What if someone turned asking deep questions, offering sage advice, and exploring spiritual insights into a game?
Well, someone did.
My friends Aaron and Lisa from Studio 9, Inc., along with Julie Burns Walker, co-created a game called CHARMS: A Game of Insight. I knew a bit about it from their Kickstarter campaign, but I wanted to try it myself to see how it worked. So they sent me a prototype. Yay!
The game is played in rounds. In each round, one player—the Quester—draws a Quest Card with four questions on it and chooses which question they want to propose to the group.
Then the Quester chooses nine random charms (from the bag of 25) and tosses them on the board. All charms that fall fully within a category on the board are kept, and any that fall on lines or off the board are removed.
Now the rest of the players look at the charms and where they fell on the board and think of ways to answer the Quester’s question using the meaning of the charms and categories. Each player has a Quick Reference Card to tell them what the charms stand for.
To come up with answers, we found it helpful to think of ourselves as oracles. For example, in our game, one Quester’s question was How can I be more resilient?
On the board above, the heart “love” charm fell on the Community category, the purple gem “courage” charm fell on the Me category, and the green gem “honesty” charm fell on the Friends-Family-Relationships category. (For simplicity, I’ll just use those three.)
So part of my answer to the question of How can I be more resilient? might be, “Be honest with your loved ones about your struggles, and open your heart to the love of people in your community. These relationships will help you find courage within yourself.” I’d try to incorporate as many of the charms and categories in my answer as possible.
Each player besides the Quester writes down their answers to the question on a piece of paper and gives them to the Reader (person to the left of the Quester). The Reader reads each answer aloud anonymously, and the Quester chooses which one he or she thinks is the best answer. Whoever’s answer is chosen keeps the Quest Card for that round, and then a new round begins with a new Quester. After every person has had a turn as Quester, whoever has collected the most Quest Cards wins the game.
The game is made for 3 to 8 players, and geared toward age 12+. We played with four people—two adults, a 15-year-old, and a 14-year-old. All of us thought it was great fun—different than any game we’d played before, but with enough similar elements to gameplay in other games that it didn’t take long to figure out how to play it.
There are alternative ways to play, including a cooperative option where everyone consults as a group about what the charms mean for the Quest rather than coming up with individual answers and keeping score. We enjoyed playing that way almost more than playing competitively. It really did make us think about deep questions and help us gain insights into ourselves and others, and doing it out loud together produced even better results.
If you’re intrigued and interested in snagging CHARMS for yourself, check out www.charmsgame.com.
Games bring people together, and CHARMS takes that bonding experience one step further. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys exploring meaningful topics and good conversation.