Stupid games

In my university days, my friends and I became obsessed with a game called Slackjaw, in which two contestants stare at each other with their jaws slack, and the first person to smile loses. If it goes on too long, a third person announces “slackjaw dance!”, and the contestants have to dance while keeping their jaws slack.

Slackjaw is an example of a “stupid game”: one that is played for the pleasure of failing. Other examples are Twister, Broken Telephone, Jenga, and most drinking games.

Interestingly, even though the most fun part of a stupid game is when you lose, it’s only fun if you are genuinely trying to win. Stupid games are just one example of activities that engender striving play.


Nguyen, C.. (2019). Games and the Art of Agency. Philosophical Review. 128. 10.1215/00318108-7697863.

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