Search and Replace
|Search and Replace|
|Stuff required:||Category lists. Cameras. Scrabble tiles, or some other physical letters, or just a pen.|
|Time required:||Ten minutes upward.|
|Place required:||Any urban space.|
|Activities:||Finding, photography, wordplay.|
|This is a playable game - it's finished, tested and ready to play.|
|Attribution-Noncommercial Creative Commons licence. (What does this mean?)|
Grab a set of lettered tiles and head out into the city, to twist the roadsigns and headlines to your will.
Prepare a category list for each player - this should be a list of ten or so categories (such as: food, a city, a boy's name, an animal), which the players will try to find words to fit.
If you've got the resources, give every player a handful of Scrabble tiles, or equivalent lettered objects - it needn't be a full alphabet, seven or eight should give a good balance of freedom and challenge. If you're on a low budget, you can just give people pens, and a number of cardboard squares equal to the number of categories. (And if you're playing this on an unprepared whim, players can just write letters on scraps of paper, or their fingers.)
If you've got a lot of players, if not everyone has a camera with them, or if you just want a more social game, you can group people into pairs or teams, each team working together as if they were a single player.
Hand out the lists and tiles, agree on when the game will end, and start searching.
Given a list of categories, you must find words or phrases that fit those categories, in the environment around you. Shop names, roadsigns, posters, newspaper headlines, café chalkboards - any printed or pre-existing written material is fair game. Find it, and take a photo of it.
The only restriction is that you must change or add one or two letters, by holding up one or two of your Scrabble tiles when you take the photo. You can't just take straight photos of words that fit, you have to change the letters a bit.
When the time is up, all players must return to the starting point. You should then go through each category in turn, and have each player call out the word they took a photo of. If anyone doubts a word, they can challenge it - the player who came up with it has to show their camera screen to the other players.
For each category you get a photo for, you get one point. If there's a moderator running the game, they can veto any word photos that they feel are too tenuous. If you're playing without a moderator, the players can call a vote on anything that's dodgy.
Whoever has the most points wins.
Instead of giving players a bland list of categories, you can work them into a short story where the players have to fill in the missing words, and give these out as handouts. This also allows a vote on "best story" as a tiebreaker.
Search and Replace ran at Sandpit #12 at the Soho Theatre, in June 2009.