In which guest writer and Games Club Vice President Linus Glenhaber wants you to genuinely have a good time.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a new student in possession of a group of new friends must be in want of a fun icebreaker. It is also a truth universally acknowledged that someone will inevitably suggest Cards Against Humanity.
Playing Humanity for a while, however, will soon drain you of your own. The shock value wears off, and besides matching part of speech on the cards, there aren’t a ton of choices for the players. “A bag full of dead orphans” is going to be the same level of funny if it’s played on any round, although it’s going to be less funny as you continue (and make your evening in Carman’s basement that much more grating).
If you want to play a game that isn’t terrible but still lets you easily mingle with new people, allow me to suggest…
Codenames is a four (or more) player game played with two teams. One teammate gives clues to their partners about words to guess on a table. 25 words (representing 25 possible code names) are put on the table, and the two “spymasters” can see which words need to be guessed by which team. The first spymaster gives a one-word clue, and says how many words the clue relates to. If the spymaster sees that they have “Root” and “Orange,” they might say “Carrot, 2.” It is up to their team members, then, to look at the board, and see which two clues they think relate to carrots. They make their guess, and the spymaster for the other team gives a clue, going back and forth until one team has guessed all of their words.
While Codenames seems to be about finding the “best” clue, the secret is that… there isn’t one! It’s about figuring out who is on your team and making a clue suited for them. Clues can be as niche or as dumb as you want. (I’ve clued “Oatmeal, 2” for “Food” and “Glue.”) It’s also a great time to start finding inside jokes or shared experiences as well. Do you see “Lion,” “Building,” and “Science” on the board? Try to see how well your partner knows Columbia and say “Pupin Hall, 3” as a clue!
It’s a great game to play with people you just met. The game isn’t too complicated, and there’s enough downtime that you can get to know everyone who you’re playing with. Plus, every game is different, which means it’s pretty replayable. (Again, compare with Humanity, where gameplay routinely comes down to using some version of the word “penis.”) Codenames needs only four people, but can be played with as many as you want. Finally, each round is pretty short, so if someone comes late they don’t need to wait that long—and there’s no problem with anyone joining late either!
Games Club meets Friday nights in Lerner Hall. You can keep up with club activity by joining their Discord server.