Game: 2 Truths and a Lie
Creator: n/a, folk game
Types of fun: fellowship, expression, challenge. The game mostly only fulfills fellowship and expression, with only minor elements of competition involved in trying to guess other people’s lies as quickly as possible. In terms of formal elements, the game has no resources, and the outcomes are fairly fixed: everyone will share the same three statements followed by a guessing period. The objective is to make the other players guess wrongly as many times as possible (up to twice, for three statements).
In this game, the mechanic of players guessing each other players lie creates a dynamic where players are incentivized to say the most improbable or unusual things about themselves so that it will appear that they are lying. this means more personal info is shared than might be otherwise, creating a stronger aesthetic of fellowship than if people just shared random facts. The dynamics involved in the game itself are also combined with background social dynamics which affect the gameplay. As the game is often used to meet new people or as an icebreaker, people are already incentivized to make themselves seem interesting or likable, and this affects a lot how people play the game, perhaps more so than the actual rules. I think this is a feature of the icebreaker category overall: no objective set by the game will actually take priority over existing social objectives, and game mechanics might only be adhered to as log as they fulfill the non-game social goals. 2 truths and a lie adheres to this idea well by setting up its mechanics in a way that is complementary to achieving social outcomes, making it a good icebreaker. mechanically, it also works well because group size is highly variable, and rounds can be really quick.
2 truths and a lie can also be considered though the idea of intimacy curves. As an icebreaker, we want to be increasing social connection between players, but we don’t want to assume any level of familiarity or require anyone to share anything that’s too personal. I think that this game does a really good job at staying at the very bottom of the intimacy curve while also including the sharing of personal details. there are no prompts or questions, so everyone has full control over the facts they share. players also have very limited interactional ability: other players guess which of your facts are true, but don’t ask questions, discuss, or otherwise insert themselves into each others lives. This system lets the sharing of personal info be really contained and limited: someone could share an intimate detail if they wanted, but nobody would ever feel any pressure to do so. This means that players can move up the curve and get to know each other better, but there isn’t really going to be any abuse, except entirely outside the bounds of the game mechanics.
One moment of success when playing was when the game was able to spark a longer conversation after someone gave an interesting lie about a time they failed the exam. This moment was a good example of how the dynamics surrounding good truths/lies to tell create interpersonal connection. A failure during our game was that it was very awkward at the beginning while thinking of things to say: we all spent a long time sitting there in silence before we could start.
In terms of changes to fix this failure, I think the extremely freeform nature can sometimes be a detriment to the game: you’d like an icebreaker to be a really quick experience, so spending too long coming up with ideas takes away from the experience. I think something like choosing themes in order to make it easier to come up with statements and thus start the game might be an improvement.