8 games that midlifers play... from emotional charades to 'cancel chicken'

Annabel Rivkin and Emilie McMeekan
Grown-up games  - Abel Mitja Varela

Cancel chicken 

The date has been in the diary for some weeks. It’s raining. It’s chilly. You are hormonal. Well, you think you are but it could just be your horrible personality. Anyway, it’s 4pm and… silence. No one has confirmed. This, my friends, is cancel chicken, and you are a player. Will it be you? Will it be them? There are various ways to play this game:

a) The normcore: ‘I’m so sorry but I’ve got a terrible headache/deadline/flood.’ 

b) The manipulator: ‘Can you face it? It’s freezing and I’m oddly tired but I’d love to see you.’ 

c) The hardcore: Nothing. Nada. Zilch. This is real hardball. Because you might have to stick to the plan (imagine the horror), but you might win and get a cancel in the bank if they break first, which is a very comfortable place to live. 

Where's Wally?

Except Wally is not that lovable red-and-white-striped rogue who’s always so hide-and-seeky, but your car. And you are in a car park. An underground one. And you have no idea where it is. It is late and only getting later. Where is your car? Actually, did you even drive? Are those footsteps behind you?

Sleeping lions

How long can you lie down for and hope/expect/pray just to be left alone. If you were three years old then you would twitch after a couple of seconds. But you are not three. So you can probably keep at this one for at least… oooh… a couple of million years. The object of the game is to get everyone to please go away. And, if you are good at it, it is super fun. Like, the most fun.

Snakes-and-ladders dating

Just a swipe of a phone screen and whoosh… Are you going to whizz up the ladder to dating heaven, step by step, in a measured fashion with a man who is good at DIY and financially secure? Or will you slide down a slippery snakey pole? And not in a fun way. This game’s currency is hope. And that’s what makes it so perilous...

Emotional charades

Why can’t they guess what you’re feeling? Why don’t they know? Do you have to actually act it out? As in… ‘It’s a film… It’s one word, two syllables… First syllable sounds like “eye” and second syllable sounds like “throw”.’ Then mime some deranged stabbing. And then leave, hop in an Uber to the airport, get on a flight and never return. (*Answer below.)

Egg roulette

You have a carton of eggs in the fridge.  A veritable eggstravaganza. How long have they been there? Hmm. Their provenance is uncertain. Which egg will be marvellous and muscle-giving and lean-encouraging? And which egg is not merely rotten but is actually a  partially developed emb-can’t even type it. These are cartons full of grenades...  

Phone jeopardy

There you are, minding your own business, wondering why you haven’t spoken to anyone and why you feel so lonely, when… What on earth is that terrible ringing sound? Do you have late-onset tinnitus from all the clubbing 20 years ago? Oh, it’s the phone. ‘Unknown caller.’ Should you answer it? Will it be PPI? Your accountant? Or a lawyer from abroad announcing that an estranged cousin/uncle has left you  £5 million pounds? So exciting.  

Fantasy Monopoly

This isn’t a board game… It moves from online to real life, a bit like Pokémon Go. You start with a deep Zoopla dive (price: £0 – no max limit) and evolve towards actual physical house porn, which sees you driving around, parking outside, killing the lights and… looking. You have a get-out-of-jail-free card, so it’s fine and actually not creepy at all. Just jolly good fun. Then you buy the entire street. Don’t you? In fantasy Monopoly...

*Psycho. Clearly.