what's on your mind?
Next is a simple drinking game for 2 or more players (More the merrier!). The rules are:
1) The players form a circle with a clearly defined order of traversal
2) A random starting letter along with a random first player is chosen.
3) The first player can start off by saying out loud any word starting with the starting letter
4) The next player has to say a word that begins with the ending letter of the first word, keeping in mind that their word must somehow be related to the word said previously. Words cannot be repeated.
5) A time limit is implied for one to say a word, but there is no need for obsessive timekeeping, just consensus from the crowd about how much time is fair.
6) Other players can contest the relevancy of a word to the previous one, while a player can defend the same. Time is paused during this defense. Acceptance or rejection of the word is determined by a vote.
6) If a player's word is rejected or if they cannot come up with a word in time, they are eliminated.
7) This goes on until a winner is determined.
Why is Next fun?
Next is an example of what I would like to call a "backseat game". This kind of game does not generate fun by itself. it instead creates situations that allow players to generate their own fun, leading to highly personalized playthroughs that will vary from group to group, person to person. The players are the stars in Next.
How does that work?
The rules of Next are extremely simple, unremarkable even. This is it's strength, as it allows for more free form play. There is no strict determiner of whether 2 words are relevant to each other. This leads to a lot of creativity, humor, and personality. For example, if the previous word was "Food", the answers might be anything from "Dinner" to "Diet" to "Diabetes" to "Dominoes", and it all depends on the mental associations of the player saying the next word. This showcases ones personality, thought process, and feelings very faithfully, while imbuing each game with the uniqueness of the people playing it. Players can be funny, serious, or just plain factual, and can be contested by other players with different perspectives, leading to enjoyable back and forth between the different individuals.
Next also allows the expression of a group as a whole to manifest. The game allows for "group specific play", where players would put forward a word within a certain group that they cannot when playing with a different group. For example, if it was a group of game engine programmers playing, and the previous word was "Collisions", then "Separation Axis" is a totally valid next word that everyone else would accept. This, however, would be seen as a poor word at best and outright rejected at worst if a game engine programmer were to say it during a game with their family. This means that a player is mindful of the group they are in, and would choose to say, contest and defend words keeping the group composition in mind. This, in effect, is the expression of the group in the game, and the same words may lead to vastly different responses based on the group. This can turn out to a bonding experience when a group of similar people play the game, as the others "get" why they are saying different words without having to explain it to them.
"Nail" is a perfectly valid followup word for "Iron", and so is "Nitrogen" (assuming people are familiar with the periodic table). But would you accept "Nuclear Stability"? If you are unfamiliar with the fact the Iron is known to have one of the most stable nuclei, you might contest it. This would lead to education of the players about certain facts that they were unaware of. Another example would be if the previous word was "modem" and someone said "Motorola", I bet most people would be amazed to know that Motorola does make modems. This sort of transfer of tiny little tit bits is extremely enjoyable. But it doesn't have to be just objective statements. One can put across their subjective thoughts just as well in Next. All it takes is someone to say "Deception" after "Friend" for everyone's interest to be piqued, wanting to know which double crosser led this person to associate friendship with deception. This, again, creates healthy back and forth, allowing members to get to know each other better and bond over it.
Me and a few friends play Next (we don't have an explicit name for it) whenever we feel bored, or are having a cozy house party with a small gang of people. Next has lead to an unbelievable variety of conversations, many times compelling to leave the game mid way so that we can simply continue talking, returning to it when we feel like it. Give it a try, you might just like it