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Rules & Materials for Ceremony of Surprise

This is a self-com­mis­sioned par­ty game explor­ing per­for­ma­tiv­i­ty – the idea that games can direct­ly act on the world. For more back­ground read the blog announce­ment. For the game rules, read on.

At this time, 21st cen­tu­ry cul­ture is more pop­u­lar then ever before. Recent tran­scrip­tions of ancient infor­ma­tion net­works have pro­vid­ed more insight into those excit­ing years lead­ing up to the end of mankind. In this sim­u­la­tion you will expe­ri­ence how it was to live in those thrilling days. You will par­tic­i­pate in one of the most pop­u­lar but mis­un­der­stood rit­u­als of ancient human­i­ty: “The Sur­prise Par­ty”.

Schol­ars still debate the pur­pose of the Sur­prise Par­ty. It is a com­plex cer­e­mo­ny in which the par­tic­i­pat­ing humans had to “sur­prise” one per­son. To con­duct this event, humans cre­at­ed a com­plex sys­tem. By fol­low­ing the instruc­tions below, you can sim­u­late this won­der­ful cer­e­mo­ny.


Before you can expe­ri­ence a Sur­prise Par­ty, prepa­ra­tions have to be made.

  • Recruit five to nine par­tic­i­pants who from this point onwards will be referred to as “play­ers”.
  • Bring one con­sum­able item that is large enough for all the play­ers. You can choose any­thing, as long as the food is desir­able by all par­tic­i­pants. The ancient humans seemed to pre­fer sug­ar coat­ed dough dec­o­rat­ed with light bulbs.
  • Every par­tic­i­pant of the cer­e­mo­ny should bring two objects from his/her home which can be of use dur­ing the cer­e­mo­ny. Sim­ple dec­o­ra­tive objects such as paper flags and inflat­able rub­bers were very pop­u­lar dur­ing the 21st cen­tu­ry.
  • Human­i­ty used to demol­ish their oxy­gen pro­duc­ing life­forms and ground them to flat sheets which they called paper. On paper humans would use a remote com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nique known as writ­ing. To organ­ise this sim­u­la­tion you will have to fol­low a sim­i­lar pro­ce­dure. Copy the infor­ma­tion in the attached files to sev­er­al sheets of paper. Use a sharp object or sim­i­lar device to divide all the sheets in nine indi­vid­ual pieces, also called cards. There are three dif­fer­ent files: ‘name cards’, ‘action cards’ 500 Internal Server Error

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