As television and the internet continue to gain steam as the dominant forms of entertainment for parents and children alike, it can be easy to overlook more traditional family passtimes, like playing cards and the balderdash board game. The balderdash game encourages interaction between family members of all ages and can provide a refreshing alternative to another night channel-surfing in front of the tube.
The balderdash board game does not require the kind of specialized knowledge needed to win a trivia game, nor does it have complicated rules like chess or many other logic games. Instead, the balderdash game is based in creativity and communication, skills which even kindergarten-aged children posses and intuitively employ in a strategic manner to navigate the world. This makes the balderdash game an ideal family game, as children have a fair chance against the adults, making the game more challenging for everybody involved.
The balderdash board game is also known as the dictionary game, or occasionally goes by the name of fictionary. It requires at least three players, but can be played by an unlimited number of people, although the ideal amount of players for the quick, engaging rounds is about 4-6. The bulk of the game consists of making up fake definitions for obscure words, hence the term fictionary, a contraction of "fictional dictionary."
Balderdash lends itself to variation; there is any number of possible twists to the basic rules. Once the balderdash board game has been mastered by all the members of the household, creating and testing a new version of the game can be a fun activity for the whole family.
The basic rules consist of the following: one player chooses a word from the dictionary that he believes to be so obscure that no other player will know its actual definition. The player reads the word aloud and spells it for the benefit of the other players. If anybody recognizes the word and knows what it means, they must announce it so that another word can be chosen instead.
Once the word has been chosen, each one of the players privately writes a false definition for the word, which they think the other players may be gullible enough to believe in, in fact, the actual meaning. This can be the most fun part of the game, as players imaginations run wild in the attempt to concoct a definition which the other players will accept as true. The most successful balderdash players know how to outsmart their opponents because they learn why people choose their answers by watching and listening to the other players during the game. Each one of us has a unique way of making decisions in the context of a game like fictionary, and the more attuned the players become to each others' ways of reasoning, the more challenging and exciting the gameplay becomes. This means there is a built-in incentive to know your opponents well, which makes balderdash an ideal way to get a busy family to slow down and pay attention to each other. They have to learn more about the other members of their family and get closer to them in order to win the game!
Once everyone has written their definitions, the players all pass their writings forward. The first player shuffles all of them, along with a written copy of the real definition, and then reads everything aloud (the real definition and the false ones) in random order. Each player then votes for which definition they think is the correct one. Each time a player chooses the real, dictionary definition instead of a falsely created definition, he gains one point. Each time a player incorrectly chooses a false, or "balderdash," definition as the real meaning of the word, the writer of the fake definition gets one point. At the end of the round, the real definition is read, and each player must confess which of the sometimes hilariously bizarre false definitions they have created in an attempt to fool the other players.
The balderdash game broadens the vocabulary of young and old alike, but unlike many educational games balderdash moves very quickly, keeping children engaged as they learn. The game consists of short rounds of play, which allows for constant new challenges to emerge, and for the players to create and test new strategies in a low-risk situation. This encourages innovative thinking and helps families grow together.
The balderdash game is ideal for bringing family members closer because it centers on listening to each other. Spending an evening learning listening skills together in a playful, positive atmosphere, can help strengthen the groundwork that any family is built on.