Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Nine Reasons Why Scattergories is the Most Hateful, Divisive Game in the World UPDATE: (Now With More Angry Pointing!)

While staying at a beach house this past weekend, me and ten of my friends partook in such a heated game of Scattergories that men screamed, women cried, and the very fabric of our friendships was left more frayed than my girlfriend's jeans in 1995. Why? Because Scattergories is evil.

1. There's no rules. Did you know this? Presumably because everyone thinks they know how to play Scattergories, no one ever looks up how to play Scattergories. Which is a good thing, because if they did it wouldn't be much help. The official rules amount to something like 1. Roll the die. 2. Write down answers. 3. Count them up. The only concrete clarifications are:

- Zero points are given for duplicate answers.

- A player cannot use the same word for two different categories in a single round.

- 'A', 'An' & 'The' cannot be used as the start of an answer.

- If the answer is a persons name, then the first or last name can be used.

In other words, go fuck yourself. It's like when you were a kid and you played cops and robbers. The only rules to cops and robbers is that there are some cops and some robbers. Then halfway through the game, you (the robber) are riding away on your make-believe horse, and the policeman catches up to you on his real bicycle and you're like, "A bicycle could never catch a horse!" and your friend is like, "Oh yeah, well then how come I caught you?" and you're like, "Because you're on an actual bike!" and then your friend rides off down the street and the game is over.

All of which means . . .

2. You have to make up the rules. Fact: Rules aren't meant to be created by the masses. That's how Lord of the Flies happened. Even in a representative democracy, laws are drafted by professionals so that we're not all voting on Proposition 1378: Happy endings shall be a mandatory option on all massages costing over $100usd.

Our group tried to tackle the task civilly by going around the table and giving everyone the chance to explain how they play, but it soon became clear that all we were doing was providing a platform for everyone to disagree with how other people play. It was like a town hall meeting on health care reform, except instead of old people screaming about things they don't understand it was young people screaming about things that aren't really worth understanding. Some points up for discussion include:

- Do proper nouns count as duplicates, e.g. Alexander Hamilton and Alexander the Great. Clearly they are two different people (different answers, as it were) but do they cancel each other out since they are the same word?

- Modifiers: creative, or a cheater's bread and butter? Should a person get two points for "excellent eggs"? How about "eggs over easy"? Where does one draw the line between adjective and modifier in a compound noun?

- What level of ridiculousness will be tolerated? For a category like "Things you throw away," almost any answer can be acceptable. Babies, in fact, have been thrown away – but it is something you would throw away? And if your baby was burping, would you get two points?

3. The loudest timer ever. It's like having someone over your shoulder screaming, "GO, GO, DO IT, SO IT, THINK! ALLITERATION, BITCH!"

4. It's political. Without a set of hard and fast rules, voting becomes a popular medium through which people assume a fair and logical conclusion can be made, except, of course, in the cases in which people do not vote for what you think is fair and logical. Vote enough times and you're bound to form alliances with like-minded players. One time a team that had steadfastly voted down outside-the-box answers, suddenly shifted gears and voted for "Optimum online" as a viable answer under the category "Tools." The sudden shift was so shocking that one team labeled it Scattergate.

5. It's subjective. So while one team gets credit for "Optimum online" as a "Tool," my team does not get credit for "lyrics" being an "Instrument" despite the fact that the dictionary defines an instrument as "a means whereby something is achieved, performed, or furthered," and if I asked you to name one song on the Billboard Top 10 right now that achieved success without utilizing lyrics YOU WOULDN'T BE ABLE TO. And I will prove my point with my fierce pointing.

But it's cool, I'm over it now.

6. Cheating is easy. Unless you audit everyone's answer sheet, it's impossible to tell if they are changing answers at the last minute, or simply saying an answer other than what they have written. This suspicion quickly breeds contempt. So much so that by the end of the game when "F" was rolled and the category was "Objects in the room," three of the answers were "frauds," "fucking fuckers" (two points!), and "fucktards."


7. You can't drink for two minutes thirty seconds at a time. Ironically, during the most stressful part of the game (where you can't remember what the fuck the name of that goddamn river I even though you've driven past it like fifteen times and you know for a fact that it starts with a "P") you can't sip your cocktail. I tried once and immediately sprayed bourbon all over the table to ensure my friend got down American Apparel before time ran out. (Perhaps Brooke was on to something . . .)

8. Did I mention you have to make up the rules? It got to the point where an argument between me and Brooke about an answer was decided by a headstand contest.

Luckily I am very good at headstands and Brooke was sufficiently drunk.

9. It proves you are not as smart as you think you are. With the aforementioned incredibly loud timer mocking you as it ticks away the seconds of your pathetic, unfulfilled life, it's really hard to concentrate. So when the category "Politicians/World Leaders" comes up and, just before time runs out you suggest to your partner that he write down "Langley" because "They named CIA headquarters after him – he must be famous," and you lay out this very same argument to the other players while they scoff and snicker before informing you that Langley is, in fact, the name of the town, not the founder, it makes you feel a little stupid. It's cold comfort when your partner says, "I thought you said Lang Li, like some ancient Chinese ruler. I was excited about getting two points," because you realize that this is your partner.


Blogger Sid said...

Oh that's brilliant. I wish we had Scattergories in SA.

August 13, 2009 at 2:03:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


True story.

August 13, 2009 at 7:39:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Liberal Banana said...

Post is hilarious (because it is SO TRUE) and so is Anonymous' comment!

August 13, 2009 at 1:28:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two answers from a recent game:

Letter F, Things you throw away: Friends

Letter O, Things that are round: oddly shaped squares

August 13, 2009 at 10:04:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


August 14, 2009 at 9:44:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous scattered and gory said...

I was playing once with my friends and the category (or should i be saying scattergory? i don't know how this works) was precious gems and the letter was A. So, I put down Aladdin, you know, because he's a diamond in the rough, and I totally got slammed for it. Am I wrong in thinking that was unfair and the my answer was and still remains totally awesome?

Wait, can I send submit this for Q&A Friday?

August 14, 2009 at 5:15:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indirectly, several of these "rules" are exactly why certain board games are banned in my family. Like Monopoly, or Risk, or f*** it, anything Parker Brothers stuck to cardboard.

Funny, painfully empathetic.

August 15, 2009 at 8:58:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Milk And Honey said...

I maintain that frizzled onions are INDEED a pizza topping.

P.S. We played again last night and my team won again :)!

August 16, 2009 at 4:40:00 PM EDT  
Blogger [mother] said...

Our beach neighbors were very grateful for the timer. The din of complaints, excuses and pleading was immediately stopped with the sound of the ticking.

Next year, "adult" Scattergories.

August 17, 2009 at 7:27:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was a brilliant post! It brought back a combination of fondly terrifying memories for me.

August 18, 2009 at 10:44:00 AM EDT  
Blogger kristy said...

My family had to retire this game in order to maintain any sort of civility toward each other at Christmas. Oh, it got UGLY. Even WITH the voting. But I'm sorry, sometimes adjectives count and sometimes they don't.

Also: to Scatter and Gory - Aladdin WAS a "diamond in the rough" as directly quoted by the movie. I would have voted for you. (Though my cousin would have thrown his answer sheet at me and stormed out of the room for so doing.)

August 21, 2009 at 8:37:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Andrea said...

Brooke. For you. Examples of your friend Amy's ridiculous Scattergories contributions.

Letter: O

category: things you throw away.
Answer: orphans

Letter: J
category: things that are round.
Answer: Jolly people

August 23, 2009 at 12:10:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Whinger said...

A distant relative of mine (like second cousin once removed or something) invented Scattergories.

And now I have to avoid all family gatherings that may or may not include this person so that I don't have to play that effing game. It truly leads me to kind of hate the ones I love.

True story.

September 10, 2009 at 1:21:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Alysha said...

Thanks for the laugh. I'm relieved and somewhat alarmed that so many other families have the same problems with this game!

September 12, 2009 at 10:01:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Christina said...

I laughed so hard I cried. Thanks.

September 23, 2009 at 2:21:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Gina said...

This is well after the blog was posted but still.....we actually almost lost friends over a game of scattergories...opponents claimed that we had an unfair advantage in the category "childish names for bodily functions" since we have kids and they don't. Same couple, however, nearly ended their marriage over a game of cranium.

December 18, 2009 at 5:30:00 AM EST  
Blogger Lori said...

game not as good as it could have been. the patent lawyer that stole it from me and 3 friends in 1987 did not take good enough notes. this was a really good game called "categories". he stole it AND he ruined it.
for real.

if you want his name and number will give it! no kidding

still upset

March 27, 2010 at 9:22:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greatest. Description. Of. Scattergories. Ever. My friends and I played two nights ago. The reason I found your blog is because I was using the internet to bolster my side of the argument that is still ongoing.

January 2, 2011 at 2:48:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW. I never realized people take this game so seriously =(

March 7, 2011 at 6:25:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone out there ever had a party with frozen margaritas?

May 31, 2011 at 10:54:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Roseann said...

Just played this effing game last night and still trying to decide if I will speak to some of those people again!

Also, like another poster, I googled this because I know my answer should have counted! Dumbasses!


June 6, 2011 at 12:17:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guess what? And for this holiday season (2011), I just discovered a new version Scattergories Catergories! You want to get even MORE confused or mad or crazy-angry....give it a try! You can find it at almost every game-site on the web!

Merry Christmas!

November 13, 2011 at 4:19:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Found this trying to prove I was that pathetic? Thanks for the giggles and the reassurance that I am not the only one who thinks the rules are crap!

December 31, 2012 at 1:16:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just played this and I'm sure that if I wanted 'lima beans' or 'licorice' as my "pizza topping " I don't see why not... in addition to voting we use Google to fact check everything lol

January 21, 2013 at 1:25:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Dad once tried:

Things on a football field: S
"Soccer Style kicker" He even wanted 2 points for it!

Having said that, I am pretty much undefeated at this game and love it despite the fact that everything you say is completely true :)

December 4, 2013 at 5:17:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ohhh I got #10 for you:

"NOTORIOUS PEOPLE" -----> It doesn't mean what you think it means!!!!

But to be fair, I suppose Santa Clause does break into people's houses once a year to eat their friggin cookies!!!

December 11, 2013 at 8:07:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the most accurate description of Scattergories ever. Bravo!

August 9, 2014 at 4:01:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah. fuck that game. Up at a lake cabin, drinking and playing with my wife, her friend, and three 11-year-old girls. Got the question, "List the world's most beautiful women" and I was like, "duh. Kate Winslet, Natalie Portman and Naomi Watts!"

Whoops. The faces of the girls when they revealed that they predicted I would name my wife and daughters will haunt me until my dying day.

December 17, 2015 at 11:58:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So fucking true. Playing Scattergories Categories. Had to do with things you use to clean your home.

"Scented Soap" was my answer. They claimed scented was an unnecessary adjective. I pointed out that you can have soap that is unscented and you often choose a specific scent when picking a soap, so it definitely should count. That argument lasted until the game was thrown across the table.

December 29, 2015 at 10:31:00 PM EST  
Blogger Jason Howard said...

This is great! I found this looking for evidence to support a 24 hour long "debate" with my fiancé about one of her answers last night.

Letter: D
Cat: Spicy Foods
Her Answer: Deveined Shrimp

Not giving in on that one ever. Still engaged for now.

January 6, 2016 at 4:05:00 PM EST  
Blogger Cass said...

Currently in bed at 8pm after a brutal scattegories argument with my husband. Fuck this game. Also, I'm right!! How asinine to think "product name" seriously mean ANY product. Nonsense. Example: for the category Product Name and the letter N, I might say Nabisco or Nintendo. My husband REFUSES these answers and says they aren't "products" they are "brands" and by products they mean any manufactured good. Really?! A category that mean "literally, any fucking thing." Come on! Thank goodness our children have inherited their mother's wits! Ha!

September 17, 2016 at 8:52:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Cass said...

Currently in bed at 8pm after a brutal scattegories argument with my husband. Fuck this game. Also, I'm right!! How asinine to think "product name" seriously mean ANY product. Nonsense. Example: for the category Product Name and the letter N, I might say Nabisco or Nintendo. My husband REFUSES these answers and says they aren't "products" they are "brands" and by products they mean any manufactured good. Really?! A category that mean "literally, any fucking thing." Come on! Thank goodness our children have inherited their mother's wits! Ha!

September 17, 2016 at 8:53:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Brian Cahill said...

I hate this fu***** game. People will thumbs down things, but then play an answer in the same vain as the answer they thumbed down. For example, my girlfriend thumbs up "new floor" but followed in a new round to thumbs down "happy clown", citing the use of adjective. So annoying. No offense to females, but in my experience, and I mean in my literal experience (not exaggerating or lying at all), women are the players who play without logic. They anyways contradict themselves with what they accept, but then later reject.

November 26, 2016 at 9:35:00 PM EST  
Blogger eliz said...

Adding to the list of people who found this blog after getting in a heated argument with their SO. I just don't think it's fair to make up a magazine title and after time runs out google to see if it's a real magazine.

December 5, 2016 at 2:03:00 PM EST  
Blogger Unknown said...

This is my thought! I've had this game forever. I've never played it once. Not even sure how I ended up with it! I was thinking about having friends over on Christmas to play.....I wouldn't think they'd get all pissy with one another , but I guess it could totally happen!

December 24, 2016 at 3:43:00 PM EST  
Blogger Unknown said...

Just listening to the family play as I REFUSE to subject myself to this anymore: letter k, food - answer: Kernal of corn. Umm...a Kernal is not a food!

December 31, 2016 at 11:18:00 PM EST  
Blogger Jaclyn Hansen said...

I loved this so much. It is so true. I hate this game and all its wishy-washiness (2 points?), but my husband loves it, so we just spent an hour discussing ways to make rules that are concrete enough to make it fun again. Here's what we came up with:
Same rules as the game states for proper nouns and titles- articles (a/an/the don't count, if you multiple words that start with the key letter, you get multiple points).
The first word of your answer must start with the letter rolled. The first word can only be an adjective if it is part of the name of the thing. The spirit of the rule is that if the thing (including the adjective) doesn't have its own Wikipedia page, it's not allowed. For example, "praying mantis" is a THING and HAS a Wikipedia page. "Magnificent mantis" is NOT a thing. You don't literally have to look things up on Wikipedia, but it at least gives you a way to clarify between acceptable and unacceptable answers.

Hoping this saves someone else's marriage!

April 18, 2017 at 12:59:00 AM EDT  

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