Social Online Games

Posted by: Rea Maor In: Social Networks - Saturday, May 3rd, 2008

The more things change, the more they stay the same. We’ve come all the way from IRC chat and Bulletin Board Systems to Twitter and Social News Sites. Which means that after 20 years of booming technology progress, people are still amusing each other primarily by… sending each other strings of text. Big deal! We were doing that back on Gopher, kiddies!

So, here’s some games you can play with anybody, anywhere, using only your communication. Some are classics and some are new twists. Just to get it out of the way, none of them are trivia!

20 Questions

So you’ll probably groan at this as much as you would trivia. But you pick something and everybody gets 20 questions to figure out what it is, using only questions that can be answered ‘yes’ and ‘no’. “Animal, vegetable, or mineral?” is usually given from the start. An oldie classic, but it still works in any chat room or comment thread.

Birthday Paradox

The famous birthday paradox has it that in any group of 23 or more people, odds are better than 50% that two of them have the same birthday. Now, what social hub has fewer than 23 people? So you should all be able to start naming birthdays, and quickly find your birthday twin. Easiest to do on Twitter. At the very least, you can compare notes with your birthday twin and prove that astrology is bunk.

Porn Scavenger Hunt

I have no idea who said it first, but: there is a dirty picture on the Internet for any random word. So the leader names something, and the group has to search the web for porn with that concept included in the title or image. First one to post the link wins that round. Yes, there is “golf club porn”, “walrus porn”, and “loaf of bread porn” out there. You’ll have to try much harder than that to make it interesting!

Monty Python Sketches

Every now and then, you can join a chat room and ask, “Is this the right room for an argument?” and get the right response back, “I told you once!” Then you’re nicely set up for a full recital of The Argument Sketch. Most of the classic Python sketches require only two people anyway. Most people will know what’s going on if they see you doing it in a public chat, and the rest will be even more entertaining as they try to figure out what the heck is going on.

Fibonacci Sequence

This works with other math sequences, as well. Fibonacci numbers just have you add the last two numbers together to make the next number. 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21… See how high you can go. I know this sounds pointless, and you’re going “people actually do this for fun?” Yeah, the Reddit thread broke F(1000). For fun.

Troll Torture

This works with (a) a forum such as a social news site where some idiot is doing the trolling, and (b) a chat channel where all six of you (or more) are hooked up without the troll’s knowledge, and you’re also all members of the forum. Give the troll a dose of their own medicine by messing with their reality. All of you can jump in and pretend to agree with everything he says for a few rounds. Vote him up. Take turns responding to his long rants with one-word replies. Flash mob him everywhere he goes. Remember, he’s looking for a fight, anyway. Did you know a pack of jackals can drive away a lion?


So, first, get one of those throw-away email accounts. Now the leader sends a rule to that account, so it’s there already. Now the other players all send text messages to the leader, and the leader responds with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ depending on if the text message complies with or breaks the rule! First one to figure out the rule wins. When everybody gives up, give them the throwaway email inbox name (these need no password) so they can all go and check the rule. Sample rules would be “No sentences longer than five words.”, “No vowels.”, “Every third word must be UPPERCASE.”, and so on.

Why doesn’t trivia work anymore? Search engines are just too darned fast now. It’s difficult to come up with a trivia question that can’t be answered in the first search hit these days.

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