The Chicken Game System

The Chicken Game System is a framework that I and my game-designer friends have used to generate a number of amusing games. Like the surrealist games of the early 1900’s, Chicken Games use random juxtapositions of concepts to stimulate creativity. However, most of the old surrealist games used random juxtapositions to generate the final product—a poem, a picture, or a story. Chicken Games use random juxtapositions to generate prompts, to which players craft responses. Furthermore, Chicken Games are more structured than their surrealist counterparts, and can be played competitively. But the ultimate focus is still on laughter and fun.

The Abstract Framework

Before the game begins, you and the other players must create the material that you’ll use to generate the “prompts” during the game. The particular game that you’re playing will determine the kind of material you need to create. You may be writing down words on slips of paper, drawing single-panel comics, or cutting pictures out of a magazine. Also, you’ll usually need a healthy supply of blank note-paper.

Generating the Prompt

At the beginning of each round, the current Judge generates a “prompt”. Most commonly, the Judge does this by randomly selecting two or more of the items created during the setup phase and juxtaposing them together. If the ordering of the juxtaposed items matters, the Judge decides on the order.

Writing the Entries

Set a timer for the length of time dictated by the particular game. You may create as many entries as you’d like within the allotted time. Write each one on a separate piece of paper. When the timer runs out, you’re allowed to finish the entry you’re working on, but you’re not allowed to start another one. Shuffle everyone’s entries into a face-down pile.

Judging the Entries

The Judge selects one player to read all the entries aloud. After hearing them all, the Judge picks two favorites, and the respective creators receive one point each. If the same player created both of the chosen entries, that player gets both points. Use the prompt items or the winning entries to keep track of points. After each player has been the Judge once, the game ends, and the player with the most points wins.

Chicken Games

The following pages describe the rules to some of the particular Chicken Games that we’ve played. Some of these pages contain galleries of material that we’ve generated while playing the games.

Further Reading