Charades of obscurity

Having “played” dumb-charades (DC for short) competitively at a school and college level, I don’t particularly enjoy playing it casually. I’m prone to getting annoyed when people around me (either on a picnic, or a party) exclaim with great enthusiasm that we should play DC. Till recently I used to think it was like chess – where my enthusiasm for the game has been killed purely because I played it competitively, but now I realize there are more reasons.

The challenge with “competitive” DC is that it is a timed game. You are judged based on how fast you can act out a certain name/place/animal/thing/. Because of this the clues need not be too hard, and there is a fair degree of challenge in acting out even simple things. Apart from this, the clues are set by a neutral third party which means they can all be trusted to be of approximately similar standard, so there is some sort of a level playing field there. Then, you have teams that have practiced well together, and have clues for all the trivial stuff, and you have a game!

With casual DC, there are several problems. Firstly, the games are not timed. Secondly, the teams haven’t practiced together at all, so it takes ages to communicate even straightforward stuff (which is why the games aren’t timed). And then the clues are usually given to you by your competitor. And for some reason, casual DC always has to be movies. No books, no places, no animals, no personalities, nothing.

The f act that the games are not timed, combined with the fact that the clues are given by the competitor, means that the game usually gets into a downward spiral of obscurity. You don’t want your competitor to guess the movie easily, so you give a vague movie. And they reply with something vaguer. And so forth, until teams have to check IMDB to find out if the movies actually exist. By which time all the enthusiasm for the game is lost.

On a recent trip (with colleagues, as part of our CSR initiative. more on that in another post) we played casual DC, and after some 10 clues it had gotten so obscure that nothing was guessable. I’d lost interest when someone suggested we do Kannada movies! Now, that’s something few people would’ve played – DC with Kannada movies as clues, because of which we could give clues while not keeping them too obscure (but it was hard. I completely bulbed trying to act out “Kalasipalya”).

Still, my hatred for casual DC remains, and I try as much as possible to not play it. Maybe next time I’ll impose conditions (like timing, choice of subjects, etc.), and refuse to play if they want to do English movies with infinite time.

4 thoughts on “Charades of obscurity”

  1. I was part of a good dumbC team but adapted decently to the casual charades. These pointers might help
    1) Since there is no prize money involved, the primary goal in a casual charades is to have fun. So, try to keep the movies guessable, but one that will be tricky to mime (eg: striptease šŸ™‚
    2) Establish a penalty for the incredibly annoying ‘mouthing’,splitting and ‘sounds like’ violations. Violations might still happen in the first few rounds, but they will reduce as the game progresses.
    3) Clues from the competitor is a built-in feedback regulator. If used properly, they can keep the game on an even keel. If a team of two is dysfunctional and the team mates are getting edgier, they should be given easy movies and a little encouragement!

    1. no. people see some unseen competitive streak that they want to bring out while playing casual dumbc. So they’ll drive it down to obscurity.

  2. Ah. DC! I remember conducting dumbc for the Symbi intercollegiate fest and was appalled at the standards (most teams were from places above the Vindhyas. Their concept of dumbc was spelling and splitting (stuff that south Indian teams do masterfully on the sly). I realized there was no point trying to shove our snobbish nerdiness on them, because I had gotten so unpopular as the conductor – I was booed out of the stage. All the interesting geeky convoluted stuff I had put together went down the drain. Heart breaking.

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