Guidance for Party Games

Guidance for Party Games

Click here to download a copy. Hope you will enjoy and share with your friends.


Each January, students at Birmingham-Southern enjoy the privilege of exploration term, the liberal arts education through practical experience and in-depth personal knowledge. Students may choose off-campus projects, ranging from international study-travel to service-learning to internships. 2021 cames differently due to the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, our footprints was restricted, our freedom compromised, and our loneliness exaggerated. Many students told me that they had not spoken with people face to face for several months. I found it may be the time to ask the question: shall we consider an E-term course that reconnects everyone to the real world?

As an attempt to answer the question above, I designed this e-term course, “Economics of Playing Games.” The description is as follows.

“Playing games is a wonderful way to get to know people and make friends. However, are you short of new games that demand some intelligence rather than just drinking? Are you afraid that you are not smart enough to play well? How long does it take to get familiar with a new game in a gathering and be a competitive player? This project will get you equipped and help you become a game master. In each meeting, we will play a game popular in the US or other countries. These are games that require individuals to observe others, send signals, and make decisions. During the game, we will discuss the best strategy to convey accurate information to the right person. Students are required to keep a journal that reflects upon these gaming experiences and gets them prepared for future games. You will be evaluated based on your participation and a culminating ten-page reflective essay.”

Trying to win the games by the rules, students physically implemented the principles of economics: rational individuals move toward their goals given limited resources and certain restrictions. We classified games into five categories. They respectively correspond to five essential elements in communication – describe an object, convey a message, ask a question, tell a story, and identify a lie. By playing those games, students not only actively communicated with real people next to them but also learned to effectively acquire useful information.

This guidebook grew out of students’ final reflective essays. Fifteen students summarized their exploration term project with more than 50,000 words in total. We edited these summaries into a tiny booklet. Now it’s ready for you to share with your friends! This guidebook is not only about a dozen of party games that obsolete alcohol drinking but also about the affection and joy those students experienced during the process. My students and I sincerely recommend these games for you to reconnect yourself to people around you and to the people you love. Hope you enjoy!

Zhengyang (Robin) Chen
Assistant Professor in Economics

My research interests include Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics, Time Series Analysis and Financial Economics.