Games People Play: TabVark

21 Mar

Games People Play is a series where I attempt to make the world a better place by encouraging more game playing.

This edition features an explanation of a game I co-invented called TabVark, which is a social media-enhanced, high-tech twist on the party favorite, Taboo.  I’m pretty sure this game is one of the best games ever, but I’d love to hear what you think if you try it.


Game play: The first step is to set yourself up with the social media tool Aardvark. Aardvark is a simple tool that let’s you ask questions and receive answers from other people, anywhere in the world. You can use it on your iPhone, you can use it with your IM service, or you can just use the website. A typical use of Aardvark might be to ask for some good restaurants in Auckland, New Zealand (let’s say you’re planning a trip there). A local might respond (usually within minutes) with a few recommendations. At least, that’s the intended use of Aardvark. When playing TabVark, you’ll be re-purposing Aardvark for a much more awesome use.

The next thing you need to know is how to play Taboo. In this game, teams compete to get teammates to say a designated “guess word,” providing any kind of clues they want, as long as they don’t say one of the five “taboo words.” An example of a guess word might be “apple,” and related taboo words would be “red,” “pie,” “core,” “cider,” and “fruit.”

OK, so TabVark works like this: Each player needs an Aardvark-enabled device (e.g. a laptop or phone). Players agree on a guess word and and related taboo words, and then set out to compose the perfect taboo-free question that will result in another Aardvark user responding using the guess word. (The other Aardvark users don’t realize they’re part of the game; they’re just answering questions.) The player who is first to compose a question that provokes an answer including the guess word wins the round.

Variations: Double points if you can get two guess words included in an Aardvark answer.

My entry for the "tuba" round. Off-limits: music, instrument, sound, brass, and horn.

Fussiness: This game requires technology devices, but is otherwise pretty simple.

This game is fun for: Wordplay enthusiasts. People who appreciate meta uses of social media. People who don’t mind making a fool of themselves (at least virtually) – for example, in order to win the round with guess word “chafing,” you might have to put forth an embarrassing question to the Aardvark community, such as “Is there anything wrong with wearing underpants for more than three days in a row?” (Try that one; history shows it results in some pretty amazing answers.)

Risk of making someone feel bad: Low. Risk of damaging your online reputation: High.

How to cheat: In TabVark, you can’t really cheat, though you can take the easy way out. For example, by asking, “What rhymes with hoist?” when the guess word is “moist” is taking the low road. TabVark is about being creative, so, in the end, you’re really only cheating yourself.

Benefits of playing: Crazy laughter. New online friends.

Upgrades: Um…Snow Leopard.

Verdict: TabVark is the new hotness.


3 Responses to “Games People Play: TabVark”


  1. Second Blogiversary! « Everybody’s Invited! - November 30, 2010

    […] my count, I played or reviewed 25 Games this year (!), including TabVark, the awesome game I co-created with Kyle, Craig, and Scott. […]

  2. Games People Play: Taboo « Everybody’s Invited! - January 8, 2011

    […] Upgrades: Tabvark. […]

  3. More than Pork and Shellfish: An Interview with Ian Framson, Co-Creator of Taboo Jewish Edition « Everybody’s Invited! - December 17, 2011

    […] a viable business opportunity. Inspired? Yes indeed. Now, I wonder if there’s a market for TabVark… Kosherland is also a […]

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