On the Road Again


Car Games. We don’t play as many car games as we used to on road trips because there are so many wonderful books on tape. However, if the road trip is over 12 hours, you just might run through everything you’ve got.

CONTACT. I learned about this game years ago on the xkcd blog and we’ve been playing it ever since. Someone chooses a word, usually a noun, but there is room for variations on a theme. The goal of the game is to figure out the word but getting there is a little twisty.

The Chooser tells everyone whether the word is a person, place, or thing and the first letter. She chooses “cartoon,” so she would say, “Thing, C.” And the game begins.

Players are not allowed to just start listing “C” words; you have to describe/define them and the Chooser will answer you. For example:

Player A: Is it thinly sliced cabbage?

Chooser: No, it is not coleslaw.

You could go on forever like this. The trick is you want to think of something you and another player know that starts with “C” that the Chooser doesn’t. This is the crux of the game and where things get interesting.

Player B (thinking of “contrition”): Is it a state of feeling remorseful?

Chooser: uh…

Player A: CONTACT!

After someone says “CONTACT,” we allow 10 seconds for the Chooser to come up with something. If she can’t, then Player A says, “Contrition,” and Player B confirms. We usually do this on the honor system but you could have both players say their word simultaneously. There is no penalty for a bad CONTACT.

If it was a successful CONTACT, then the Chooser must give the second letter to the word. “CA,” she says. All questions must now have answers that begin with “CA.” You go on this way until you force the Chooser to give you the entire word or you guess it properly.

One thing that the Chooser can do is subvert the question. It is perfectly legal to answer something plausible but not what the questioner intended.

Player A (thinking “cave”): Is it a place where bats live?

Chooser: No, it is not a cabin.

Since a cabin is conceivably a place where a bat could live, that’s a legal answer. Player A will just have to come up with a better question that forces the Chooser to say “cave” if Player A does indeed believe “cave” is the actual word.

You can use childhood memories, tv characters, or what you had for dinner last night as fodder to stump the Chooser.

We have had a lot of fun with this game over the years. It is challenging enough for the grown-ups but even young kids can ask “Does it have whiskers?”

I’d love to hear how you like this game!


*It is imperative that you actually know how to spell the word because there is much frustration when you don’t.

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