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Board Game: Idea Spaghetti

How it works: The more ideas we think up, the more likely it is we’ll have a good one. In this game the object is not so much to come up with a solution to a problem but to train our brains (in fact, it’s a ‘brain-train’) to generate lots of ideas (or spaghetti).

How to play: Players pick a fork and, by following the spaghetti strand to the ingredient it is attached to, see how many ideas they need to come up with in five minutes. In the warm-up round players should pick problems from the list below and then, when they’ve got the hang of generating lots of ideas fast, they can try it on a problem of their own choosing. They play four rounds, picking a different idea topic for each round and a different prong on their fork. They earn a point for every idea they come up with greater than the number they’re required to, and lose a point for every one that falls below. So, if the ingredient says 12 ideas are required and they come up with 15 ideas, that’s 3 points, but if they only come up with 10, they lose 2 points.

How to win: Players have five minutes per round, and after four rounds the player with the greatest number of points wins!

Another version of the game is a bit of a do-it-yourself game that doesn’t involve a board at all, just some bits and bobs you should be able to find around the house. First, cut up some small pieces of card into the shape of ingredients – like mushrooms, tomatoes, ham, cheese – and write on each one a topic to generate ideas for. Challenges could, for instance, be coming up with ‘new names for pasta’, ‘uses for a brick’, or ‘ways to generate power’. Players can choose to come up with their own challenges or use the list of suggestions given below.

Again, players will have five minutes to come up with as many suggestions (or as much spaghetti!) for each challenge as possible. But first the players have to pick up one of the ingredients from the bowl to decide which topic they’ll be generating ideas for. Attach a metal paperclip to each piece of card and place all the ingredients on a plate or in a shallow bowl. Now find some small magnets (maybe from that Travel Scrabble set, or perhaps fridge magnets) – one per player – and tape them on to pieces of string. (How long is a piece of string? In this case, about the length of a strand of spaghetti.) Tie the other end of the pieces of string on to the prongs of some forks and – hey presto! – we’re ready to play. Players simply dangle their spaghetti strands into the bowl to choose the ingredient they’ll be using for their idea spaghetti.

Topics for ideas: Make me healthier; improve my neighbourhood; get-rich-quick schemes; impress the boss; work less; have more sex; use the car less; improve air travel; titles for a new movie; new names for pasta; ideas for new national holidays; ways to make me famous; save energy; fun excursions; titles for a new song; get more sleep; uses for a brick; names for a new restaurant; helping the homeless; theme hotels; reality TV shows that ought to be made; saving money; things they should teach in school but don’t; generating power; April Fools’ jokes; making parking easier; ruling the world; titles for your autobiography; saving water; odd adventure holidays; weird ice-cream flavours; silly gadgets.

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