In the 1950s members of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop created a game they called ‘Smoke.’ It works as follows:
The player who is ‘it’ chooses some famous person with whom everyone playing is surely acquainted (Bill Clinton, Elvis Presley, Jack Nicholson, Gandhi, for instance) and tells the other players, ‘I am a dead American,’ ‘I am a living American,’ ‘I am a dead Asian,’ ‘I am a dead European’ ect.
Then each of the other players in turn asks one question of the person who is ‘it,’ such as, ‘What kind of smoke are you?’ (cigarette, pipe, cigar — or, more specifically, Winston, Dunhill, Marlboro) or ‘What kind of weather are you?’ ‘What kind of insect are you?’ or ‘What kind of transportation?’
The person who is ‘it’ answers not in terms of what kind of smoke his character would like, if any, but what kind of smoke he would be if, reincarnated as one of those.
Jack Nicholson if an insect may be a yellow-jacket; Mike Tyson, if weather, may be a strong storm; and as a vehicle of transportation Jim Carrey may be a clown car.
What invariably happens when this game is played by fairly sensitive people is that the whole crowd of questioners builds a stronger and stronger feeling of the character, by unconscious association, until finally someone says the right name — ‘Jim Carrey!’ or ‘Mike Tyson!’ — and everyone in the room feels instantly that that’s right.
There is obviously no way to play this game with the reasoning faculty, since it depends on unconscious associations or intuition; and what the game proves conclusively for everyone playing is that our associations are remarkably similar. When one of the players falls into some mistake, for instance, saying that Arnold Schwarzenegger is a chihuahua instead of, more properly, a bulldog, all the players at the end of the game are sure to protest, ‘You misled us when you said “chihuahua.”‘
The game is a lot of fun – and once you and your friends or family get a few rounds under your belts it becomes quite the good time.