Play's The Thing: Storytelling Games
Stories and Games are a good pairing. Games by their nature try to stimulate our imaginations. Story gives them form and substance. Following are Games and Resources on Storytelling Games and Improvisational Storytelling; Card Games, Board Games, and Role-Playing.
Games without Equipment:
- Fortunately and Fortunately, Unfortunately The story proceeds around the circle, a sentence at a time, each beginning with either "Fortunately ..."; or alternating between "Fortunately ..." and "Unfortunately ...". The objective is to keep the story going to a satisfactory conclusion.
- Cast of Thousands: A story starter - great for writing or telling. Come up with a list of 10 each of settings, heroes, villains, problems and solutions. Either beforehand, or better from the group. They can get very creative - heroes can be anywhere from Wonder Woman to a chicken. etc. Number each group from 1-0 (zero as the "ten"). Then the players generate some five digit numbers - phone numbers, etc. and applies these the chart. Lots of fun with many possibilities!
Another approach could be to have strips of paper in several colors (for characters, settings, situations) and have each of the players write on them suggestions for each category. Mix the strips and have each player draw one of each color (excluding their own contributions) and proceed to tell a story from the drawn strips.
- Improvisational and participational storytelling
The art of improvisational storytelling is one that true storytellers need to cultivate and frequently practice. When I have told Improv stories - they have often been the highlight of the program. I suspect it is because all telling is a partnership between tale teller and tale listener, and people love to participate. I suspect that the masters of storytelling all have learned this art - of involving their listeners in the creation of a tale. A seminar I attended suggested some basic rules:
- Solicite from the audience some basic elements - a Character, a Place, a Mission.
- Then begin telling, from time to time (frequently) pausing to allow the audience to add suggestions - objects, places, characters etc. to the story. Once you accept something from the audience - it must continue as part of the story.
- Draw on all the senses with your narration. Describe the scenes. Let feelings flow from your characters.
- As you build your tale, keeping in mind the elements of a story and its unfolding plot, always pushing towards "danger", or building tension into the tale. Here knowledge of folklore and traditional stories comes in very handy.
- Be imaginative and creative - go for surprises and unusual twists.
- Finally bring the story to an appropriate climax and conclusion. (Usually the re-incorporating the earlier events, objects, places and characters will give you a direction in which to go. This is the hardest part - getting out of the story, once you have gotten into it - it is also the element that makes Improv telling so much fun!)
Here are some more links for Impro games ideas:
- Impro for Storytellers by Keith Johnstone
We all are familiar with Theatersports - at least from the TV shows "Whose Line Is It Anyway?." Once we shake ourselves lose from our own inhibitions, there are all sorts of games than can stimulate the creation of characters, plots, etc - often the real game is to turn all this madness into a real "story.".Impro For Storytellers is chock full of imaginative games. Johnstone paces the book with wonderful stories of how the games have been used under all sorts of circumstances, with a brilliant and dry sense of wit.
- Storytelling Games : Creative Activities for Language, Communication, and Composition Across the Curriculum by Doug Lipman Paperback: 192 pages Publisher: (1994)
Using Storytelling games to help students master communication, learn about language, and practice thinking skills with the expert guidance of professional storyteller and educator Doug Lipman. Storytelling games are a fun and exciting way to explore places, periods, and peoples, and even to practice math and science. The author provides step-by-step methods for adapting and using the story games to meet the needs of specific groups. He explains how to teach each game, control the group without decreasing energy, and even how to get reluctant players to contribute.
- Once Upon a Time by Atlas Games (also available in Spanish and Italian). -- A review
Once Upon a Time is a game in which the players create a story together, using cards that show typical elements from fairy tales. One player is the Storyteller, and creates a story using the ingredients on her cards. She tries to guide the plot towards her own ending. The other players try to use cards to interrupt her and become the new Storyteller. The winner is the first player to play out all her cards and end with her Happy Ever After card. The second edition of Once Upon a Time is available now. It features a full-color format, beautiful new art, an extended card set, high-quality linen-finish cards, and blank cards to script your own endings.
(Includes 112 Once Upon A Time cards, 56 Happily Ever After cards, and complete rules of play)
An expansion became available in 2004, Once Upon a Time: Dark Tales This set of 56 additional cards, to be added to the first set, provides new story elements and endings. In these stories, trolls lurk under every footbridge, inconsolable wraiths search for their lost loves, fiends tempt the innocent, and evil stepmothers serve up children in tasty stews. Not every fairy tale has a happy ending!
- The Storytellers Game by Live Oak Games. What happens when you get together with friends and you each contribute to the same story? At the start of the game, each player has a hat, 5 craft cards, and 3 bravo chips. The first player randomly selects one of the 53 included storylines, and reads it out loud. That's the start of your story. Now each player makes their own addition. Once everyone has added something, the first player gives a recitation of the story so far - and then the game continues. The Craft Cards describe elements of the Storyteller Craft. Whenever anyone (including yourself) incorporates the element on one of your cards, that card goes in your hat. Whenever you want to say "Bravo" to someone, toss one of your Bravo chips into their hat. Each one is worth three points at the end of the game. At the end of the game, you're also going to be handing out awards - most hilarious, most dramatic, most creative, most surprising. That's where the big points are. What happens if things get out of line? Well, that's what the Heckle Cards are for. They're a nice friendly way of saying "Enough Already!"
- Oh-Cards has a variety of sets of Cards that can be used to inspire stories. These decks which can be combined and used in all sorts of ways.:
There are all sorts of activities one can do with these cards, largely depending on the numbers of participants. Form small groups. Put some cards face down on the table. First person turns one up and begins to tell a story incorporating the picture. When they feel they have told enough, the next person turns up the next card, lays it along side the first and continues the same story but incorporating the new picture. And so on. It works amazingly well, largely due perhaps to the quality of the pictures. But this is only one activity. There are lots more and soon you find your own variations.
- Oh (Two decks of 88 cards)
Frame a picture card with a word card and explore the meaning of the set. 7744 different combinations are possible, and many more interpretations. Use alone as a solitaire and together in couples, families or groups.
- Saga 55 picture cards painted by Ely Raman depicting characters, scenes and objects from a land that never was and always is. Each card is a springboard into a familiar myth or fairy tale, or into a story that has never been told before. The images invite you to travel, with or without a child, into the world of story, fantasy, dreams and magic.
- Mythos 55 paintings portraying details and scenes from the realm of myth. These images also reflect Ely´s longtime interest in the pictorial representation of archetypes.
- 1001 Artist Andrée Pouliot has created 55 exquisite paintings in card-format depict the wondrous and mythical world of the Orient ahd Scheherezade, rekindling the ancient art of story-telling. Every card is a filigree doorway opening into a roomful of associations.
77 portrait cards plus 33 interaction cards by Ely Raman provide the material for countless roleplays in which the player acts out people from around the globe. Who are these people? What do they do? What do they want? Using PERSONA cards offers an opportunity to meet through play and imagination with people of many cultures.
- THE POWER OF OH: A Path to Growth, Insight,and Appreciation of Self and Others
A 200-page workbook for the OH Cards by Adam Bourgeois complete with 88 b/w small representations of the OH picture cards, extensive bibliography and index. The book has organized into three parts dealing with the OH Cards and the realms of personal discovery, and insights and comments on each individual card, drawing upon myth,fairytales, word histories, and universal symbols.
- Strawberries Beyond My Window A Book about this Unique Genre of Playfull Tools by Waltraud Kirschke investigates the history and background of the associative cards. Each game with its unique theme is described and discussed as well as portrayed within the larger framework of the genre. The book is alive with practical details and examples plus personal reports from a wide variety of card-users, both private and professional, from many different countries and cultures. An incitement to indepth use of the associative cards and an important source of information for all users of any of the titles in this genre.
- Nanofictionary by Looney Laboratories - with 110 wacky cards, played like rummy until each player has gotten a set including a character, setting, problem and resolution - then the storytelling begins. The creativity of these items and the wacky sense of humor (essential in loosening up creative juices) are really wonderful.
Fan Site with descriptions of the cards, rules, etc.
- Story Crafters is an ingenious resource for storytelling, group skits, or creative writing ideas. Eight sample cards are shown below. Each cards is 2" x 3.5" (business card size) and printed in black on colored index card stock. Each set of StoryCrafters cards contains: 22 "Who?" main character cards (yellow) 22 "Where?" location cards (blue) 22 "What?" cards with an object (pink) and 22 "Wild Card" cards with an additional story element (white). The Price is $4!
Thinking Board Games:
Games along the lines of Charades and Pictionary; Baldardash and Beyond ; Trivial Pursuits (in its many versions) and Cranium and Wit's End; Taboo and Outburst and
Mystify and Loaded Questions are intended to exercize our minds. There has a been a boom in these games to enliven social gatherings of adults. There are similar games to exercise our imaginations and our skill as storytellers as well.
FABRICATION by Chuckle Game Co
you have up to 60 seconds, in a continuing story, to tell an outrageously tall tale. You must "work in" the Fabrication Line selected from your game card and try to stump your opponents for points.When time is up, the opposing players may now score by guessing correctly: WHAT was the Fabrication line in your fabricated story. Some lines are real ZINGERS! Stump your
opponents to earn DOUBLE POINTS with the ZINGER line. The player with the most
points is the winner, a great fabricator and knows Fabrication when they hear it!
- Fib or Not by Gather Around Games is the outrageously funny party game where players tell stories, learn funny things about each other - and see what their friends will believe. Just how well do you know your friends, and how well do they know you? Find out in this side-splitting bluffing game where you'll get the scoop . . . or get duped!
Here's how it works. Players take turns telling stories based on provoking subjects they select. But, it's up to the storyteller to decide if they peddle the real deal or cook-up a tall tale. Then everyone secretly votes whether they think the story is a FIB...or NOT. The more friends you bamboozle, the faster you move ahead. You can't begin to imagine some of the crazy true stories you'll hear. And, you'll fall down laughing at the preposterous stories you'll believe.
It's easy! - Anyone can play and it's great for all ages . . .
- Life Stories by TaliCor Inc. The game is played with everyone contributing a story of events, thoughts, hopes and dreams that have happened in their lifetime! And the stories change with each game played.
Life Stories is a great opportunity to learn about Family History and events that would have otherwise been forgotten! Or for building and strengthening Family Ties! From Grandfather right down to young children, everyone can contribute!
TaliCor markets Christian games including Veggie Tales and and Bible Games as well.
- Malarky by Patch Products
If you like bluffing games, like Balderdash, you will love Malarky. It is faster since you don't have to write down the answers, you speak through the answers. The material is much better than Balderdash. Rather than definitions you bluff answers to questions like, "why did pirates wear earrings", or "why are pistachios dyed red". Based on author David Feldman’s best-selling Imponderables® book series. Malarky takes the typical bluffing game to a whole new level of absurd fun!
- Wise and Otherwise
Similar to Balderdash - this game can probably inspire some stories. A creative, interactive game (read: everybody shouting, flailing, laughing) revolves around 500 cards, each emblazoned with five obscure and long-forgotten sayings from around the world. For example, one old Chinese saying is, "Don't add salt to a boatload of salt fish." One side of the card states, "Don't add salt to..." and it is the job of the players to devise probable endings. "Don't add salt to salty soup," for example. Or, "Don't add salt to the open wound." (The actual endings are listed on the flip sides of the cards.) A player wins points when other players vote for his or her special ending, or when the player guesses the actual ending, so the goal is to finish the proverb as convincingly as possible given the geographic region in question. Each elegant box contains one game board, 500 cards, six writing pads, six pencils, one die, and six player pawns. People who love language, oddly hilarious translations, offbeat proverbs, or just making people look foolish by guessing their very clever answers will adore this game.
Role-playing Games (RPG) began with the creation of Dungeon and Dragons, and have proliferated into a vast number of publications designed to create adventures in every conceivable realm of time and space and fantasy. Basically the players each take on a persona of a character in the story, and have particular skills and abilities, they make decisions and act as the game unfolds.. A gamemaster runs the game loosely - guiding the characters through imaginary settings and events and confrontations with non-player characters, and referees the game.. Actions and conflicts are resolved with frequent dice rolling and the use of books full of maps, charts, creatures, and other rules. Since they take place in imaginary worlds, there may be magical and other unreal elements. Because of this, some religious people have labelled the games as "satanic" influences. In some ways, RPG's create or use stories as a framework, but usually the storytelling suffers from the frequent dice rolling and haggling about rules, and games may go on and on without a climax or resolution. Still RPG's have some potential for creating stories especially if they are not overburdened with dice rolling and consulting of the rule books.
Eldrbarry's Group Games Guide includes an index to all sorts of active games - both indoors and outdoors. There is also a page of Resources for Group Games .
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