The license plate game doesn't work when all the plates are from the same state.
September 30, 2009 12:30 PM   Subscribe

What are some challenging, competitive games two people can play in a car (one being the driver)?

I've agreed to drive my roommate from Hollywood to the Long Beach airport during rush hour, a trip that I'm estimating will take between 45 minutes and 2 hours.

What games can we play that will make the trip more bearable? Most "car games" seem to be for long road trips; hopefully this trip won't last quite that long.

Looking specifically for games to play while:

- sitting in traffic
- stopped at a red light
- driving on surface streets
- driving on the highway
posted by hamsterdam to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (28 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
We usually play the memory game: Pick a category (ex. animals) and name as many as you can, repeating the whole list before adding one. Like so:

person1: alligator
person2: alligator, crocodile
person1: alligator, crocodile, cheetah
...and so on.

The other one I really like is similar to the first, but it's more structured. Pick a category (we usually do countries/cities, etc.) and the first person names a country, the second person has to add to the list a country that starts with the last letter of the first country mentioned, and so on. It's challenging, especially remembering the whole list, but it's fun. To illustrate:

person1: America
person2: America, Albany
person1: America, Albany, Yugoslavia
...and so on.

Alternately, you could eliminate doing the whole list to make this game go faster. It's harder to keep track of repeats that way, though.
posted by asras at 12:37 PM on September 30, 2009

Play 'Find the Number'

With two people you simply alternate who has to find the next number in the sequence. License plates, address markers, signs etc are all fair game. The sequence is usually just regular ascending numbers starting at 1 but you could pick anything or start on any number.
posted by pixlboi at 1:03 PM on September 30, 2009

Slug bug
posted by doh ray mii at 1:07 PM on September 30, 2009

For years, my brothers and I have played the "Alphabet Game". The goal is to find words outside of the vehicle that start with a, then b, then c, etc.

- Each player starts at "A" and must find a word that begins with that letter.
- Words must be outside of the vehicle and must be called out and called to the attention of the other players. So yeah, car names, words on license plates, any sign or billboard is fair game.
- The word must be seen by the other person (or at least one other person if more than two are playing.)
- When you get to trouble letters like "Q" and "X" the game stagnates and you can make your own rules. Sometimes we decide that the letter must be within the word, or sometimes we'll just skip it.
- First person to get to the letter "Z" is the winner and retains all bragging rights until the next game is played.

It's a lot more fun than it sounds, especially if you're competitive. Usually we'll start strong then hit a patch of highway without signs, and we'll just talk, then out of nowhere someone will yell their word they saw and we start up again.
posted by NoraCharles at 1:11 PM on September 30, 2009

What are some challenging, competitive games two people can play in a car (one being the driver)?

One thing that can make most games more competitive is to wager something on the outcome. Stupid things like guessing what kinds of gas stations will be on the next exit can be fun if there is money on the line and you like gambling.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:13 PM on September 30, 2009

Name that tune. First one to identify the song wins. Works especially well on Satellite radio.

Car Bingo. Setup cards that you need to find different models, makes and colors. First on to get 5 in a row wins.

Not sure what you call it, but my brothers and I would play a game where each person would add a word to a list of words and the next player would have to repeat the string correctly and add another word. Forget one and you are out.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:21 PM on September 30, 2009

License plate acronyms. Bonus points for absurdity.
posted by Acacia at 1:22 PM on September 30, 2009

If driving at night, name the make and model of oncoming cars or cars ahead based on headlight/taillight configuration.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 1:24 PM on September 30, 2009

20 questions, but instead of animal, vegetable, or mineral, pick other categories like "things you'd see on reality television" or "something Dick Cheney would own"
posted by pointystick at 1:24 PM on September 30, 2009

The movie game is always a good one...

Say you start, you pick an actor and a movie they were in... the next player (and this can go around a circle of any number of players) says another actor who was in that movie, and then a different movie they were in.


You: Robert Downey Jr. was in Iron Man...
Friend: ...with Gwyneth Paltrow, who was in Seven...
You: ...with Morgan Freeman, who was in The Shawshank Redemption...

You play like horse, but with m.o.v.i.e. You get a letter if you get one wrong or can't come up with another actor from the stated film. Now if you get a crazy movie and think the person who served it up doesn't know any other actors in the film, you can challenge. If they can name another, you get a letter, if they can't, they get a letter. First to spell out "Movie" loses.
posted by muscat at 1:26 PM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh and a friend recently told me she can't believe I went through adolescence without hearing of "F***, Marry, or Kill" Where one persone names a group of 3 people and the other has to say which you'd have sex with, which one you'd marry, and which one you'd kill. Can be surprisingly entertaining.
posted by pointystick at 1:26 PM on September 30, 2009

Mental tic-tac-toe. The board is numbered as such:

posted by jbickers at 1:41 PM on September 30, 2009

ghost is an awesome game!
posted by gursky at 1:45 PM on September 30, 2009

Another word game. First player names a letter. Second player adds a letter before or after player one's, saying the pair out loud. First player adds another letter to either end of the combination, and so on, always reciting the whole combination so you don't forget where you are. The player who is forced to complete a word loses (words of three letters or less don't count).

Challenges are central to the game. After your opponent has added a letter, you may challenge them to make a word out of the combination. If they can't, you win. Coming up with obscure combinations of letters that you can find in a word but your opponent can't is a winning tactic.
posted by genesta at 1:49 PM on September 30, 2009

ghost is an awesome game!

Well I'll be..... I never knew that was what it was called!
posted by genesta at 1:52 PM on September 30, 2009

Freestyle rap battle! Beats are optional but fun.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:57 PM on September 30, 2009

My favorite car game, but it works best with more than two people is "guess what I'm thinking" or "name that thing"

Person A thinks of something (anything)

Persons B-N guess things, no questions allowed

Person A then decides who was closest, and that person goes. Other people may argue over who was closest as well, which introduces some entertaining logical leaps.

With two people, I imagine this gets pretty rough. I would hope, though that you and your roommate can stand to be in the same space for 45minutes and have an actual conversation if your games fall through!
posted by CharlesV42 at 2:05 PM on September 30, 2009

Along the lines of the previous answers...

Go through the alphabet and each person alternately names (a book, a movie, a celebrity, a politician, a city - depends what category you pick) that begin with each letter. Whoever provides more examples wins that round.

E.g. for the letter D in the celebrity category:

Person1 says David Duchovny,
Person2 says Dame Edna,
Person3 says Dakota Fanning,
Person1 can't come up with anything so they lose.

It sounds simple but you'd be surprised how your mind can freeze up under pressure, even in simple categories. If it's too easy, make it timed (5 seconds per person).
posted by cranberrymonger at 2:29 PM on September 30, 2009

Seconding Jotto. It definitely strains your brain.
Also, we play the six degrees of Johnny Depp. Connect any two movie stars a la Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.
posted by mearls at 3:07 PM on September 30, 2009

The license-plate game my dad made up is good for several hours of crazy competitive fun:

For any given license plate, who can name the most words that fit the following criteria:
  • The first letter on the license plate is the first letter of the word
  • The second and third words on the license plate must occur in the word and they must follow the same order they do on the plate (though there can be other letters inbetween.)
  • No proper nouns etc
For example: WKD
Weekend, walked, wicked, etc

Chicken, chuck, choke, chuckle, chunk, etc

One that drove my dad crazy for a very long time was ABW. Finally he figured out: Assemblywoman. (A-brewin', apparently, doesn't count.)

And there's the geography game, where the first player names a country/city/state/continent/whatever and the next player names another country/city/state/continent/whatever that begins with the last letter of the previous country/city/state/continent/whatever, viz:

YOU: "Alaska"
HIM: "Albany"
YOU: "Ypsilanti"
HIM: "Idaho"
YOU: "Ohanapecosh"
HIM: "Helsinki"
YOU: "Index"
HIM: "...goddamnit!"
posted by Neofelis at 3:29 PM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

Well, it really isn't a game but it can be as challenging and competitive as you want to make it: Do the NY Times Sunday crossword puzzle.

Your roommate can be in control of reading the clues, describing, and filling in the puzzle and you can both provide answers. Granted, your roommate may have a bit of an advantage as the "keeper" of the puzzle, but it can still be fun and it's quite rewarding if you can actually finish it!
posted by ourroute at 5:26 PM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

We did something similar to the geography game on our last road trip, except using first and last initials of musicians/actors/actresses. Pauly Shore --> Samuel L. Jackson --> Julia Roberts --> Rob Thomas --> Toby Maguire --> Molly Ringwald. A one-named person (Cher, Madonna), or someone with the same first and last initial (Robert Redford) just bounced that same letter back to the other person. Kept us highly amused for nearly five hours, trying to outdo each other with the obscure-ness of our names. On the way home we tried it with titles of TV shows and movies, using the first letter of the first and last words of the titles. Brady Bunch --> Boyz n the Hood --> Happy Days --> Dial M for Murder --> Married with Children. Was more of a challenge, but still fun!
posted by globetrotter30 at 5:48 PM on September 30, 2009

20 questions becomes a much more challenging game if you 1) allow unlimited questions and 2) permit the answer to be any noun, including e.g. serotonin, Corinthian columns, or the second amendment. You find yourself constructing an elaborate taxonomy for everything, ever. (By the way, the second amendment was guessed in under 20, but we had a hell of a time with "eyebrow".)
posted by molybdenumblue at 6:51 PM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

I believe I first learned about this game on AskMe, but I don't remember what thread or who suggested it. However, I do remember giggling maniacally since it really appeals to my inner 7th grade boy.

Look at the model name of cars & SUVs and put the word "anal" in front of it and see who gets the best new names. This is awesome with, say, the Ford Probe, Ford Explorer, Lincoln Navigator, Nissan Armada, etc.
posted by tastybrains at 7:44 PM on September 30, 2009

I came in to suggest the same game as molybdenumblue. We've played that on long car trips and with the right group it's great.

IIRC, we spent a four hour car trip playing this in a group of four and went maybe twice around. [Distributor cap, funnel cake, dirt, garlic press were very challenging ones].
posted by chazlarson at 6:40 AM on October 1, 2009

My girlfriend and I used to play a pattern-finding game called "picnic" on roadtrips.

The person who leads the game starts off with saying "I'm going on a picnic, and I'm bringing x, what are you bringing?"

The second person responds by trying to find the 'pattern' of what the lead person is bringing by repeating the sentence and adding something they are going to bring to the picnic. The pattern could be letter based, conceptually based, or any pattern at all.

If the second person is wrong, the lead person responds, "No, you aren't allowed to bring that, I'm going on a picnic and I'm bring y, what are you bringing?"

If the second person guesses the pattern right with some object, thing, etc then the lead person responds "Yes you can bring that, I'm going to also bring z, what else are you bringing?"

The goal being the discovery of the pattern by the second person.

E.g. A game might go like the following:

Person 1: "I'm going on a picnic, and I'm bringing apples, what are you bringing?"
Person 2: "Can I bring my dog?"
Person 1: No, you aren't allowed to bring your dog, I'm going to bring chocolates, what are you bringing?
Person 2: I'm going to take drinks.
Person 1: You can take drinks.

and so on, until person 2 discovers that the 'pattern' is anything ending with the letter 's'. Of course, the pattern could have been anything, like things that are red and green (apples). The game can be fun, as you can make up ridiculous things to bring to the picnic.
posted by ollyollyoxenfree at 10:53 AM on October 1, 2009

You could play verbal Zendo.
posted by mecran01 at 9:49 AM on October 8, 2009

« Older Can I publish other source's recipes on my website...   |   MMS cheaper than SMS? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.