Lecture Games

Lecture Games
Real
Games To Play, On Paper, During A Lecture
2R60
1994/01/01
How To Wake Yourself Up During A Boring Lecture

Author:
Christopher Thomas

Date:
1994/01/01


Background

There are many occasions, during a lecture, when the brain ceases to accept new information, and refuses to cooperate with your better judgment, e.g.:

Student
"Please listen to this lecture."
Brain
"No."
"Please, it's very important."
"NO."
"Go on, I'll get a good job and earn lots of money...."
"Hmmm, tempting."
"...then I'll be able to pay someone else to do
 everything."
"Aw, Okay then..."

Unfortunately, if you are not schizophrenic, and therefore, cannot have a conversation with your sub-conscious, (see previous example) you will have to find alternative means to wake your brain up, and give it a good kick up the cerebral cortex.

There have been many attempts to formulate new ways of stimulating one's mind in a boring lecture, some less obvious ones being:

  1. Listen to a personal stereo (works well, but blocks out lecturer).
  2. Slapping yourself round the face (better than 1).
  3. Slapping yourself round the face with a wet haddock (better than 2).
  4. Practice Yoga (can annoy others if your humming is too loud).
  5. Attempting to insert a writing implement into a facial orifice (lasting effectiveness and/or scars).
  6. Sticking your head in a bucket of ice water (if you happen to have one in your pocket).
  7. Making love (not recommended in a packed lecture theater).
  8. Sky diving (impractical, unless lecture theater has a high ceiling).

Of course the best solution by far is:

  1. Play a game.

There are many games one can play in a lecture. Games like "I Spy," "Charades," "Basketball," or "Boxing" are usually quite noisy, and can distract the toffee-nosed note-scribbling scum-bag party-poopers who do not wish to play or who are in no need of an increase in brain activity.

A less obtrusive, and altogether quieter form is required.

Observation showed that most students attending lectures will have at least one sheet of paper and a pen. The application of the one on the other is, usually, quite quiet, which then indicated to me that using them was the best course of action.

This led me to compile a list of games which can be played with a pen and paper, between two people (or more in some cases). When you are playing these games, try to play without attracting the attention of the lecturer, or the type of student who will probably complain loudly. There is nothing more embarrassing than the lecturer wandering up, wondering what you are doing not taking notes. They are likely to rant and rave for a bit, pull out a bit more hair, complain that "students in my day didn't do this," then give you and your colleagues lots of work to be handed in the day after tomorrow.

Disclaimer - Don't blame me if you fail your course!

Some of these games are quite well known, easy, self evident, and will not be fully explained. If you don't understand their rules, tough luck. You should not be so thick.

Required Items:

Pen/Pencil
Paper/Parchment
An ounce of intelligence -- erm, two ounces of intelligence

You might need the help of an adult, and here are some I prepared earlier (Har har! I couldn't resist that! Sorry to all non-"Blue Peter" watchers).

NOTE: It is best to view this article using a non-proportionally spaced
      font, since all of the diagrams need a fixed width font to be seen
      properly.

Noughts and Crosses (a.k.a. Tic-Tac-Toe)

Played on a three by three grid, both players take it in turn to place their mark (a nought or a cross) in an attempt to get three in a row.

Setup:

Draw a three by three grid (have you never played this?).

Notes:

Gets boring very quickly (go see the end of the film War Games for an example).

Alphabetic Variation of Noughts and Crosses

Each player takes a turn to place a letter of the alphabet in the three by three grid, in an attempt to make a three letter word.

Setup:

I cannot believe you are actually reading how to set this up!

Notes:

Go first, in the center square, then you will have the first chance to win. 'Q' is a wonderful letter to use if you do not want to give your opponent a chance.

UNIX users:

It is possible to use the 'grep' utility program thing to do a search for all three letter words in the on-line dictionary (assuming you have an on-line dictionary, that is). The command line is:

look x | grep -e '^...$'

Where x is a letter of the alphabet and '^...$' means "search for a word that starts and ends with three letters."

Connect Four

Played on a seven by six grid, each player attempts to drop their counters (a nought or a cross) to form a row of four (or more).

Setup:

Draw eight vertical lines, each six lines deep, to create seven columns.

| | | | | | | |   Counters are 'dropped' down each column,
| | | | | | | |   and cannot go flying (see Y), since there is nothing
| |O|X| |X| | |   beneath to support it.
| |O|O|X|O| | |
|O|X|O|O|X| |Y| < this is a no no
|X|O|X|O|X| | |
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                  Key:
| | | | | | | |   + = X's possible winning moves
|c|+| | | | | |
|b|O|X| |X| | |   All O has to do, is to go in 'a' and force
|a|O|O|X|O| | |   X into going into 'b' and O then wins at 'c'
|O|X|O|O|X| | |
|X|O|X|O|X|+| |   Or alternatively, wait for X to go in 'a' then
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~    O wins at 'b'

Notes:

Try to go for three in a row, with no counter either side (see both +'s), or try to get two rows of three close together so that either row can be used to win (see O's in example).

Squares/Boxes

Players take turns to draw a horizontal or vertical line from one adjacent dot to another in an attempt to complete a square. When a square is drawn, the player writes their initial inside it to 'capture' it, and must then take another go.

The player that makes the most captures, wins the game.

Setup:

Draw a grid of dots, about fifteen by fifteen.

(For clarity, a dot is represented here as a +)

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
|   |   |   |
+ + + + + + + +-+-+-+-+ +-+
|     | |   | |A|A|A|A|   |
+ +-+-+ +-+ + +-+-+-+-+-+ +
| |   |     |
+ + + + +-+-+3+-+-+-+-+-+-+
|   | | | 1 2 |B|B|B|B|       The next player could draw lines 1, 2 and 3
+-+-+ + +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+   to get three squares.
    |   |     |   |     |
+ + +-+-+ +-+ + + + + + + +
          |   |   |   | | |
+ + + + + + + +-+-+-+-+ + +
        |   |         |   |
+ + + +-+-+-+-+ +-+ + + +-+
  |   |       |   |   |   |
+ +-+-+ +-+-+ + + +-+-+-+ +

Notes:

Long 'corridors' of squares can be fun - if you manage to capture them yourself. You can force your opponent to give you the next corridor of squares by sacrificing only two squares (see below). Do this by first ensuring that there are no places where a line can be drawn, without letting your opponent capture a square. Try to then capture the longest corridor on the board. When you have nearly completed that corridor, leave the last two squares for your opponent to capture:

capture the longest    leave last two            pray opponent is dumb..
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+    +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+       +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
|A|A|A|A|A|A|A|        |A|A|A|A|A|A|A|   | <+    |A|A|A|A|A|A|A|B|B|
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+    +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+  |    +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
leave last two         draw next bar here---+    ..enough to go here

This will then force your opponent to draw a line, which should start off the next corridor for you. This procedure is difficult to describe in words, although if you play the game a few times, you can easily get the hang of it.

Tetris

Yes! Now you can experience the thrills of your favorite block game! In this paper version, players take it in turns to draw one of a sequence of Tetris blocks in an attempt to complete a row.

Setup:

Draw a grid about ten by twenty-five, (or larger if you prefer). Each new game, draw the seven Tetris blocks down next to the grid, in a random order.

Player 1 takes the first block in the sequence, and player 2 takes the next, and so on. Any number of people can play, but do not forget, your hawk-eyed lecturer may spot you passing the paper around!

The blocks may be rotated, but not flipped.

A player may not leave a gap, except when it cannot be avoided; if so, the player may place the block anywhere (see below). The winner is the person with the greatest number of lines, when no more blocks may be placed in the grid.

(For clarity, the grid's squares are represented by dots)

..........  ####         Moves in this example:
..........       #       1.Player 1 - ####    6.Player 3 -    #
..........  ##  ###                                           #
..........   ##          2.Player 2 -  #                     ##
..........      #                     ##
........5.   ## ###                   #       7.Player 1 -   ##
......6558  ##                                            #
.77.2.6358               3.Player 3 - #                       #
4472266338  ##  ###                   ##
4472111138  ##  #                      #      8.Player 2 -    #
                                                              #
^^^^^^^^^^^^             4.Player 1 - ##                      #
example game                          ##                      #
                         5.Player 2 -  #      Player 2 gets two lines
                                      ##                          etc..
                                       #

Notes:

If you are unable to place a block without leaving any gaps, you may therefore place it anywhere. Try to stop the next player's potential win, i.e. if you had to place the Square block:

.......... The Square block cannot be placed anywhere without leaving a .......... gap, so placed here (), the next person to have the long bar, *#.#....# will not get three lines.
**###.#.##
.######### Always try to think ahead for a few blocks, to try to position .######### your blocks in such a way as to obstruct, or force your .######### opponents to make their moves.
##########
########## Do not forget! You may block your own lines!
fig 1

.**.......  ..........  Do not be silly and put it here (* fig 2), because
.**.......  ......##..  it would still leave lots of gaps.  Blocks like +
..#.#....#  ..#.#.##..  _cannot_ slide down the side, but if a situation
++###.#.##  ..###.#.*.  as in fig 3 occurs, it can, since the block could
+#########  .####.#**.  fit through the gap and slide into place (* fig 3),
+#########  .#######*#  as in normal Tetris.
.#########  .#########
##########  ##########  However it is your choice, if you want to make
##########  ##########  the game difficult, go right ahead.
fig 2       fig 3

Oxo

Played on a grid, players take it in turns to write either a cross or a nought in an attempt to make the word "OXO"

Setup:

Draw a grid about ten by ten.  Start by writing in a few O's and X's.
When you create an OXO, draw a line through the three squares; this:
          A)  makes it clearer to see which OXOs have been taken, and
          B)  gives greater satisfaction if you are winning!!

(Lines not shown in example below)

..........     ..........     ..........     ..........     ..........
..........     ..........     ..........     ..........     ..........
...O......     ...O......     ...OO.....     ...OO.....     ...OO.....
...O.O....     ...OXO....     ...OXO....     ...OXO....     ...OXO....
....O.....     ....O.....     ....O.....     ....OO....     ..O.OO....
..........     ..........     ..........     ..........     ..........
..........     ..........     ..........     ..........     ..........
..........     ..........     ..........     ..........     ..........
fig 1          fig 2          fig 3          fig 4          fig 5
start game     1st win        2nd win        3rd win        where next?

Notes:

Usually, one OXO will create another, as in the above example, can you see where the next OXO will be created in fig 5? (Yup! There's two.) Keep an eye open for getting two or more OXO's with one move, and of course not creating them for your opponent to take advantage of. When you are near to filling the grid, look out for places to write two noughts with a gap of two spaces between them, i.e.:

##O..O####
########## Whoever goes in the gaps will give away a point. #########O Putting either an X or an O in a gap will let the other player #####O###. win a line, and can be the turning point in a game. ####.####. (see for yourself)
###.#####O
##O####### -WARNING-
########## This usually backfires on me (boo hoo, sympathy needed).

Lecture Bingo

A game for as many who want to play, er, make that, pay attention, to the lecturer to see what he/she does/says.

Setup:

Draw a grid, about three by four (or more if you prefer), large enough for you to write a few words in each. i.e.:

Looks at clock          Says "OK"               Blows nose
Comments about weather  Quotes his book         Says "...if and only if..."
Coughs                  Gets angry at us        Says "Quiet"
etc.                    etc.                    etc.

As the lecture progresses, cross off each square according to the lecturer's actions. You can play for horizontal or vertical rows, corners, a full house, a certain number of squares, or whatever winning combinations you can think of.

Notes:

Write down anything your lecturer is likely to do, to increase your chances of winning. This can be quite easy, especially if your lecturer is the predictable type of person who says "OK" at the end of every sentence, or who constantly raises and lowers the projection screen, or who wears funny shoes, or who has a funny walk, or who constantly refers to the book they have written.

Any cases of ambiguity are disallowed; you should have been more specific.

Bok (magazine version)

Sounding like "clock," it is not strictly a game, it's a practical joke. Well, more a way for two people to get a kick out of annoying others, who do not know what you are doing. I think I got this from a copy of Zero magazine, I'm not sure, so this is from memory:

Setup:

Grab a few pens, pencils, erasers, disks, coins, sweets, pencil sharpeners, etc, and lay them out on the desk. Move them around randomly, jump over one piece with another, rotate them, turn them over, remove them, and after a move, occasionally say "Bok." After about ten moves each, one player concedes, or declares a win.

Notes:

This 'game' drives people crazy, especially when you refuse to explain the rules to them. Do not tell them that there are none. Doing so will spoil their illusion, and your fun. It's the old, old story of "I must be better than you because I know how to play this game and you don't so there thickie!"

Do not be surprised if onlookers offer advice, discuss tactics or tell you to move a piece. Perhaps say "I can't move this here because that piece is there, I can only move here or here, even then I get Bokked." Your opponent should pick up on this, and then Bok you with their next move.

Or, simply move it where they requested, your opponent moves, and knows when to say "Bok." Look round and say "I thought that would be a bad move" or some other witty retort. It really is a 'team' joke.

This game can be also be played in restaurants, using, knives, forks, spoons, salt and pepper shakers, plates, etc.

Be sure to pretend you are thinking, remember, this is supposed to be a strategy game! (Sneaky snigger, chuckle, giggle, guffaw!)

Bok (paper version)

Simply write anything down on paper:

- circles
- stars
- squares
- crosses
- letters

and do the same sorts of things:

- rub them out and draw them somewhere else
- draw arrows from one to another
- say "Bok" every now and then

Even keep some sort of ridiculous scoring system:

- I win a shrubbery!
- You forfeit a dozen plips.
- I earn a wibble.
- You lose a banana.

In short, make your own things up. If some people persist to pester you, tell them to go figure, and find something less boring to do instead.

Conclusion

No, not a game, but an end to this article. Sounds like a good name for a strategy board game doesn't it? No? Oh well, please yourself.

Subtitle: 
Games To Play, On Paper, During A Lecture
Factuality: 
Real
PGG Author: 
Christopher Thomas
PGG Number: 
2R60
PGG Index: 
How To Wake Yourself Up During A Boring Lecture
PGG Date: 
1994/01/01
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