The games people play
April 10, 2006 10:29 PM   Subscribe

If you were throwing an international gaming party for, say, 2000 people randomly selected from around the world, what games would you have on hand for people to play?

Poker, Checkers, Chess, Blackjack, and crowssword puzzles are generally popular in the US. Mahjong and Go are stereotypically popular asian games. What other simple board or card games are popular around the world, particularly with a broad age-range of players?

I am not interested in sports, games that must be played on a computer, or games that require extensive training to be able to play (such as D&D).

Assume everyone can speak a common language. I am not actually throwing such a party, I just want to have a more international perspective on recreation.
posted by b1tr0t to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (37 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would suggest Settlers of Catan. Board game with relatively simple rules but complex strategy, and wildly popular in various places around the world.
posted by Justinian at 10:34 PM on April 10, 2006

Not cherades that's for sure.

But Twister is good!
posted by SwingingJohnson1968 at 10:44 PM on April 10, 2006

posted by pompomtom at 10:45 PM on April 10, 2006

Carcassonne won a Game-of-the-Year award in 2001 and has become a favourite of mine.
posted by chrisch at 10:51 PM on April 10, 2006

posted by FearAndLoathingInLJ at 11:06 PM on April 10, 2006

posted by mecran01 at 11:18 PM on April 10, 2006

posted by vacapinta at 11:31 PM on April 10, 2006

Backgammon seems very international, in my humble experience.
posted by scarabic at 11:40 PM on April 10, 2006

Lots of good western games so far, but what about the Middle East, Africa, and India? Mancala can't be the only game the rest of the world enjoys, can it?
posted by b1tr0t at 11:45 PM on April 10, 2006

Chinese Chess
posted by I Love Tacos at 12:00 AM on April 11, 2006

Lots of good western games so far...

Um, dominoes came from China and traveled to the West.
posted by vacapinta at 12:05 AM on April 11, 2006

BridgeBase Online always has thousands of bridge players online at any one time from all over the globe. The community is highly international, including players from the Middle East, India, the Far East and South America. The level of play is fairly high, considering the complexity of the game and the amount of information that has to be exchanged in a brief moment for pick-up partnerships.

The vugraph feature is really nice, where you can kibitz a match played at a real tournament (the hands are "transcribed" in real-time by a human). For first-rate matches it's not unusual for hundreds of players hang out and kibitz.

Bridge has been in danger of dying in recent decades; online bridge has led a revival in the game.
posted by ldenneau at 12:19 AM on April 11, 2006

+ Pachisi (Parcheesi) from India
+ The Egyptian board game, Senet, is believed to have spawned the modern Backgammon-type games. As mentioned above, it's a very international game though it takes on variants and different names in other countries.
+ Carrom is popular across India, Middle East, Asia

More histories of traditional games here. I think what you'll see is that much of the world plays variants of the same games just with different names mainly because they're all descended from a few games.

While doing this research, I learned that Chinese Checkers is neither Chinese nor Checkers!
posted by junesix at 1:47 AM on April 11, 2006

Settlers of Catan.
Puerto Rico.
posted by Malor at 1:53 AM on April 11, 2006

I've seen backgammon, chess, and checkers played all over the world.
posted by k8t at 1:56 AM on April 11, 2006

space invaders
posted by baker dave at 2:06 AM on April 11, 2006

I second Backgammon.
posted by lenny70 at 2:45 AM on April 11, 2006

Uno. Simple and always guaranteed to start a fight.
posted by 543DoublePlay at 3:47 AM on April 11, 2006

Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit
posted by ajbattrick at 4:14 AM on April 11, 2006

sex games maybe the most universal IMHO
posted by zouhair at 5:17 AM on April 11, 2006

How about Go?
posted by gage at 5:18 AM on April 11, 2006

oops. re-read the question and withdraw my comment. (although I've have seen a fair amount of Go placed here in the west...)
posted by gage at 5:20 AM on April 11, 2006

Cathedral. (Use the plastic set instead of the wooden or that other set - the pieces will stay in place better because of the little raised squares on the board & the empty spaces under the pieces)

It takes 20 seconds to learn to play, and as I learned from an 8 year old with ADD, it's super-easy to handicap. Just have the lesser-skilled player assign the order that pieces must be played in for the higher-skilled player. Piece of cake.

I love this game. If anyone wants to play, dmd has created an online flash version. Email me and I'll show you. I'm pretty good at it (I haven't found anyone who can beat me consistently).

It's from NZ so there's the international component for ya.
posted by beth at 5:43 AM on April 11, 2006

Dice. A game as old as civilization itself.
Get some sidewalk chalk and set up an area for hopscotch.
Here's a link to some tile based games from wikipedia
posted by Sara Anne at 7:32 AM on April 11, 2006

posted by zonkout at 7:53 AM on April 11, 2006

or Drinking Jenga depending on your invitees.
posted by Seamus at 7:59 AM on April 11, 2006

Othello, apparently it takes about 60 seconds to learn but a veritable lifetime to master.
posted by cloeburner at 8:28 AM on April 11, 2006

Definitely not Taboo.
posted by nyterrant at 8:52 AM on April 11, 2006

Cat's Cradle is about as close as we come to a universal non-sports game.
posted by Nelson at 10:16 AM on April 11, 2006

This sounds like the perfect opportunity for Eat Poop You Cat.
posted by billtron at 10:19 AM on April 11, 2006

posted by Sallysings at 11:12 AM on April 11, 2006

I would think that games that have a cultural bias, or take a long time to explain, would be right out. So, sorry, Chess/Shogi/Senet are out. So is "Sorry," and this may come as a surprise but this also means RoShamBo/ JanKenPon/ RockPaperScissors.

Parlour games like "Bang!," Werewolf/Mafia and Charades, where clear communication or subtext is essential, it also right out. I think you will have to assume that your 2000 globe-trotters will not have a single language in common (but let's assume they're all literate and you can print rules in languages that everyone can read).

If I were you, I'd look closely at the games played in Europe, because game publishers there have to overcome the problem of a plethora of languages in their market, so they tend to shun printing games that require any words.
posted by Mozai at 2:03 PM on April 11, 2006

Oh, and I'd say "no" to Mancala / Bantumi / Awari , because it's been solved.
posted by Mozai at 2:04 PM on April 11, 2006

When I roll 4,5,6, I yell Cee Lo!
posted by roboto at 4:34 PM on April 11, 2006

Mozai, he said 'assume everyone can speak a common language'. If you want to change the rules, that's fine, but changing the assumptions and then criticizing other suggestions is pretty poor form.
posted by Malor at 10:26 PM on April 11, 2006

normally AxMe is all about precision answers, but my question was general to begin with (perhaps more so than it appears).

The two things that surprise me are:
1. I'm familiar with most of the games suggested
2. It seems like "foreign" games have already been absorbed by western culture

Either that, or gaming is still a vast, untapped cultural frontier.
posted by b1tr0t at 2:56 AM on April 12, 2006

he said 'assume everyone can speak a common language'.

whoops; must remember to read below the <hr> I stand by my objection to charades, because it (like trivia quizzes) is often culture-specific.
I'll throw my lot in with the simple games of chance (dice, RoShamBo/JanKenPon, mahjongg/rummy) and the abstract strategy games (reversi, cathedral, go).
posted by Mozai at 9:41 AM on April 20, 2006

« Older Why is it called /etc?   |   How to get lipstick and scuba mask staining off of... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.