By wasting time, we mean “games”. I mean, that’s what they really are for, right? But it’s impossible to waste time play games without a computer. And nowadays computer games have those crappy things called microtransactions (paying for things in the game itself), so you not only have to pay for a game sometimes, you have to pay even more after buying it.

What if I told you that you could play games that didn’t require a computer?

Yes, it's possible. Credit: Giphy

Yes, it’s possible. Credit: Giphy

Here’s what I we did in the past. These games were just as entertaining as the ones today.


1. Choose Your Own Adventure books

Some books even let you be a shark. Credit: Like Totally 80s

Some books even let you be a shark. Credit: Like Totally 80s

Choose Your Own Adventure books were all the rage in the 80s, leading into more fantasy-oriented titles like Lone Wolf and Fighting Fantasy. They were pioneers of interactive media, before touchscreens even existed.

Basically, each story was divided into multiple sections. After reading each section, you could make a choice about what to do next (the stories were written from the reader’s point-of-view). Your choices would lead you through different sections, and ultimately different endings. So you could read the some book over and over again and it would always be a different story.

More enterprising kids would try to write their own Choose Your Own Adventure stories – but without the benefit of illustrations (or, you know, a publisher), only three of my their classmates read it.

In fact, you can still buy these books on Amazon (although you’d need to be an Amazon Prime member now for free shipping, boo hoo).


2. Co-operative storytelling

Co-operative storytelling is where two or more people take turns to tell a story. Each person says one sentence (or more), then the next person continues the story with their contribution, and so on, until the story ends. It can be played verbally or via written text.

It’s incredibly rewarding because anything can happen, and you also have the spontaneity of having to work off the previous person’s sentence. But the more interesting aspect of it is the power struggle between players. Different people will want to take the story in different directions, and it’s hilarious to see storytellers vie to get the story to go in the direction they want.

Here’s another funny version of co-operative storytelling (called a Tandem Story) between two people.

At first, Laurie couldn’t decide which kind of tea she wanted. The camomile, which used to be her favorite for lazy evenings at home, now reminded her too much of Carl, who once said, in happier times, that he liked camomile. But she felt she must now, at all costs, keep her mind off Carl. His possessiveness was suffocating, and if she thought about him too much her asthma started acting up again. So camomile was out of the question.

Meanwhile, Advance Sergeant Carl Harris, leader of the attack squadron now in orbit over Skylon 4, had more important things to think about than the neuroses of an air-headed bimbo named Laurie with whom he had spent one sweaty night over a year ago. “A.S. Harris to Geostation 17,” he said into his transgalactic communicator. “Polar orbit established. No sign of resistance so far…” But before he could sign off a bluish particle beam flashed out of nowhere and blasted a hole through his ship’s cargo bay. The jolt from the direct hit sent him flying out of his seat and across the cockpit.

He bumped his head and died almost immediately, but not before he felt one last pang of regret for psychically brutalizing the one woman who had ever had feelings for him. Soon afterwards, Earth stopped its pointless hostilities towards the peaceful farmers of Skylon 4. “Congress Passes Law Permanently Abolishing War and Space Travel,” Laurie read in her newspaper one morning. The news simultaneously excited her and bored her. She stared out the window, dreaming of her youth — when the days had passed unhurriedly and carefree, with no newspapers to read, no television to distract her from her sense of innocent wonder at all the beautiful things around her. “Why must one lose one’s innocence to become a woman?” she pondered wistfully.

Little did she know, but she had less than 10 seconds to live. Thousands of miles above the city, the Anu’udrian mothership launched the first of its lithium fusion missiles. The dim-witted wimpy peaceniks who pushed the Unilateral Aerospace Disarmament Treaty through Congress had left Earth a defenseless target for the hostile alien empires who were determined to destroy the human race. Within two hours after the passage of the treaty the Anu’udrian ships were on course for Earth, carrying enough firepower to pulverize the entire planet. With no one to stop them they swiftly initiated their diabolical plan. The lithium fusion missile entered the atmosphere unimpeded. The President, in his top-secret mobile submarine headquarters on the ocean floor off the coast of Guam, felt the inconceivably massive explosion which vaporized Laurie and 85 million other Americans. The President slammed his fist on the conference table. “We can’t allow this! I’m going to veto that treaty! Let’s blow ’em out of the sky!”

This is absurd. I refuse to continue this mockery of literature. My writing partner is a violent, chauvinistic, semi-literate adolescent.

Yeah? Well, you’re a self-centered tedious neurotic whose attempts at writing are the literary equivalent of Valium.

You total $*&.

Stupid %&#$!.


Hee hee hee.


3. Dungeons & Dragons

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in Stranger Things. Credit: Inverse Entertainment

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in Stranger Things. PS: The Demogorgon was edited in. Credit: Inverse Entertainment

If you’ve watched Stranger Things (and why wouldn’t you?) then you’ll notice that the characters play this quaint game with dice and miniatures on a grid map with pencils and paper.

That, my friends, is Dungeons & Dragons – the physical, tabletop precursor to all computer fantasy games today like Final Fantasy and Warcraft. It’s like a super advanced version of co-operative storytelling, except that players roll dice to simulate actions that required luck (like attacking a monster, for example). Instead of a computer dictating what you can or cannot do, a human (known as the Dungeon Master) would be the arbiter of all outcomes in the game.

So it was a game with unparalleled freedom of choice. If the king asked you to save the princess, you could completely ignore him and go on a quest for treasure instead. The graphics might not have been as intense, but that’s because it was all up to the imagination of the players and the Dungeon Master.

Also, if you’re interested in playing a modern Dungeons & Dragons game, you can start with this book on BooksDepository (and then email me please, I’m looking for players!).


4. Whacko

Whacko! Credit: The Tide Chaser

Whacko! Credit: The Tide Chaser

Whacko is a favourite ice breaker for many youth-oriented programmes. Basically, a person (the Whacker) has to stand in the middle of a circle of friends and whack the person whose name has been called out. However, that person can call out another person’s name instead. Whoever gets hit becomes the next Whacker, and so on.

This game may sound silly and juvenile, but once you’ve been playing it for more than 10 minutes, it’s really very entertaining. You’ll need a large number of people for this to work, however (10 or more). But it’s the combination of both physical (hitting people) and mental (remembering names) aspects that make Whacko so entertaining.

And it’s also fun to play among friends. Just don’t do it on slippery surfaces. Really.


5. Truth or Dare

Spin it! Credit: Peimag

Spin it! Credit: Peimag

The premise of the game is in its name. All you needed was a group of friends to sit in a circle, and get a bottle or pointer of some sort to spin. Whoever the bottle pointed out would have to choose between telling a truth (to a question posed by the group) or doing a dare (also posed by the group).

It’s a simple game but it whiled away hours because you’d always get the following kinds of people in the group (who made the game more fun)

  • the dirty-minded one (who would always ask lewd questions or pose suggestive dares)
  • the “truth only” one (who would never pick the dares, so you could be guaranteed that he or she would answer questions)
  • the nervous one (who would be kancheong regardless of truths or dares)

The best part? Coming up with the questions or dares for the poor victim. Sometimes, truly unfortunate players would find that the bottle kept pointing at them.

If a person got “picked” by the pointer more than three times in a row, it was time to end the game. That often meant that something was also playing the game along with you.


6. Murderer and Detective

Known by several other names like “Hunter and Bear” or “Mafia” on Wikipedia, this game requires a moderator. The United States version requires a pack of cards, but you don’t need it for the Singaporean version (more commonly known as “Murderer and Detective”). The video above is for the longer, more complex US version.

The moderator, known as the Game Master, secretly picks one or two people to be Murderers and one or two people to be Detectives. All of them close their eyes (it’s “night”), and then the two Murderers open their eyes and point out to the Game Master who they want “murdered”. Then the Game Master will tell everyone to open their eyes (it’s “day”), and announce who the Murderers’ victim is.

Thereafter, the community discusses and votes to kill off who they think the Murderer is. The objective of the Murderers is to kill off the Detectives, while the objective of the Detectives is to get the community to kill off the Murderers.

The game is basically politics on a smaller, personal level. Watching how people steer others to vote a person off is pretty entertaining, especially if you have vocal friends within the group. The best part is – you don’t need a computer to do this. All you need are folk who are willing to be manipulated by other, devious players in order to waste one entire afternoon away.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Did you catch Jumanji way back in 1995? Well, we have a sequel 22 years later – Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle! Better late than never, we say. This film stars Jack Black (remember him?) and The Rock, who traverse the world of Jumanji as the avatars (in-game characters) of several teenagers, alongside Kevin Hart (gosh this movie is going to be noisy) and Karen Gillan (Nebula from Guardians of the Galaxy!).

What new horrors will they find in the game this time? Is Jumanji compatible with the Nintendo Switch? And will we see a video game tie-in for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (which would be a game based on the sequel to a show that’s based on a book that’s about a game)?

Not a motivational poster. This is the cover for the original Jumanji book. Credit: ALSC

Not a motivational poster. This is the cover for the original Jumanji book. Credit: ALSC

We’ll know when we catch Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle!


Credit: Giphy, Like Totally 80s, Inverse Entertainment, The Tide Chaser, Peimag, Golden Village Cinemas, ALSC