Note: This article originally appeared on Josh’s blog in November of 2014.
How do you make an awesome game like Mario Kart even more fun? Add alcohol to it. Yes that’s right I said add alcohol to the game. Set up rules where each player has one beer in their hands and whenever they cross the line for a lap, they must drink their race placement in sips. For example if a player is in first, they take one sip, second two sips and so on; the caveat being that you must drink while you are driving your kart. Play the game this way for thirty minutes. Everyone playing will have an incredible party buzz going on and bam, social barriers collapse. A great way to break the ice in my opinion.
The topic of this blog is House Rules and game modifications. The above is an example of modifying a pre existing game to conform to a specific desire of a group. Another classic example can be seen in Monopoly. I can’t imagine there being a large number of people in the world who have not played Monopoly at some point in time in their lives. What’s interesting to me though is how often people do not actually abide strictly to the rules. Most everyone has their own way of playing this central game. Growing up in my parent’s house the rule of free parking was actually a refund. Anytime a player paid taxes, they put it in the middle of the board. Also in the middle was a $50 dollar bill always put there after the pot was drained. This was definitely not in the rules. A more commonly missed rule in this game is the skipping of auctioning. As a kid, we never did this, but in high school, it was a staple in what made the game a blast to play. Who wants Park Place for $200… I do I do!
There are even games that were born from mods of other games. Unreal Tournament was born from the game Unreal. And Tactical Ops was born from Unreal Tournament. A mod of a mod. Unreal was a FPS style game that was modified in the late 90’s early 2000’s to be more of a death match style game. Thus Unreal Tournament. Tactical Ops was a skin for Unreal Tournament which stripped the sci-fi from the game and replaced it with terrorists, S.W.A.T., MP5 submachine guns, and Berettas. These games are just an example of how creative a person can be when they wish to modify the rules of a pre-existing game. So much so that multiple sequels are spawned from each one.
The point of the matter is, we should never be comfortable with a game forever. If you can think of a way to change it to make it more interesting, you owe it to yourself to try (at least in your own house that is). Just because a game is played with structured rules, there is nothing that says you need to abide by them. So get out there and mess around with some of your games and see what you can come up with. You might just have an idea that millions of others like.