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21 February 2009 @ 05:12 pm
Apples to Apples (not about New Zealand)  
There's a game called "Apples to Apples." It's popular at parties. One player flips over a card with an adjective (example: "ominous"). Each person has a hand with noun cards, including simple or vague nouns (think "snow" or "building"), more specific nouns, and proper nouns ("Darth Vader", "Michael Jackson"). Each player who didn't flip over the adjective then puts down a noun card, and the person who flipped the adjective chooses which one is best. So if you started with the adjective "creepy", and the other players put down "bunnies", "Mick Jagger", and "cheese", you might see "bunnies" being chosen by some people, "Mick Jagger" by others, and "cheese" by only a few fairly contrary players, or those who care more about meter than meaning. Though granted, "creepy cheese" has good meter.

The challenge of the game is to have a good idea of what kind of things a given player chooses. Some have a love of contrary or surrealist combinations, some like simple, likely combinations, some go for various kinds of funny. It's hard to be sure you'll win a given hand, but over time the player who wins will be the one with the best empathic read of his or her fellow players, modified by things like drawing interesting cards. There's some luck to it, but less than there appears to be.

So when I say "the best empathic read", I specifically mean "knows what they'll find entertaining," which is the definition of the game. So you'd expect people who suck at Apples to Apples to also be prone to things like, say, telling everybody they meet about how cool "Star Trek" was, regardless of whether they'd like Star Trek at all. Or describing their fishing trip in tremendous detail to non-fishermen. Or talking about professional bowling in a room containing people. I haven't played enough to be sure this is true, but it correlates reasonably with my limited experience, and makes a lot of sense on the face of it.

Amusing datapoint du jour: I really, really suck at "Apples to Apples".
Shalyndrashalyndra on February 22nd, 2009 01:27 am (UTC)
The last time I played Apples to Apples, everyone in the room but me was like you describe in that last paragraph. First time I've lost every round.
Noahangelbob on February 22nd, 2009 03:28 am (UTC)
Weird. Maybe because it was hard for you to predict what they'd find interesting? No clue.
Shalyndrashalyndra on February 22nd, 2009 04:34 am (UTC)
Well, I've tended to pick ones that I thought were the most funny- nouns that were nearly the opposite of the adjective, nouns that were the most out of left field, etc. etc., but this particular set of people always picked nouns that were very literally as close to the adjective as they could get. They're mostly Trekkies, geeks of various flavors, and otherwise asocial sorts of folks.
vito_excalibur on February 22nd, 2009 06:02 am (UTC)
Or talking about professional bowling in a room containing people.

*cracks up*
Jonathanmemeatron on February 22nd, 2009 04:02 pm (UTC)
You can be good at Apples to Apples...
Mo, whom you may or may not have met in an Austin visit, is phenomenally good at Apples to Apples. She consistently scores 4 to 5 times better than the other players. It's really quite impressive.

What does she do for a living? Write applications for federal grants. Is there skill overlap? Perhaps.