Secret games to play when you're bored in public

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Aw, what a sweet game.


I didn’t know that Reddit could be that wholesome.


“Laughing on the bus, playing games with the faces
She said the man in the gabardine suit was a spy
I said, be careful, his bowtie is really a camera”

  • “America” by Simon and Garfunkel

I forget with who in my family i used to play this as a kid when i’d go to Caracas to see relatives but the game we played from up high in one of my relatives’ apartments was to look out the window, we’d all pick a car color and see how many cars of that color would drive by within a certain time frame.


i love that game. what a wonderful way to generate compassion, which is something we’re sorely needing these days.


And I thought I was being wholesome by counting the cats I’m able to spot in a day.
(And I’m not gonna tell you my highscore, it would break the game for you, it was so epic)


(My partner and I have a new, stupid game that makes us smile–when we’re watching sports together, we add an “N” to players’ last names.)

This is funny. I’m a fan of the EPL team Tottenham Hotspur. They’ve had a number of players in the past couple years who’s last names start with “N” followed by another consonant that would be considered unusual in the English language, such as Nkoudou, and Ndombele. A common joke on the forum I frequent is to add and N to the front of other players’ last names, like Harry Nkane and Danny Nrose.


But MY game is collecting people’s high scores in their secret games!!


I have imagined or invented backstories for strangers I see, or had a friend and myself “fake lip read” when we see two people talking to each other at a distance, with the standard dada-esque results.

[ETA: interesting, some of the games they mention on that reddit thread I have done, never considered them “games” but just me talking to myself.]


This is great! I really enjoy games that can be played with simple rules and no equipment. At one place of employment, a group of friends and I would run through scenarios of how to get out of the building if it suddenly were turned on one end (for example, the east side of the building was suddenly “up”, putting gravity at the west end of the building). The challenge was to describe a plausible way of moving through a sideways-oriented building. I still play this mental game in various buildings I find myself in, and internally rate buildings based on how challenging they would be for the game.


The varsity level of this game would be trying to do it with a right-wing demagogue as the subject. If you can pull that off, your empathy skills are better than mine.

“I’m picturing Trump lying on the floor, playing with a dozen puppies. How about you?”

“I’m picturing him handing out blankets to the homeless during a stormy winter day. How about you, Pensketch?”

“I’m picturing a group of homeless people warming themselves around his burning body. I suck at this game.”


I’m imagining him bathing in their blood so he can preserve his disgusting orange rhinoceros hide.

Smallpox blankets? Isn’t that a bit amateur hour for him?

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Me, too. A friend introduces me to a game she calls “Essence.” One person is “it” and leaves the group for a second (or closes eyes and plugs ears) while the rest of the group decides who the “subject” will be (has to be someone in the group, including whoever’s it).
Whoever’s “it” then asks each person in turn a question to try to figure out who the subject is, “If this person were a(n) X, what kind of X would they be?” Fill in X with anything: snack food, sock, hat, marine mammal, smoking implement, you get the idea. After a few questions, “It” tries to guess who the subject was. It’s really fun.


When i lived in Vegas when i would go out for drinks with my best friend we would try to spot out-of-towners and invent backstories to them. Especially if they were talking with someone we’d fabricate a whole scenario of what was going on.


The Melendys play this “Essence” game (by another name, or no name) in one of Elizabeth Enright’s books for kids. I remember Rush deciding that Greta Garbo would be an onion – a beautiful, creamy, perfect onion.

You can always do your Kegels anywhere.


Here’s a game I have played while walking empty handed to my old car in the parking lot.

It goes like this. If you see a really nice car, that you really wish you owned, just walk up to it as if it’s yours. All you need to do is lift the handle, open the door, and step in. Tesla X? Walk up to it as if you OWN it. A '62 Comet, you are going to reach through the window, unlock the door, pull it open, and jump in. Ferrari, I dare you. It’s yours, just walk up to it, and you feel as if you really going to peel out. Mach II, Javelin, a Mercedes? A BMW? Stroll on up! Look over your right shoulder, look over your left… See who’s looking, while you are about to drive off in your very own BMW!

I haven’t played this for awhile, but this secret game I played used to fill me with the pride of ownership, when, just before touching the handle, at the last second, I changed course and walked toward my good, old Corolla.

treating a clock like a slot machine/poker hand is a fun way to give yourself a random win if you haven’t had one in a while. the thing is be honest with yourself and don’t game the system by knowing how close a good result is. any time you are sure you don’t know what time it is hope for a winning combination of numbers.

I started this a year and a half ago and been trying to keep it under wraps as I develop the list of what counts as a winning result BUT this topic is too good a chance to mention the game.

1:11 or 11:11 etc pretty good but I like rotatable things like 6:29, 9:26, 6:59, 9:56, etc. I find some look flipable but aren’t and maybe you should suffer a penalty for a false claim like in some card games.

the only tiny concern I have is that some one some where will turn it into a part of their psychosis or faith based system whereas I really really really understand this is never significant of ANYTHING of any useful relevance to the real world.

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Whenever I go out, my brain entertains me by having backstories for everyone and everything I pass. It’s part of the continuous movie in my head.
It gets distracting sometimes.


When I’m out, I’m sitting somewhere and need to stay there a while, I start analyzing the tactical aspects of the situation and running scenarios. Where are there items that provide cover and/or concealment? If someone opens fire from X location, where do I go and what do I do? Of the people within sight, which look most likely to nut out? Where are spots where someone could be hiding waiting to spring an ambush? Where are spots that a sniper might be likely to use?

Yeah, I know you’re going to call me sick. I don’t care. It’s saved my skin twice.