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Party Game Review: Off Your Rocker

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There are plenty of party games in which players have to guess words from actions (Charades), drawings (Pictionary), and suggestions but not the words themselves (Taboo, Catch Phrase), but few games out there are as deep into improvisation as Off Your Rocker from Stratus Games.

A party game for four to twelve players ages twelve and up taking thirty to sixty minutes to play, Off Your Rocker channels the improv stylings of games such as “Party Quirks” from Whose Line is it Anyway? While there are parties where these games are played, they are exhausting as each person is continually on the spot to maintain character and the “host” must guess who each person is. Off Your Rocker solves a good deal of the difficulty by having the entire group has the same persona rather than all kinds of different directions. The unity provides for much easier understanding on the guesser’s part as well as less pressure for each player to perform.

The game is set up so that one player is the Psychiatrist. He or she leaves the room while the other players, the Patients, draw a card from the deck of “Quirks.” Each side of the card has two Quirks, giving players some room to chose rather than being stuck with something they might not enjoy acting out. Once they have decided, the entire group stays in character as mental patients with conditions such as “Players think they are superheroes,” “Players are obsessed with the 1980s,” and “Players think an asteroid is about to hit Earth.”

The Psychiatrist is called back in and has three minutes to ask questions of each of the Patients, such as “Where are you from?”, “What is your favorite hobby?”, and “What did you do today?” Hilarity ensues. If a Patient ever acts outside of the group’s Quirk, the other Patients call out “You’re off your rocker!” to hint that the Psychiatrist is getting bad information. If the Psychiatrist is able to determine the Quirk of the group, he collects a Point Card. Players then vote on who was the best performer, giving out more points and determining who goes as the next Psychiatrist. So the game continues until the point cards run out or everyone is exhausted.

The wide range of improvisational directions is definitely Off Your Rocker‘s strongest suit. With 800 quirks total, it would be a feat for anyone to complete an entire set, even over years of parties. Even each of the forty Point Cards features a different synonym for insanity. While the issue of making light of actual mental illness may deter some from the game, the cartooniness of the Quirks makes it clear that they are not legitimate disorders but in fact eccentricities.

This is a high-energy, high-creativity game. To quote the rules, Off Your Rocker “is not intended to be a game of 20 Questions, but instead encourages players to demonstrate their Quirks creatively.” Puns are actively pushed by the suggestions in the rules, and obvious answers such as replying “quack” to a question while a duck are discouraged, although it could be hilarious if performed well.

Off Your Rocker is a great game for acting classes or improv troupes. While the average party-goer may not wish to expend so much energy, those who love to get loose and end up in a laugh riot will love it.

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About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.