Victorian Games

game piece

'Be Serious' Games

Patrick Beaver refers to this type of game as "'Be Serious' Games" in his book Victorian Parlor Games, so I use the same name. When I was in Brownies, I think we called them "Stay Serious." The idea is the same. The object of these games is for the players to stay serious even while they and other players do ridiculous things. Laughing and smiling are strictly prohibited! Of course, it's easier said than done, and many people won't last long. Once one person loses their cool, the others will soon follow.

Throwing the Smile


The players form a circle, and one person is chosen to begin the game. The first player smiles at the others for a moment. Then, he rubs his hand over his mouth "to wipe off the smile." With a serious expression on his face, he pretends to toss the smile to another player. The player he indicates pretends to catch the smile when the first player throws it. This player now puts his hand to his mouth as if fixing the smile in place. He smiles at everyone for a moment and then removes the smile and tosses it to another player, just like the first player did. The game continues with players each wearing the smile briefly and passing it on. Players who smile when they aren't supposed to are out of the game. The players who are out of the game are free to smile and laugh as much as they like, which makes it more difficult for the remaining players to stay serious. The winner is the last player left in the game (Beaver 31).

The Laughing Game

Everyone sits in a circle, and they choose one person to start the game. This player says "Ha" in a serious tone with no trace of a smile on his face. The person sitting next to him now has to say "Ha" twice, "Ha, ha," also in a completely serious way. The game continues with each player adding an extra "Ha" and staying completely serious. Anyone who laughs or smiles is out of the game and has to perform a forfeit. Beaver notes that it doesn't usually take long for the entire group to crack up (Beaver 31).

The Sculptor


One player is chosen to be the sculptor, and the other players become his sculptures. He gets to arrange them in whatever poses he chooses, trying to make them look as silly as possible. Once the sculptor poses them, the sculptures must stand perfectly still. The sculptor will go from one sculpture to the next, trying to make them smile and laugh. The sculptor isn't allowed to touch the sculptures at this point (so tickling them isn't an option), but he can do pretty much anything else he wants to while trying to get the other players to laugh. There isn't really a winner for this game, but the first player who moves, laughs, or smiles has to perform a forfeit and will be the sculptor in the next round (Beaver 33).

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