Group Game – Observe and Report

Miscellaneous Playing Cards
Image by incurable_hippie via Flickr


Observers try to guess the rules to a game that unknown to them has no rules.


A deck of cards (or something similar to a random nature)

Number of players:

2-4 ‘actors’, infinite players

How to play:

The actors start playing a game, inviting others to join but saying that they should watch the game because they don’t want to restart what they have already.

The actors start laying down a number of cards from their hand saying things like ‘you played a 3 so I must remove my queen from play’ or ‘you played 1 card so I’ll have to play 4’.

The actors could also invite an observer over and give them some strategies (making sure the other actors here though) like ‘if I place down this 2 and jack then they will be at a disadvantage’ or ‘now that I placed down a ace I’ll be able to draw 5 cards’.

To further the confusion the cards can be placed down on top of other cards, next to, turned, upside down, picked back up again, and any other variations.  Be sure the actors are reasonably consistent.

The observers should take notes for two reasons: 1. It makes them pay more attention, and 2. It could serve as a debriefing tool (when did the non rule play become apparent).

The game ends when the observers realize that there are no rules.

Debriefing topics:

At what specific point did you become suspicious about the game not being a true card game?

How did you feel having the meta-rules shift so?

What is the importance of consistency?


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