Since the quarantine, I have become intimately familiar with online games. One of my all-time favorites is CODENAMES. Originally, it was a table top card game, but some internet saint created a streamlined online version. While it’s a difficult game to play, it is exceedingly simple in its execution.

The rules go like this: There are 2 teams, RED and BLUE. There can be any number of players on each team, but each team has only one Spymaster. The Spymaster is the only person who can see which color the words on the screen are.

RED words must be guessed by the RED team and BLUE words must be guessed by the BLUE team. BLACK words are neutral and the word on the GREY card is the BOMB that immediately ends the game and means an automatic loss for the team that chooses it. The object of the game is for your team to guess all their words first without blowing up.

“But how do the players know which words to choose?,” you ask.

The Spymaster is allowed to give a SINGLE WORD as a clue each round and the NUMBER of words it corresponds to. For example, if I was the BLUE Spymaster in the game above, I would say the word “MOUNTAINS” and “TWO” in the hopes that my team would guess “HIMALAYAS” and “ALPS.”

What I love most about this game is that such a simple looking layout can, internally within the players themselves, create an extremely complex series of thoughts, deductions, and emotions. Each game is completely different because each player has a completely different set of references and associations that they bring to the blank slate of the game. It’s amazing how much meaning a single word can contain.

September 23, 2020