Adventures & Insights

One man's adventures in the physical and intellectual worlds…

House Rules. Evil.

Don't be fooled by the innocent exterior.

Throughout history there have been games. Simple games like draughts, complex games like chess and all sorts of other games to entertain and challenge participants.

The goal of many of these games was to bring friends together, allowing them to share some fun and give them the opportunity to be gracious in defeat and humble in victory. To assist this kind of personal development, rules were applied to outline the meaning of colours, pieces and other aspects of the game.

For a long time, those rules kept chaos at bay and provided a stable and fair environment in which people could relax and enjoy whichever game they chose to participate in.

Somehow though, the sanctity of “The Rules” was disrupted. We don’t know exactly how, but it is believed that ‘cheaters, cheaters, compulsive eaters’ couldn’t stand the fact that “The Rules” made it more difficult for them to gain and keep the upper hand. From their turmoil arose “House Rules”; an abomination that has at best initiated confusion and disagreement and at worst has driven a bitter wedge between once close friends.

Of course, it’s not always the cheaters who give rise to the “House Rules”. Sometimes, the lack of proper outlining of “The Rules” results in interpretive differences. Furthermore, some of the more compassionate game players try to accommodate siblings or friends by modifying rules to provide a little more flexibility. What is it they say about the road to Hell being paved with good intentions? Yes indeed.

Many games Have clear and succinct rules, able to be understood and followed to the letter by everyone. There are, however, some games that work just as well with a lot of flexibility applied to the existing rules. I’m sure you can all think of at least two or three games that have fallen victim to “House Rules”.

I raise this today because while camping I came face to face with the “House Rules” demon. As a side note, this particular beast should never be dealt with while enduring torrential rain and gale force winds. Try to keep your external environment calm and composed, otherwise you risk falling victim to the turmoil on a mental level as well.

On this occasion, our foe was UNO; a card game for anyone aged 7 or over.

For those who have never played Uno, it is a simple game. So simple in fact that it pretty much has three rules, outlined on the back of the box:

  1. Race to get rid of all your cards;
  2. Use the Action Cards against your opponents;
  3. When you’re down to your last card, don’t forget to yell UNO!

With only three rules you could believe that the game was extremely simple and therefore thoroughly enjoyable. As the cards were being dealt though, clarification of “House Rules” began. Explanations of “The Rules” were scoffed at, eyes were rolled and voices were raised as some argued their case for some interesting options, including the possibility of putting two Draw Twos onto a Draw Four.

As “House Rules” were quashed in favour of “The Rules”, desperation reared its ugly head and at one stage the accusation of not knowing the actual rules was levelled at me when I reiterated that players did not pick up a card each time they played one.

Luckily the bonds of friendship were strong enough to weather that particular storm, but I can easily see where this sort of situation could cost lesser friendships their lives.

Be wary my friends. Even the most innocent lookng games can be tainted by the evil spirit of “House Rules”.

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6 responses to “House Rules. Evil.

  1. The Edmonton Tourist January 25, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    We played “ultimate Uno” This is a variation on “House Rules” – You make up new rules as it works for you. Since everyone can make up a new rule each turn, it makes winning hard because you have to remember and use previous rules. Not for the faint of heart!

  2. bearyweather January 20, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    Simple games with simple rules are the best .. if the point is spending time and enjoying each others company. House rules are for people that are deeply into competition and winning.

    At my brother’s house, Uno has a mechanical twist …. you hit a button on this card dealing box and it randomly shoots cards out at you (0 to about 8). Guess that is a house rule of sorts … but, fair to all.

    • OpentoAdventure January 21, 2011 at 3:56 pm

      I’ve seen the electronic dealer in stores, it looks pretty good! You are right of course, the aim is to spend time together; hopefully that enjoyment isn’t destroyed by some people’s desire to win.

  3. educlaytion January 20, 2011 at 12:40 am

    As a senior in high school, my classmates and I went on an Uno kick for weeks. Someone introduced what was called “dirty” Uno. No, we didn’t have to remove clothing or anything like that. The tougher rules (which I can’t remember much of) including drawing way more than four and I think Reverses meant you passed your entire hand to the next person. As far as I remember no one ever stabbed another player.

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