# A game like arm wrestling, but saferOctober 23, 2010 9:09 PM   Subscribe

I teach a lesson on interpersonal conflict where we used to have the students arm wrestle one another. Unfortunately, arm wrestling is a little too violent. I'm looking for a substitute game.

In the first lesson of a class I teach, I like to pair the students up and have them arm wrestle one another. It wakes everybody up and leads into a great discussion of how approaching an interaction as a conflict dictates how the interaction will proceed. One problem: a collague of mine used this exercise and one student broke another students' arm.

I'm hoping the hive mind can suggest a replacement two-person no-equipment easy-to-explain game that can replace arm wrestling in future classes. Ideally, I'm looking for a game where it would be difficult to win if you were evenly matched, but where it's also possible for one person to dominate if his or her competitor wanted to lay down. I'd also like it if the students could play many rounds of the game in just a few minutes without any risk of broken bones or lawsuits.
posted by eisenkr to Education (18 answers total)

Thumb wrestle.
posted by allthewhile at 9:21 PM on October 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Perhaps thumb-wrestling? Ping-Pong (the math game) might also qualify, though it's not at all physical.

(Ping Pong is where players in the game count out loud quickly from 1, by 1's. But, on every factor of 3, you say "Ping" instead of the number, and on every factor of 5, you say "Pong" instead of the number. If you get to a number that is both a factor of 3 and 5 [e.g., 15], you say "Ping Pong". Losers are those who say a number when they're not supposed to, or say Ping/Pong/PingPong at incorrect times, or who are too slow.)

[On preview: whoops, allthewhile beat me to it!]
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 9:24 PM on October 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

rock paper scissors
posted by bottlebrushtree at 9:29 PM on October 23, 2010 [5 favorites]

Is there a way to shrink tug-of-war to a classroom scale?
posted by Ys at 9:31 PM on October 23, 2010

How about something that doesn't involve physical confrontation or outright violence? I know, personally, I would've felt extremely anxious and bewildered had my teacher suggested I armwrestle/thumbwrestle/otherwise physically fight someone else.

I like the idea of rock, paper, scissors. Perhaps present a situation where people have opposing goals and have the students play-act the roles.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:39 PM on October 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 9:55 PM on October 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

tongue-twisters
posted by facetious at 10:03 PM on October 23, 2010

Prisoner's dilemma.
posted by acoutu at 10:05 PM on October 23, 2010

We played a game at a youth group once when I was a teenager that was designed to show the difference between approaching a situation as every person for him/herself vs cooperating. Each student was given a handful of m&ms. In the first round, we had 5 minutes to grab as many m&ms from other students as we could. At the end of that round, one or two students had all the m&ms and others had none. For the second round, each student was told to give away all his/her m&ms to other students, with the goal of ending up with no m&ms after 5 minutes. Of course, at the end of that round, everyone had some.

If fighting over m&ms could get too physical, you could probably do something similar with balloons and attempting to pop other people's or something like that...
posted by lollusc at 10:11 PM on October 23, 2010

Best answer: Tic Tac Toe. Most people who think about the game for a moment can figure out how to never lose unless they make a mistake, so you can get a constant stalemate unless one side chooses to give in. It's fast, it's easy, everyone knows it, and needs very little in the way of supplies.
posted by Saydur at 10:26 PM on October 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Rock 'Em Sock 'Em
posted by ljesse at 11:18 PM on October 23, 2010

Sorry that was supposed to have a link : Rock 'Em Sock 'Em ROBOTS Game
posted by ljesse at 11:20 PM on October 23, 2010

The improv warm-up game What Are You Doing?
posted by blueberry at 11:51 PM on October 23, 2010

Here's one my mom used: give the kids a treat like a candy bar to divide. The person who divides gets to choose their portion last.
posted by effluvia at 11:53 PM on October 23, 2010

Nim - the loser has to pick up the final card on the last move, making it horribly aggravating and giving great smirking opportunities for the winner.
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:00 AM on October 24, 2010

Best answer: Pair off. Each student has a non-trivial weight in one hand. Starting at the same time, hold the weight at arms length and shoulder height. Longest time held wins.
posted by eccnineten at 7:12 AM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. All great suggestions!
posted by eisenkr at 7:26 AM on October 24, 2010

Without adding a weight, it would be fairer to those with little upper body strength. Just see who can hold their arm out the longest. It gets tough after a minute anyway.
posted by cmgonzalez at 8:06 AM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

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