Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Ungame

Yes, I know, I’m behind on my posting. Moving on.

A couple weeks back, I went to the IVCF Leadership Retreat, which was all kinds of awesome. It’s always cool to meet up with people who are very much like you, along with the rapid expansion of your friend circle. And while the main focus of the retreat was to prepare the incoming executive for the year they had ahead of them, we spent a significant amount of times playing games. And while playing UNO like Yu-Gi-Oh is an unique experience and pretending to kill your friends in Mafia is rather disturbing, there is no game quite like The Ungame.

From the name you can guess that this game isn’t really a game. There is no board, no objectives, and no game pieces. Just two piles of cards with random questions on them, and some that allow you to ask another player a question. That’s all. You sit in a circle and answer questions in turn. And the questions, by the way, aren’t regular trivia questions. They’re more like “What is your secret desire?” or “I feel the loneliest when ___” and other personal stuff like that. It may sound pretty boring, until you realize that these little questions bring out some of most unexpected answers from people. The emotional intensity that develops as the game progresses is sometimes too much for some to handle. I played the game with people who I’ve known for a long time, and found out far more about them than in all the time I knew them. I even found out some things about myself. It’s also a game that could get you in a tidy bit of trouble. I like to call it “Jumaji in real life”. It’s fun at first, but you can find yourself in some very deep doo doo while playing it.

The Ungame has rather unique origins. The woman who created it didn’t originally mean for it to be a game. Fearing that a medical procedure would remove her ability to speak, she wrote down some questions that she’d like to ask her husband and children. She was shocked at the revelations that came the first time she played the game, so much that her husband is quoted as saying “I've learned more about all of you in these twenty minutes than in the past five years." The game spread as she began sharing it with neighbors, and soon there was an entire market for the game to be produced.

The thing is, we think that to find the answers to the most complex of problems, we need to ask complex questions. The truth is, all it takes is the simplest of questions to solve the most intricate of puzzles. Questions like “Where do you want to be in 5 years” or “What’s your favorite holiday” may sound cheesy or unimportant, but they can tell you a lot about a person. And, who knows, maybe that person may just waiting for somewhere who they can share something with.

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