Real College “Networking”: Party Games!

Let’s just face it: we’re nerds.  Math nerds, science nerds, English nerds, but nerds all thrown together for 4 years of “learning”.  And much of that learning will, in fact, happen in the classroom.  But the majority of it will happen outside of the classroom — at parties, in dining halls, group meetings, practices, common rooms, and other non-stodgy academic areas.  If you aren’t spending the majority of your time in these places, you’re doing it wrong.

The people you meet, talk to, and bond with (some call this
“networking”) in those fun-filled places will end up being more important for your future career.  Chances are you’ll end up doing what 80%* of college students do after college: something random that has nothing to do with their major!

So, parties.  Parties can be awkward.  People will be milling around, sticking to the groups they came with, not making overlong eye contact, and waiting for the pizza to get there, after which they’ll eat two slices faster then you ever though possible and leave so fast they leave one of those little cartoon dust-clouds in the shape of their body.

So today we’ll talk about some simple party games to cut back on the awk-factor.  First, a quick list of pre-packaged games that every well-socialized room should have a copy of (or a friend with a copy of): Taboo, Cranium (or “Nerd Crack”), Set, Apples to Apples, a couple decks of cards and if you want to splurge: an N64 with Goldeneye and Mario Kart. Seriously, something about those two bring the best and worst of Crimson competitiveness.  Fun times.

But if you truly want to pull people out of their shells and have them doing some serious bonding, nothing works better than the cheesy old team-building-exercise-’99-type games.  For reals, guys, its not going to be completely easy to talk people into these things, but remember that enthusiasm is contagious and you have an unlimited supply of it.  So pep up and get people into the game, and they will have fun and thank you for it later.

The game is called Mafia.  You are the narrator.  The mafiosi (learned a new plural today? check), 1 doctor and 1 sheriff are chosen randomly and kept a secret; 10 playing cards with 2 aces, 1 king and 1 queen works well. About 2-3 mafiosi for 10 people is a good number. As the narrator, you control the flow of game.  We start at Night, when all the players (or townspeople) shut their eyes and the narrator asks for the mafiosi to (silently) wake up, open their eyes, and chose 1 townsperson to kill.  After they’ve done this (silently) they go back to sleep and the doctor wakes up and chooses someone to save (silently), and go back to sleep.  After that, the sheriff gets to wake up and choose someone who he suspects of being the mafia.  The narrator silently verifies (or falsifies) his choice.  The player killed by the mafia is then announced as dead by the narrator, UNLESS they were saved by the doctor, in which case nothing happens and it becomes the next day.  During the night phases, ambient muzak is good for drowning out sounds of people moving.

Then, it becomes Day and the interesting stuff starts to happen.  Everyone is eyes open and has, well, the information that they have.  The group must accuse and then vote to execute by majority someone they accuse of being a mafioso.  The key thing for players to do at this stage, and this is important, is to lie. Lie hard and lie often.  Lie about the information you have, the information others have, accuse other people, and generally crochet some chaos into the mix.  Or you can play logically and try to eliminate the mafioso, I guess.  But in any case, this is where the cool interaction happens.  People are being accused for no reason, and must defend themselves crazily, accuse others, or stick up for people they’ve newly met.  The doctor and sheriff have some extra information, but who’s gonna believe them, really, unless they convince everyone else they are the doctor or sheriff?   Players who are dead can give no extra information once they are dead.  You, the narrator, should give no extra information.  Actually, what the hell, mess with ‘em if you really want.

When a person has been picked for execution and a majority vote secured, that person is executed and then and only then reveals whether or not they were the mafioso.  If not, they say nothing.  That means that yes, you can kill the doctor or sheriff without realizing it.  The mafiosi win if there is an equal number of mafiosi to townspeople.  The townspeople win by eliminating the mafia.

Simple premise, pretty simple rules, makes for some awesomely fun chaos and getting to know each other.  Questions, comments, played before?  Let us know.  And if you think it sounds fun, share with your Facebook and your Twitter and your sextphones, or whatever you kids are using these days.

PS: You’ll notice this post didn’t mention alcohol.  That’s because we here at HUGS to not condone the evils of the stronger spirits.  Ha!  Just kidding, we’ll talk about drinking games later, when you’re old enough and your parents aren’t looking.

PPS: Extra rules and variants for Mafia herehere, and here.

(*I made this statistic up.)

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