As a colored board is a focus for Monopoly [TM], a camcorder can be a focus for party games.

Charge your batteries; stock up on tape. The Fall and Winter holiday seasons begin this month. Family and friends will soon present themselves, in jovial if not hammy moods, to your all-seeing lens. But before you line up your relatives for another still-shot-posing-as-video, consider this. You could use your camcorder as a tool for making a party video everyone will see a week or two later–maybe–or you could use it as a device that helps make the party itself fun.

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Video Tag

  • Make a name tag for every person at the party. Pin each person’s name tag to his or her back.

  • Hand the camcorder to each person at the party in turn for one minute each. This person is “It.”

  • Each person starts his segment of tape by recording his name and face with the camcorder.

Of course, as in regular tag, everyone is motivated to stay away from “It,” while “It” is motivated to sneak up behind people to shoot them. After each guest has had a turn, play back the tape for one and all. The person who has recorded the greatest number of different name tags wins a box of Cuban Partagas cigars.

What Kind of Fool am Eye

  • Bring party guests, one at a time, into a private room containing a box of five props.

  • Give the camcorder to each guest in turn for a couple of minutes.

  • Instruct guests to shoot each of the props in such a way as to make it difficult for viewers to identify any of them (e.g., extreme closeups, or placed in an array of other objects).

  • Change the props in the box for each guest to make identification harder.

  • As with video tag, each guest should begin his shot by recording his name and face with the camcorder.

After all guests have had a turn, play the tape back for everyone, and ask them to call out identifications of props as they appear on the screen. The person who shot the segment with the fewest positive identifications wins a Jaguar.

Fool, Variation I

Same as “What Kind of Fool am Eye” with this difference:

  • Use people instead of props.

Video Scavenger Hunts

Can be played with one or more camcorders. This works just like the traditional scavenger hunt, except that images are lighter and easier to carry back to the party than are most real objects.

  • Make a list of images to scavenge — or several different lists — such as:

    10 green items

    9 Chevrolets

    8 girls named Sue

    7 people carrying camcorders

    1 partridge in a pear tree

  • Make enough copies so that each guest will get one

  • The judge awards a Lear jet either to the first one to come in with all necessary images on tape, or the one with most creative interpretation, or to the boss’ spouse simply because.

If playing with one camcorder, give it to each guest in turn for only a few minutes. The party will continue as each person drops out for a few minutes to tape. If playing with several cams, you can break the group into teams each with a camcorder and have them all search your home or neighborhood for the images simultaneously. The latter style of play risks emptying your house of guests for the rest of the celebration. This is its inherent drawback, or benefit, depending on the tone of the party.

Video Haiku

Haiku is a 400-year-old type of Japanese poetry. A well-written Haiku is simple in form, but profound in resonance. To amuse all assembled, Japanese hosts have sometimes called on guests to spontaneously create Haikus. By the same token, any host with a camcorder could invite each guest to quickly create a video according to the rules of Haiku poetry.

Simple form:

  • Shoot one image of something enduring.

  • Shoot one image of something fleeting.

  • Shoot one image that somehow ties together the first two, but yet leaves a lot to the imagination.

Elaborate form: This places a single shot where a single syllable is called for in the original poetic rules.

  • Shoot five images of something enduring.

  • Shoot seven images of something fleeting.

  • Shoot five images that somehow tie together the first two, but yet leave a lot to the imagination.

The maker of the best Haiku wins a trip to Tokyo. “How does one judge which is best?” you ask. One must only listen, Grasshopper.

Go ahead; try this at home.

Stephen Muratore is Videomaker‘s Editor in Chief.

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