What if a party game leads to an actual party? That’s the question we posed ourselves at the start of 2012. We had decided to set apart some time for a self commissioned game. Something that could be shared with the world, and could also be run at game festivals.
The result is Ceremony of Surprise—a performative party game. The premise: you are organizing a surprise party for one of the players. The catch: at the start of the game none knows who that is. Your goal: find out who it is, without giving it away to the other players. It’s a surprise party, after all. At the end of the game, you all shout “surprise” and point to the player you think is it. Whoever guesses correctly gets a share of the cake. We’re talking actual cake. If the ‘surprisee’ guesses herself, the whole cake goes to her.
Throughout the game, you use action cards to gather information. New cards are earned by picking a party item from the pool and having it voted into the party. This is a democracy after all. Just as there is actual cake, these are actual party items brought to the game by players—or the game’s organizer in the case of a festival.
We’ve played this game numerous times with friends and strangers at our studio, events at the Dutch Game Garden and best of all as part of the Hide&Seek Weekender. Wether players know each other or not, the end result is usually a group of people in a festive mood and a pleasant mess of bunting, party hats, music, snacks and whatever else people bring to the game. The cake is an added bonus of course. Any excuse to eat cake is a good one.
We invite you to play the game yourself, or if you like invite us to run a game for you. We’ve published the complete rules, including all the files you need to produce your own set of game cards.