Critical Play: Bluffing, Judging, & Getting Vulnerable

The Game of Things

Creator: Tom Quinn

Platform: Tabletop card-based game, but has recently been converted into a mobile app. 


The game of things is a party game that starts with each player providing a response to a prompt along the lines of “THINGS… that always make you feel better” or “THINGS… you wouldn’t do for all the money in the world.” Then, the players take turns guessing who wrote each response, earning one point for each correct guess. 

I chose this game because it incorporates both bluffing and getting vulnerable: players either respond honestly OR provide an answer to try to deceive the players who are guessing (you earn a point if no one matches you to your response). This is one of my favorite games, and I appreciate its format because it gives players an equally (if not more) viable option if they aren’t comfortable responding truthfully to any given prompt. 

The Game of Things is marketed toward players age 14 and up, which seems about right from my experience. I’ve had heaps of fun playing both with my cousins in high school all the way up to my elderly grandparents, but do think the subtlety and complexity of the game might be lost on those any younger. 

The Formal Elements

The game requires four or more players engaged in multilateral competition and a few easily attainable resources: an expansive deck of prompt cards, small slips of paper for each response, and something for each player to write with. 

To best describe the game, I’ll outline how a typical round plays out. 

    1. One player selects a prompt card and reads it out loud to the group—they are the facilitator of this round.
    2. All the other players write down a response on a slip of paper.
      1. At this point, the players can take one of two actions. They can either answer the question truthfully or give a deceptive response that would make it difficult for the other players to match them to their response. 
    3. The facilitator collects all the slips of paper, and reads each response aloud. The other players write down the responses to better keep track. 
      1. Deception also occurs while the cards are being read aloud. Laugh really hard at one of the responses? That probably means it wasn’t you who wrote it. Or maybe that’s exactly what you want everyone else to think?? Or maybe you instead ask for the facilitator to repeat the card. That also probably means it wasn’t you that wrote it. Unless?
        1. To this end, I love how in this game deception can happen at any and every stage, both consciously and subconsciously. This means that while in the magic circle, everyone is having a great time, but is nevertheless constantly engaged in a battle of wits and deception. Even moments of laughter can give rise to suspicion. 
    4. The player to the left of the facilitator guesses who said what. They try to match one response to one player, and if they do so, get a point and continue guessing. If they get it wrong, the player to their left now has a chance to continue guessing.
      1. As the round progresses and more and more players are matched to their response, the game actually gets easier, since clever players will be keeping track of who guessed what and will gain information on who didn’t write a particular response. Due to this element of the game, all the players must be continuously engaged and following along. 
    5. Repeat steps 1-4 as desired. I’m not actually sure when or how the game is supposed to end. Generally, the outcome is more about the laughs along the way rather than the ultimate winner. In other words, it’s not at all disappointing if you don’t win—it’s just satisfying when you do. 

Closing Thoughts

This game definitely facilitates fellowship, expression, and a dash of challenge (it can become logistically challenging to keep track of who said what and reading body language and reactions for extra clues). Unlike many other games in it’s genre, it will never lose it’s charm. The prompts and responses in Cards against Humanity, for example, will lose their novelty after enough playthroughs. The Game of Things, on the other hand, is infinitely replayable because the responses are organic, even if you’re always playing with the same group of people. If I were at all to improve this game, it would be by introducing a more satisfying way to end it.


About the author

Game night enthusiast!

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