Games People Play: Negative Twenty Questions and I Think But Don’t Know

11 Apr

John Wheeler: Developed theory of gravitational collapse and awesome party game.

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

1. I love this description of “Negative Twenty Questions,” which was invented by my fifth favorite theoretical physicist, John Wheeler (who is also credited with coining the term “black hole,” so I guess he was a bit of an overachiever*). It’s a variation of the classic Twenty Questions game, but in this version each of the players thinks of an object independently, instead of agreeing on a shared item. As the questioner asks questions, each player must change her object in order to accommodate the other players’ responses. (via

2. In related news, some of my co-workers and I invented a getting-to-know-you game called “I Think But Don’t Know.” All you do is come up with statements of things you suspect about the other players, but don’t know for sure. You get a point if the subject of your statement validates your guess. Our statements were mostly along the lines of, “I think but don’t know that Elise is good at picking produce” (True), or “I think but don’t know that Hannah is good at putting together Ikea furniture” (False). Fun for a full lunch hour.

Who wants to play?

*Wheeler is also the guy who said this: “Time is nature’s way of keeping everything from happening at once. Space is what prevents everything from happening to me.” Isn’t that so clarifying?


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