Last Friday, I bought a couple of board games at my favorite store, Goodwill, each for $5. They were new. I couldn’t believe it. I thought of my Latinx Club and my library, even though I got the suspicion that I would be the most excited person in playing with them. In the worst case scenario, I knew that at least one game if not successful with middle schoolers, I could use it as a lifesaver for a writer’s block during this slice of life story challenge.
The game is called BaffleGabTM. A quick search in Google tells me that it’s not very well-known, ha! Many links direct me to eBay or reviews written in 2005. The domain bafflegab.com advertised on the box is for sale at $4,995 + 17,99/yr Still, I am stubborn and can’t be easily deter by the popularity (or not) of algorithms. I think it’s a fun game to stretch our imagination and expand our vocabulary.
The game comes with 300 cards of one word each. On one side of the card is written one of the words and when you turn the card over you can see the definition. The cards are a combination of nouns, adjectives and verbs. There is also a set of 50 cards with famous lines from classic authors of children’s literature such as Lewis Carroll, L. Frank Baum or Louisa May Alcott. The idea is to draw one famous line and five words cards. Each players has 1 minute to write a story without looking at the definitions of words. You have to start the story with the famous line.
I found it very cumbersome the way points are counted, and probably players will spend more time in checking all the points than actually playing the game. Since the character of BaffleGab is a dog called Gabby, supposedly players earn bone dollars for each word expressed correctly. Some words have more points than others. You get less points if you use the starter lien incorrectly, sentences have to be complete. Beyond that I get lost. Too much grammar and “teaching” rules involved. Too much bafflegabbing, actually.
I think it’s just fun to give students or myself the starting line and the 5 words, and challenge them to write a story. Then read the stories out loud and have fun listening to them. Points and dollars, wrong sentences, complete sentences, wrong words, just take away the joy of creation. I wouldn’t forbid students to look at the definition either. On the contrary, I would encourage them to read them, so they know how to use each word. I have to put in Google translator the starting line I got, since I didn’t understand it at the beginning, so what’s the point of rushing kids and tell them that they only have 1 minute and if they write things wrong they lose?
Probably for adults it might be fun to do it without looking at the definition and give a special prize to the person that comes up with more BS. I bet they will be plenty of them.
Anyway, I thought that as a writer’s block breaker is really nice. Here is my story. In orange is the starter line and in purple the 5 words drawn.
But then I dare say soldiers were like rhinoceros. They thought that they were thick-skinned creatures that bullets only make a scratch in their bodies. Even the most crafty one understood the gargantuan mistake that was to go to war. Still, they went, stayed for hours, days, weeks, and months on the front line, until their eyes became moldy, and couldn’t see the enemy was waving a white flag.
Here is the full quote of the starting line:
But then I dare say soldier – even brave ones- don’t really like going in to battles.
Frances Hodgson Burnett, Little Princess.