Search and Replace

From Ludocity
Search and Replace
Toffee republic.jpg
Designer: Kevan Davis
Year: unknown
Players: 2+
Stuff required: Category lists. Cameras. Scrabble tiles, or some other physical letters, or just a pen.
Crew required: None.
Preparation: Sorting tiles, preparing handouts.
Time required: Twenty minutes.
Place required: Any urban space.
Activities: Finding, photography, wordplay.
This is a playable game - it's finished, tested and ready to play.
This game is made available under an 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. It's a bit more fun if you can work this into a fill-in-the-blanks story ("A person called [NAME] travelled to [CITY OR TOWN]..."), but a flat list is fine.

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, five or six 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 half 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. Pairs and threes are best, but fours can work at a push.

Hand out the lists and tiles, agree on when the game will end. Around two minutes per category (so twenty minutes if you're using the attached handout) seems to be about right.


A handout for the game. You can put the instructions on the other side so that players remember what to do.

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 letter, by holding up one of your Scrabble tiles when you take the photo. You can't just take straight photos of words that fit, you have to change or add a letter.


When the time is up, all players must return to the starting point and reads out their story - if you were going with a flat list, go through each category in turn, instead. 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. You can vote on "best story" or "best word" as a tiebreaker.


<flickr size="m">ludocity%3Agame%3Dsearchandreplace</flickr>

(These are the ten most recent Flickr photos of Search and Replace. To add your own, just add the "ludocity:game=searchandreplace" tag to your Flickr photos.)

Play history

Search and Replace ran at Sandpit #12 at the Soho Theatre, in June 2009, and at the Hide&Seek Weekender 2010. It ran at Croydon Fun Weekend in 2013 and 2016.