Wednesday, December 21, 2016


To be good with words, you need to first know a lot of different words, and how to use them at the right times. In Week Ten of my 'Drafting Against The Dark Arts' class, I introduced a fun game called 'Sedition'.

And no SEDITION allowed!

* * *

First off, I can't take too much credit from creating this game, because it's largely based on a famous party game called 'Taboo'.


Taboo itself runs along the same concept as 'Win, Lose or Draw' and 'Charades', in that each team races against time to guess what their team member is drawing or acting out. The difference in Taboo is that this representative can speak, and only speak (so let's call the person as the 'Speaker'). Sounds simple? But here's the catch - the representative can't mention the answer (obviously), and also five 'banned words' stated on the card.

The Words That Shall Not Be Named

Sedition is almost like Taboo, except I confined it to legal terms, and threw in a few supplementary rules to make the game more challenging and productive.

Yes, it's a fun and crazy game. But it's really educational too. It test and trains players in three ways:
  • Vocabulary: Having a diverse range of vocabulary makes you better at guessing answers, and describing them when it's your turn as the Speaker.
  • Knowledge: Since the banned words are closely related to the answer, one has to dig deep into one's knowledge to make factual references
  • Advocacy: Good players will pick words that their audience can relate to - a core skill in advocacy.

In Sedition, the Speaker has to comply with 3 basic rules:
  • CANNOT mention the Answer or any of the Banned Words, including their derivatives (e.g. kill, killer, killing)
  • ONLY English sentences allowed
  • NO gestures, drawing, codes, or phonetic cues (e.g. kill, bill, pill)

Each round lasts 60 seconds. The faster a team guesses the answer, the more points they gain (points awarded based on 10-second tiers). Exceed 60 seconds or break any of the rules, and face the penalty.

(So I played out the game with 9 different groups of students separately, using the same set of 5 cards. After the games finished, I gave a summary of the results.)


1. Contract

Banned Words: Agree, Consent, Consideration, Offer, Subject

Pretty easy one. Five teams answered within 10 seconds. Most were clever enough to jump straight to the 'first year in law school' angle. But two teams trip over the trap, when they said "subject". Suckers!

2. Divorce

Banned Words: Marriage, Couple, Separate, Love, Break

All the teams eventually got there, but some did struggle for words. One media-savvy Speaker shouted out "Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie!". That's how worldly knowledge helps.

3. Mens Rea

Banned Words: Intent, Crime, Actus Reus, Motive, Murder

Two teams botched this one up. No team made it within 10 seconds. Crafty Speakers will try the 'antonym approach' - by describing the opposite word instead. But 'actus reus' blocked that path and left many speechless.

4. Genocide

Banned Words: War, Crime, Holocaust, Race, Kill

Yes, this is a real tough one. Four teams went over 60 seconds (and failed), one team barely squeaked through in the last few seconds. And here's one for the highlight reel: one Speaker didn't even know the meaning of 'genocide', yet still went on to lead his team to the right answer. But how? By connecting the banned words together, and making an educated guess - that's how. Well-played indeed!

Clue: It's not a weed-killer (though its supporters may describe it as such)

5. Duty Of Care

Banned Words: Tort, Negligence, Element, Proximity, Donoghue

A deceptively simply one. Most teams repeated the 'first year in law school' tactic, but got stuck after their teammates yelled "Negligence!" Some tried to get around 'Donoghue' by referring to disgusting snails. One team failed to make the cut. Another got it right at the very last second. Heart-stopping, edge-of-the-seat drama right there.

And The Winner Is...

Great effort from all teams, and loads of laughter throughout.

And after all is said and done, the winner of this semester's season of Sedition is...

The team of Ameera, Dexter, Adreena and Low Jia Wei!

Congratulations! Enjoy your grand prize of Famous Amos chocolate cookies!

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