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I made this game up with my brothers when I was 12-14, on a car trip from New York City to Chicago. Any time you are driving in the car with more than one person you can play this game, the game can usually last for about 30-90 minutes. After you announce that the game is on:

  1. Everyone looks around for license plates with mostly letters, take turns who picks so the same patterns in plates don't always come up
  2. Someone who has found "a good one" announces the license plate (e.g. F41-DRA)
  3. People think about how to turn that into an acronym
  4. When one person "has one" announce it. Then give other players a reasonable time 10-60 seconds to finish working on theirs.
  5. When everyone is ready, or others pass go around the car and announce what you came up with (e.g. "Food For 1 Dollar is Rarely Appetizing")
  6. Repeat

Tips:

  • For younger players, only use 3 or 4 letters of a plate (best played after a trip to Washington DC)
  • Don't use plates with numbers to make it easier
  • Encourage the use of X for EX as in exterminate, extraordinary etc.
  • Substitute "for" for "4", "too" and "to" for "2"
  • Substitute letter number combinations for words: "g8" to "great", "2W" to "towards" or "twain"
  • To make it easier, choose plates with lots of high frequency letters (vowels, n, r, s)
  • Allow substitution of zero for letter O
  • Use two letters for one word

Objectives:

  • Teaches optimizations with constraints
  • Show and tell - you will quickly find out what your family finds boring and exciting
  • Teaches the value of "bending the rules" and "thinking outside the box" as the most clever acronyms usually bend the rules a lot
  • Quasi-constructive/Quasi-competitive, each round played gives other players clues as to how to construct more impressive acronyms. Each player wants to have one to present when time is done. Each player wants to have the best acronym of the round.
  • Requires/increases intelligence without knowledge

Its actually a lot like a well-paid service job: Receive problem, Be smart, be creative, be quick, solve problem, turn in work, receive review, repeat, do better next time.

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