'Basket Rascals' (Party Game for Terrible Parties Challenge)

Michael O. Varhola

One of the things that makes the “d-Infinity Live!” challenge episodes challenging is that each participant is not just trying to create something, they are competing against other clever people who are endeavoring to do the same. So, it behooves us to go beyond what we otherwise might and do something that is going to stand out compared with the other creations that are going to be publicly presented. 

Amanda Kahl posed our most recent challenge — to create a game that can be played at a party, and in my case an office party — was actually a bit more challenging than I would have expected. At first glance I seemed to get a pretty forgiving category for the “Party Game for Terrible Parties Challenge” when compared to things like “Bridal Shower” (co-hose Clint Staples got "Children's Birthday Party" and has posted here about his "Terrible Party Games for Terrible Brats"). 

For all that I have been to many office parties, however, I cannot actually remember seeing a game played at one. A dimly-lit general purpose room that has had added it twinkling holiday lights and holiday music added to it, along with people milling around and trying to interact with some people and avoid others, also does not seem like an optimum environment for getting attendees to play a game. By tapping into my actual experiences at some specific office parties I have attended, however, I was inspired to create a party game that could be played by the members of a particular department at a company. 

Several years ago I served as a magazine editor of a publishing organization that was a quasi-independent arm of a major Washington, D.C., lobbying group. Most of the people in the publishing wing never interacted with the other people in the organization in any official or regular way, and it was at the annual holiday party that we were all thrown into the same environment — and in fact, where many people were moved to show their true colors. It probably bears mentioning that most of the people in the publishing wing were writers, editors, graphic designers, and other people that tend demographically to lean toward being socially liberal, and that the rest of the organization was made up of people who were largely conservative (our executive director was, in fact, the former of governor of a particularly red state). 

One of the women in our department had trouble moving around and was one of the early owners of a Rascal motorized scooter, which had a large basket mounted behind the chair, and she naturally rode this around while at the party. As the event progressed, some of us were shocked to discover that people from outside our department were deliberately dumping used paper plates and garbage like chicken bones and shrimp tails into her basket! A number of us responded to this affront, and with an effort to not making a scene, to surreptitiously remove this debris. 

My game, titled “Basket Rascals,” presumes a similar situation and someone in a leadership position who would task two or more people to participate and turn an otherwise unpleasant but necessary task into a sort of challenge. It presumes things that were not widespread in those days, to include widespread availability of digital photography and the existence of social media. 

Goals of this game are, in short, to protect vulnerable members of your department from the predatory practices of others, and to publicize the bad behavior of people in other departments while not revealing that you have deliberately done so. 
“Basket Rascals”
Following are the actions that will gain or lose points for participants in “Basket Rascals.” This game has both “front” elements that are played during the party itself and “back” elements that are implemented in the following day and which can actually have an impact on office politics. A good boss will take everyone who willingly participates out for lunch the following week and will contrive a special reward for whoever gets the top score (e.g., letting them take a day off and not charging them leave for it).

1 point: Each piece of offending debris removed from a scooter basket or other pre-approved container (Note: napkins used to pick out gross things don’t count if they weren’t there to start with!)

-1 point: Each time owner of the basket catches you removing things (both because of embarrassment to her and because of unwarranted suspicion it might cast on you).

1 point: Each photo posted to social media that shows someone depositing trash in a scooter basket as a secondary element (e.g., in the background of a photo taken of other people).

1 point: Each photo posted to social media in which someone putting trash into a basket gets tagged by someone other than you. (i.e., to strengthen your case for plausible deniability).