption about you, which is lower pressure than having to actively come out with a yes or a no for any given question.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:February 4th, 2003 09:18 am (UTC)
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video-games-with-vibrators? Word.

I know. Black card. Big black card. Ace of Spades, even. (Translation: I find it hugely impressive and rather a sexy concept.)

Your suggestion about card distribution is a good one and would cut down on the admin. It's axiomatic that each player must play a red card and a black card each time, the only mystery being which way round they are played and that the only person who knows the order is the player themselves.

I'm not at all familiar with Psychiatrist, but it sounds extremely intriguing. Please would you be so kind as to tell me more about it?
[User Picture]
From:dancingrain
Date:February 4th, 2003 11:46 am (UTC)
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Yeah, the video game thing is just an excellent concept, isn't it? The idea that a person could get off directly from what someone else is doing, while that other person is, essentially, ignoring them... just strikes a good "oh, yeah" button for me somewhere.

I have just realized a potential flaw with the playing two cards thing - it could potentially end up with a person accidentally playing their two cards wrong, say if they placed them in the wrong hands by accident, and then being unable to retract. Which IMHO would be equally bad were they to accidentally actively play a red or a black. I'm not fully sure that particular play-two-cards-each-turn phase is needed, unless its purpose is to make sure a person is not so drunk, etc., that they no longer understand the rules of the game. Will have to think if there's a more error-proof way.

Re Psychiatrist, in one version the very fact that I would tell you the rules would spoil the game for you, at least for your very first turn, in which you would be "The Psychiatrist." But since the earliest chance to explain to you by playing would I guess be Nimbus, and even then one never knows if we'd actually manage to muster a game... Anyway. Essentially, there's a roomful of people and one "Psychiatrist." The P goes out of the room and the rest of the folks decide on a rule to govern the way they answer questions. The P comes back in and asks yes/no questions of the players to try to determine the rule. The rule involves the identities of the players.

The standard "easy" version, which only works once and in a group where at least one person is a game-virgin and can be the Psychiatrist, is that everyone answers questions as if they were the person to their left. The players can sometimes choose to elaborate on their yes/no answer if they want to, but should keep their responses simple. So if John is sitting left of anatsuno, she would answer "yes" to "are you a gay man?" and "no" to "would you ever shag a woman in the future?" (at least, anatsuno would, based on her knowledge of John.) (Also, this answer would tip off a game-virgin Psychiatrist that anatsuno isn't answering for herself.)

Now, suppose that in fact, John *can* envision a scenario where he'd shag a woman (gasp!). If he wants to correct things for anatsuno and any other player (except the P, who is still guessing, and won't know), he can yell 'Psychiatrist!' and everyone switches seats round, and thus, switches who they're answering for.

Clearly the game can be modified a lot from there... Once everyone knows the basic rules of the game, you can create more complicated rules for who answers as what. When I played as a child, we weren't playing as other players, but the "rule" that the Pscyhiatrist was trying to guess to win would be something like "everyone in the room is a different movie star" or "all the boys and girls are answering as if they were the opposite," "every single one of us is Ronald Reagan," etc. It can be quite a fun entirely nonsexualized game for adults, in which the rule for each round can get pretty obscure, so long as there's some overriding and guessable rule. The rule doesn't *have* to depend on the seating arrangement - sometimes having it not depend on seating throws the P off even more, if they're expecting that.

In the sexualized version, where players answer as other players in the room, the Psychiatrist can ask questions including the "have you ever?" variety and the "would you ever?" - the difference from I Never mainly being that the person being asked isn't the person the question applies to, and that the person who it does apply to isn't *obligated* to correct an error if they don't want to. They just don't yell Psychiatrist.
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From:dancingrain
Date:February 4th, 2003 11:47 am (UTC)

cont'd

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The disadvantages to Psychiatrist as a sex game, though, are that it still has those I Never-y vibes, sometimes, and that it can be embarrassing sometimes merely having it aired what someone else *thinks* you have done or might be willing to do. But it's a great parlor game, no props needed except for another room that the P can go into while the players choose the rule for that round. Who is the P can rotate, and the rule can be as challenging as the players are capable of obeying. I've seen it take minutes or in one case an hour (gah) for the Psychiatrist to figure out the rule.
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:February 5th, 2003 02:25 pm (UTC)
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Thinking about it, you probably could do it with people only placing one card each. I'll tell you the reason why I thought of the original two-placement mechanism and you'll see why it doesn't really apply. There is a tradition in some of the oldest private member's clubs that when someone new wants to join they must have the approval of all the current members. Each member is given a white ball and a black ball, the white ball representing assent and the black ball dissent. In turn, each member distributes the white and black balls between a "YES" urn and a "NO" urn - a single black ball in the YES urn or a single white ball in the NO urn representing dissent.

The two-ball nature is so that everyone can see that everyone's using the correct apparatus even though they can't see where the black ball is being placed. Now if you can see people are placing a card but can't see what colour the card is then I suppose you do only need to place one card. I have a feeling that there is some other security element to the procedure that I've forgotten, but can't remember the details off-hand.

Thanks for sharing the rules of Psychiatrist - sounds fascinating. I'm familiar with games like Eleusis and Zendo which are based on similar patterns of "work out the secret rule" inference and deduction, but using abstract pieces (playing cards, plastic pyramids and so forth...) without this personal twist - which I do agree would be a lot of fun. Rather conceptual for a ten-year-old's birthday party, so well done for holding a party full of sparks sufficiently bright to appreciate it.
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From:dancingrain
Date:February 5th, 2003 03:26 pm (UTC)
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I suppose the potential added security feature to the white ball/black ball white urn/black urn thing is that, should there be a dispute after the votes are tallied, one *could* do a count of all the negative votes, ie, the balls *not* voted with, and see if there's a mismatch. But that's really only relevant if you suspect potential foul play with the active votes.

I suppose a security feature could also be that you don't want the hand of cards someone is holding to give them away, particularly if it turns out, say, that they have been red-carding every suggestion and so you can trace back which suggestions they personally weren't into. So there is some good behind having everyone always have an evenly balanced hand.

On different note, I'm now imagining the possibilitites for a version of this game to be played in well-trusted company, with a lazy susan in the center of the table instead of a plate. People put cards down to answer a question (or perhaps even write answers on small slips of paper to be held down to the lazy susan with uniform-appearance paperweights), the lazy susan is spun, and everyone picks up the paperweight that is closest to them and looks at the answer. Then the point is to guess whose answer it is, or to ask yes/no questions of other members of the group, to try to determine whose answer you're holding.

Obviously, a version that can only be played when everyone is comfortable revealing the answers to the given question, so some consent mechanism per question is needed there, and one probably could be adapted from the basic I'd Like To process.

Re the playing Psychiatrist at age 10, if you'd ever met my family, or my childhood friends, this would not surprise you. Proudly raised by and with complete geeks. My mum invented a lot of the games we played at my birthday parties (not Psychiatrist, obv.), which is one of the reasons this whole discussion is so captivating to me.
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:February 5th, 2003 06:48 pm (UTC)
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The problem with writing things down is that handwriting is normally pretty identifiable, which is why I'd like to keep things at the level of indistinguishable white or black balls - or as a convenient household alternative, red or black playing cards. I definitely think you're onto something, though, and a lazy susan would be a spectacularly cool component to use in a game some day. (I note that deluxe Scrabble boards use a similar principle so that every player can look at them as being "up".)

Yay for your family and friends! :-) (Is your mum on LJ?) If you're interested, I do come from a game design tradition. Between late 1996 and about 2000, I wrote a section of a postal games fanzine (a sub-fanzine, or - conventionally - a "subzine") which had games of my own invention in as well as personal chat.

Not sure it ("Games In Testing", almost always known as GIT) really stands up on its own merit these days except as a matter of historical record, mainly because there are an awful lot of references which will mean nothing unless you saw the fanzine in which it came - and probably about four or five other fanzines of the day as well for context. However, if you want to see what we game geeks used to do before LiveJournal then do dive right in:

http://www.dickson.demon.co.uk/GIT/

There are some interesting ideas in there, a few fairly wacky stunts, some gags which still appeal and a handful of the articles still come vaguely close to hitting the mark, albeit fairly obviously from an angry young man's perspective. If I can be as happy in six years' time with what I've been producing recently then I'll regard it as a reasonably good result.

Conversely, I'd love to know much more about the games that your mother invented!
From:queerasjohn
Date:February 7th, 2003 02:59 pm (UTC)
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Now, suppose that in fact, John *can* envision a scenario where he'd shag a woman (gasp!)

Now you're just getting ridiculous. :D

*grin* Actually, I hate "never". That's one of the appeals of "I have never" -- it's a purely historical thing.

*wants to play "I'd like to", lots!*
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From:dancingrain
Date:February 7th, 2003 03:28 pm (UTC)

Re:

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*untangles*

We are *so* adding "I'd Like To" to the list of Mandatory Nimbus Activities. So far, the only other item is "Karaoke." And I suspect Morri might want to make "Mass Snoggage" a third.
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From:hermorrine
Date:February 7th, 2003 03:34 pm (UTC)
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*wants to play "I'd like to", lots!*

I think we should definitely find time for it during Morri!Weekend.
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From:beingjdc
Date:February 4th, 2003 05:25 am (UTC)
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> Are there any other sex games like it?

I quite like playing ShagKillMarry - fiendishly simple, yet so hard to play well.

Er, players take it in turns to name three individuals, and the other players have to state which they would shag, which kill, and which marry...

Sometimes it's easy - Tony Blair, Charles Kennedy, Ian Duncan-Smith.
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:February 4th, 2003 09:22 am (UTC)
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Sounds like fun. Not much of a game, perhaps, but should promote some good discussions in the right company.

By comparison, see also the wonderfully-named Zobmondo!!, a game whose premise is based around "Would you rather do (unpleasant activity A) or (unpleasant activity B)?" questions. I am not making this up.

Maybe "I'd like to..." needs an exciting name like Zobmondo!!.
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From:dancingrain
Date:February 4th, 2003 12:00 pm (UTC)
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*imagines a group of, say, Tibetan monks trying to play*

"no-one, no-one, and no-one..."

LOL.

(apologies to Chris for my spammage of his journal of late)
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:February 5th, 2003 02:07 pm (UTC)
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If it were Tibetan monks playing, then they'd end up having to indicate other members of the group due to their lack of external reference. So it'd be "him (points), him (points) and him (points)".

Having lit this blue touchpaper, retire a loooooooong way. Preferably all the way out of Tibet.

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