A noncompetitive board "game"
, billed as the "World's Most Popular Self Expression Game
". I played this "game" when young, and I'd hate to see the least
The basic concept of the Ungame is that players, rolling dice, move around a circular path. This path consists of three types of spaces:
- "Tell It Like It Is": The player is instructed to draw a card from a shared deck. This card will contain a question, which the player reads aloud and then answers in a few sentences. There are two shared decks, one of yellow cards and one of white cards. The yellow cards are intended to be "light" and "fun", while the white cards are intended to provoke thought and insight. A player may draw from whichever deck he prefers.
- "Do Your Own Thing": The player may say anything on his mind, comment on previous statements, ask another player a question, or if they so choose, draw a card.
- "Hang Up": The player follows the instructions printed on this particular space.
When not their turn, players are to remain silent and listen, unless they are asked a question by a player on a "Do Your Own Thing" space. Players may decide to pass on their turn, and any player can decline to answer a question if they so prefer. There is no defined end or goal to the game, but rather players are instructed to play for an agreed-upon amount of time.
The Ungame was created by housewife Rhea Zakich following throat surgery that threatened to render her permanently mute. Rejected by established publishers, it was picked up by a small producer of health care training videos, who would use it to reorganize as minor games publisher Talicor. Talicor now also publishes a "Christian" version. This, the original, and also "Kids", "Teens", and "Couples", are available in "pocket" versions, which is just as well, as the board didn't really do anything anyway. Rhea has gone on to become a minor celebrity of the Christian motivational speaking circuit.
My mother bought a copy of this in a "tools for childhood development" store in Philadelphia when I was in preschool. We used it two times. Looking back, I think that even as a "bright" child, some of the questions dealt with concepts I couldn't yet grasp or aspects of my personality that had not yet settled. But more than that, it was, well, boring. It's all the fun of going to the psychologist without the coherent structure or the trained facilitator. Only that the "psychologist" is, say, your mom. Talicor's website posts breathless accounts of families united, marriages saved, and bonds forged by the game, and while I don't mean to trivialize the difficulty of getting people to open up and communicate sometimes, one wonders what kind of people have their lives changed by such a flimsy device.
All in all, this game is very much a product of the 1970s - self-help, openness about emotions, and complete and utter banality. A copy of the Ungame is clearly visible in the games closet in The Royal Tenenbaums. I felt this was a wonderful detail, fitting in with the movie's conscious attempt to create a "dated" feel.