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Contact is a word-guessing game for three or more players.

In Contact, one person (the "wordmaster" or "target word person") thinks of a word (the "target word"), and the objective of the other players is to guess that target word, one letter at a time, by giving clues hard enough to stump the wordmaster but easy enough that another player can "make contact" with the clue. Some amount of cooperation is needed among the other players, because a guess must be seconded by another player (by stating "Contact!") in order to be "challenged" by the wordmaster.

Contents

Rules

Play begins when one person chooses a target word (generally restricted to improper nouns), and announces the first letter. Other players then think of words that begin with that letter, and one may propose a clue for a not-yet-guessed such word (the "guess word" or "clued word"). Several versions of Contact exist, differing in the characteristics of these clues:

  • In the most common version of Contact, a clue can comprise any actions, words, or sounds that all players can hear and (if necessary) see.
  • In another version, the clue must ask whether the target word has certain characteristics.
  • In another version, the clue must be a definition for the clued word.

The wordmaster then attempts to identify the clued word. If the wordmaster thinks of a word that satisfies the clue, the wordmaster will say "It's not [guessed word]," and a new clue must be given. There are variations how closely the wordmaster's guesses must satisfy the clue:

  • The wordmaster must think of the clued word. The protection against vague clues is that another player must get the same word.
  • The wordmaster can give any word that fits the clue.

These versions are actually equivalent, since if the clue-giver in the second version wishes, he can repeat his clue until the wordmaster guesses the clued word or gives up. Given their functional equivalence, the first version is more common since it does not require frequent repetition of "I repeat my clue."

Simultaneously, all other players attempt to identify ("make contact with") the clued word, and any players who think they know the clued word can say "Contact!" If the wordmaster cannot identify the clued word (indicated by saying "challenge") and at least one "Contact!" occurs, the "contacted" guessers (including the initiator) simultaneously say their words. The wordmaster must say the next letter of his word if, depending on the version:

  • At least one of the contacted guessers says the same word as the initiator.
  • All of the contacted guessers say the same word as the initiator (although this discourages multiple contacts).
  • A majority of the contacted guessers say the same word as the initiator.
  • At least two respondents say the same word.

If the target word is ever said by any player, the players win and the game is over. The wordmaster cannot win. The player who first guesses the target word usually becomes the wordmaster for the next round.

Other variations include:

  • Once at least one player has made contact, the wordmaster may be limited to a fixed number of guesses, usually three.
  • Once at least one player has made contact, the wordmaster may be limited to a fixed time, usually one minute.
  • The players may be limited to a fixed number of clues, usually twenty. The wordmaster wins if the players do not guess the target word by this time.
  • The players may be limited to a fixed number of clues, usually ten, per letter given by the wordmaster. The wordmaster wins if the players do not earn another letter of the target word by this time.
  • For each "contact" beyond the first that is correct when the wordmaster cannot identify the guess, and additional letter in the target word is given. No letters are given if multiple contacts are offered and they are not all the same, even if at least one is correct.

Play continues in this fashion until the target word is completely revealed or said by anyone playing.

Example

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Beginning of the game and the wordmaster correctly identifies a guessed word

  • The wordmaster chooses a target word of "elephant" and announces to the players the first letter is "e"
  • The first player mentally guesses the target word to be "eskimo," and checks it against the wordmaster by asking "Do I live in an igloo?"
  • The wordmaster correctly respond to the guess by saying "It's not an eskimo"
  • Play continues with the next player making a guess

Beginning of the game and the wordmaster incorrectly identifies a guessed word

  • The wordmaster chooses a target word of "elephant" and announces to the players the first letter is "e"
  • The first player mentally guesses the target word to be "eskimo," and checks it against the wordmaster by asking "Do I live in an igloo?"
  • The wordmaster either:
    • Incorrectly responds to the guess by saying something like "It's not an emu" (or any word beginning with "e" that is not eskimo)
    • Fails to respond
  • Any player besides the one that initiated this round may say "contact" to signify she believes she knows the guessed word (that may occur anytime after the round has begun)
  • The initiating player and any that made contact (depending on rule variations) simultaneously announce their guessed words
  • If they successfully make contact, the wordmaster reveals the second letter of the target word to be "l"
  • Play continues with players making guesses using words that begin with "el"

See also

  • I spy - simpler variant.

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