Erica Marx

Wrong Name

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Players call out the wrong name for objects



Notice how challenging it is to refute our default beliefs


From Ted's blog:
This game builds the spontaneity muscle in an eat-your-spinach kind of way: it’s tough and can prove exhausting but builds a capacity for spontaneity in its purest form.

Start by having participants mill comfortably around whatever space they have. Then, for a first round, have them point to random objects around the room, shouting the name of whatever the thing is that they’re pointing to: “Desk! Doorknob! Trash can! Table lamp! Carpet! World map! Laptop!,” and so on.

Then, loosen them up with a second round where they say the name of the previous thing they’ve just pointed to. So if I were to start by pointing to the desk, I would then yell “Desk!” when pointing to the doorknob and “Trash can!” when pointing to the doorknob. See if they can get a good rhythm going there.

Lastly—and this represents the real challenge—have them point to objects and shout the name of anything else but that object’s real name. In this case, you could begin by pointing at the desk and yelling “Watermelon!” Or pointing to the doorknob and shouting “Cartwheel!” Offer a little demonstration and toss in a few abstract nouns as well, just to introduce the possibility of a wider vocabulary range. “Poverty!” when pointing at a coffee mug or “Alertness!” when pointing to a windbreaker on the wall.

In the ideal, this game taps into a streaming flow of non-linear utterances. To that end, encourage speed. Use the physical movement of the point to propel the word out of the mouth. Better to shout a fast and declarative non-sensical sound than to wait several beats for a “good” word.

Along those lines, try to limit any sense of judgment on words that come out, as in which are “better” or “worse.” Allow and observe repeats—always a good opportunity to see how the mind works! Odds are, any “Hey I’m doing well!” thought will snap folks right out of the flow anyway.

Discourage participants from pointing at people, especially for the last round. You want to avoid the accident (or the intention) of something unpleasant or hurtful coming out—yelling “Idiot!” when pointing at a classmate, for example—even if it technically qualifies as “the wrong name.”

Ask if anyone’s ‘strategizing’ to get themselves through. For example, I find this game much easier if I find my non-related words by moving through the alphabet: “Apple! Baseball! Carrot! Denver! Egg! Fahrenheit!” and so on. This can be a helpful aid for those who are struggling or a limiting crutch for those who could stand to push themselves further. Use such strategy as you see fit.

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