Daily Illuminator

April 20, 2014: Walking And Gaming -- Are We There Yet?

As I've discussed twice previously, my wife (international Woman of Mystery and Doc Savage fan Nikki Vrtis), myself, and our seven-year-old son frequently take walks. When we do, we like to pass the time by coming up with games we can play while trudging hither and yon.

Although we've started trying to introduce 20 Questions to our son, he gets frustrated by it; I don't think he quite gets it yet. ("Okay; I'm thinking of an animal. What's your first question?" "Uhh . . . is it a poodle?" "Try to think of a more general question, son." "Oh. Is it a dog?") Plus, the imposition of a 20-question limit gives him decision paralysis, even though we've never stuck to it.

Still, he's been a bit more interested in what are called "lateral-thinking puzzles," which poses an impossible -- or at least odd -- situation, and challenges players to come up with yes/no questions to figure out what happened. Whoever is posing the question can provide whatever honest answers are helpful, but the most common responses our puzzlers tend to use are "Yes," "No," "Irrelevant," and "I can't answer that"/"Rephrase the question." Classic examples include:

  • "A man is found dead at a table, surrounded by 53 bicycles. What happened?"
  • "A naked man is found alone in the desert, dead, holding a match. What happened?"
  • "Betty is dead on the floor in a room next to a baseball and a puddle of water. What happened?"

Even though they're all hoary and ancient, they're new to our seven-year-old! Since we allow an unlimited number of questions, I don't think he gets as stressed.

So the next time you're walking with friends -- or perhaps waiting in an endless line at a huge gaming convention -- whip out one of these games and kill some time while having fun. And if anyone needs the answers to the above to inflict on their victi- err, player(s), just post to the forums and I -- or another random forum friend -- will help you out.

-- Steven Marsh


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