Talking games
April 2, 2020 4:30 PM   Subscribe

My friends and I call every day now, and conversation topics have started to get low, so we need some game ideas. Please help me find some two-person games that can be played over the telephone and don’t require any materials!

Please assume that:

  • We don’t have materials other than paper and pencils
  • We can’t rely on holding something up to the screen for the other person to see
  • There are only two people playing
  • We don’t want to figure out how to share our screens to play video games together

  • Games that we’ve already played include:

  • Kiss, Marry, Kill
  • Playing pretend/Coming up with stories together
  • Truth or Dare
  • Twenty Questions
  • Would You Rather
  • Tic, Tac, Toe

  • Posting this question for Li'l Epps.
    posted by Margalo Epps to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (16 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
    1) The yes/no game.

    One person is 'it', and has to converse with the other person WITHOUT using the words YES or NO, or their variants (nope, yep, yeah etc). The other person can lead the conversation, asking questions and try to lead 'it' into saying one of the forbidden words. How long can they carry on the convo without losing?

    Optional, just for fun, hang up on the person when they say one of the forbidden words!!

    Additional difficulty level, no hesitating, or saying any of those "placeholder" words (uhh, ummm... ) to stall.

    2) Ghost
    One player starts by providing a letter that will begin the root of a word. Next player places a letter directly after the first.. then the first player gives another letter, alternating back and forth. The person who ultimately spells a word (using whatever dictionary you agree upon) is the LOSER of the game, but the catch is that every letter placed MUST form the beginning of a word from said dictionary. A player may CHALLENGE when their opponent has placed a letter that they believe makes forming a word impossible... challenging player wins if a word cannot be completed from the letters in play, loses if a word CAN be made.

    VARIANT: Lexicant. Players take turns placing letters EITHER after OR BEFORE the letters/fragment in play, but again must always form a fragment that is part of a correct word. Again, the person who completes the word loses.

    3) But Who's Counting?

    Each player puts five "blanks" on a sheet of paper, each blank representing a digit in what will ultimately be a 5-digit number that each player will have to create. Then, set to draw digits from 0 to 9, one at a time. Once the first digit is drawn, each player writes that digit down where they want it to appear in their 5-digit number (ie in the 1s column, 10s colum, 100s column, etc). Digits cannot be moved once the decision is made as to where they are placed. After 5 digits are drawn, players compare their completed 5 digit numbers, and whoever created the highest one wins.

    VARIANTS: Can be played with longer or shorter numbers (6 digits, 7 digits, 4 digits), or could do one where you create/complete an equation, such as complete 2x three-digit numbers that are later added together or subtracted, multiplied, etc.

    Have fun!!
    posted by wats at 4:48 PM on April 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

    1) If you've ever played the game Mastermind, where you have pegs of different colors in four holes and one person guesses the other one's pattern, you can play that game with numbers. I learned it as Pico Fermi.

    One person picks a four digit number. The other person has to guess the number. On each guess, the giver gives a clue. Pico is the right number in the wrong place; fermi is the right number in the wrong place. So if my secret number was 2526, and you guessed 4567, then I would say "one pico, one fermi," because the 5 is in the right place, and the 6 is right but in the wrong place. You can set a cap at the number of guesses--10 is hard but often doable.

    2) Verbal tennis. This is less a formal game and more a way to drive yourselves nuts; it's from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead. Try to have a conversation that is only questions. No repeats, nothing meaningless, and you have to go fast. So:

    When was the last day of school?
    Don't you remember?
    Why should I have to remember everything?
    Why should I have to do your remembering for you?
    Can't we stop arguing about this?

    It's amazingly hard to keep going without pause.
    posted by gideonfrog at 4:54 PM on April 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

    Battleship can be done all on paper.
    posted by ShooBoo at 5:26 PM on April 2, 2020

    Try Guess My Word only without the computer. You think up a word and your friend has to guess it with you only saying if your word is later or earlier in the alphabet than the legal word (this is important) that your friend says.
    posted by It's Never Lurgi at 5:34 PM on April 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

    ABC games where you have to alternate through the alphabet to name items in a predetermined category that begin with the letter. Whoever takes too long (5 secs or whatever you decide) loses.

    Linking letter games. Same as ABC except instead of the alphabet you have to name something starting with the last letter of the previous item. For instance, if the category is food: banana, apricot, turkey, yam, etc First person to take too long loses

    Kevin Bacon game: Name an actor, next person has to name a movie they've been in and link to another actor, goal is to get to Kevin Bacon. Another variation is to get to Obi Wan Kenobi. But you can always choose the end point.
    posted by acidnova at 5:49 PM on April 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

    On Whose Line is it Anyway, they used to do an alphabet game where players had to have a conversation with each sentence beginning with the next letter of the alphabet. On preview, it’s a variation of an ABC game.
    posted by FencingGal at 5:50 PM on April 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

    A story a word at a time works with two people. One person says the first word of a sentence and the other person says the next word and so on.

    A shorter, simpler version of this game is called hashtag. Essentially you are composing a tweet a word at a time between all participants. When someone thinks the tweet is complete they say the word "hashtag" and the other person gets to summarize or embellish the tweet with a hashtag that can either be a single word of can be a run on series of words a la real hashtags e.g. quarantineismurderonextroverts
    posted by mmascolino at 6:02 PM on April 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

    No More Women seems like it might be fun (it's not as misogynistic as the title might suggest).
    posted by juv3nal at 8:21 PM on April 2, 2020

    I don’t know if it has a name yet, but my favourite word game is this:

    Anne comes across or thinks of an interesting word — 3-4 syllables seems to work well. Say, enchilada.

    Anne says to Bobby, “Hey Bobby, what does enchilada mean?”

    Bobby says, confidently, “An enchilada is a cocktail with tequila and Corona.”

    Anne figures it out, and finds a riposte. “No, that’s a michelada. An enchilada is a small animal, Sonic the Hedgehog’s sidekick.”

    Bobby says, “No, you’re thinking of an echidna. Enchilada is something that a Muslim would say to indicate a certain matter is in God’s hands.”

    And so on...
    posted by sixswitch at 8:51 PM on April 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

    The Minister's cat is fun and pleasantly Victorian and would work well enough with two people!
    posted by LadyNibbler at 9:01 PM on April 2, 2020

    A more cooperative 'game' is to make up fictional reviews... with my partner this game is usually triggered when one of us says a particularly delightful phrase...
    'Ah, yes 'Delightful Phrase', that was a great album...'
    'Yes, although not as funky as their earlier work..what was that track with the flugelhorn solo?'
    'Wasn't that 'Lunchtime in New York'?'
    'Yes! I don't like the lyrics but a friend of mine had that as their first wedding dance....'
    posted by Heloise9 at 11:22 PM on April 2, 2020

    Stinky-pinky: Make up a definition like "smelly little finger" to which the answer is a rhyme, "stinky pinky", the sillier the better.
    posted by Botanizer at 5:25 AM on April 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

    These fall into the category of Parlor Games if you're looking for more.
    Good Night, Gracie is another one of those games like sixswitch listed above. When you reach a point of punting, you say "Good Night, Gracie" and move on to the next word.

    Another variant on the ABC game is called "My Grandmother's Trunk" which is a memory game. Each person takes turns listing what's in your grandmother's trunk starting with A and going through the alphabet.
    On each turn you have to repeat what was in the trunk so far and move on to your letter. For example:
    1. In my grandmother's trunk, I found apples.
    2. In my grandmother's trunk, I found apples and babies.
    3. In my grandmother's trunk, I found apples, babies, and clemency.
    You can also play it running the alphabet backwards.
    posted by plinth at 5:27 AM on April 3, 2020

    Convergence! Start off counting down from 3 together and each say a random word. From then, after every countdown you're trying to converge to say the same word. You can't repeat words that have already been said. Each person should think of an "in-between" meaning, or a word that could apply to both words said in the previous round. Don't think too hard! It's best when the game flows and you think of the first thing that comes to mind.

    A random example:

    (1) mountain / milk
    (2) goat (because mountain goat and goat's milk) / nature (eh, cos both are found in nature)
    (3) animal / animal !!!! (celebrate! this never doesn't feel good)

    A robot dance when you reach convergence is optional but recommended.
    posted by Field Tripper at 6:43 AM on April 3, 2020


    One person starts with a random scenario:
    I was walking my dog down the street the other day.

    The other person adds a sentence:
    Fortunately, the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day.

    First person adds a sentence:
    Unfortunately, I forgot to put pants on and everyone was staring at me.

    Keep alternating between fortunately and unfortunately and see how wild you can get. Might work better with more people/variety but I've done it with one other person and got a severe case of the giggles.
    posted by Twicketface at 7:30 AM on April 3, 2020

    Me and my friends are doing a weekly general knowledge crossword over the phone.
    posted by Balthamos at 1:19 PM on April 3, 2020

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