« The Tipping Point: Salesmen | Main | Bleah »

Book Report: A Kentish Lad

Your Humble Blogger was familiar with Frank Muir from the radio shows My Word! and particularly My Music. It was from listening to My Music, in fact, that I developed my concept of the Maximum Fun Quotient.

Paraphrased bit I actually heard on My Music:
Chairman: [lengthy and obscure question, not about Beethoven]
Panelist: I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know an amusing story about Beethoven. [tells joke about Beethoven in the afterlife]
Chairman: I’m afraid I can only give you half credit for that.

When groups of friends get together to play games, their goal is maximum fun. In most cases, accepting amusing stories about Beethoven for half credit will not maximize fun (if only because the stories aren’t all that amusing). If you are playing Settlers, or Outpost, or poker, waiving rules will result in frustration, not fun. If you are playing Word-O-Rama, or Botticelli, or charades much will depend on who you are playing with, and you can test out various types of rules (and lack thereof) to see which work best with your group. Those sets will tend to be specific not only to a group of people, but to a time and place; a group which will happily play a cutthroat and fierce game of Bullshit at nine in the evening may well play a goofy, giggling one at two in the morning, or vice versa. A group may well find taunting and recrimination, scorn and derision, and gloating to be loads of fun; trying to ‘cure’ them of this will lower their MFQ. Some groups will enjoy taking a lot of time to haggle over a particular interpretation of a rule, while others will hate that and just want to decide something and keep playing. It’s good idea to know which you like, before spending all that time haggling.

The trick, of course, is to remember the MFQ all the time, when picking which game to play, when deciding rule questions, when actually playing, and when discussing the game afterwards. To pay as much attention to whether people are having fun as to the score. To know whether it’s a good time for that amusing story about Beethoven.

Oh, and A Kentish Lad: The Autobiography of Frank Muir (London: Corgi Books 1997) is an entertaining memoir of a fascinating life.

Redintegro Iraq,


Interesting; this expands my understanding of the MFQ. Good stuff.

But one problem I've encountered with MFQ comes when not everyone in a group is on the same page. Most often, that's because some members of the group are, in the context at hand, Strict Rules Interpretationists, while others are Let's Just Have Funists. At a meta level, there are some people who haven't yet been led to the enlightened path of MFQ, and who care enough about Rules (even House Rules that nobody else in the group is familiar with) to enforce them even if they make everyone miserable -- so there can be conflict between MFQers and non-MFQers.

What's your experience with this sort of situation?

Ah, the first step is to explain about the MFQ. Really persuasively. Spread the word. Put it in your blog. MFQ is something everybody needs to know, and to be reminded of, now and then. Print bumper stickers. Design a T-Shirt. Write a theme song. Then, you can maximize fun at home, with anyone!

The second step is to put the Sticklers in one room, and the Goofballs in the other. This is particularly important in mixed marriages.

Seriously, I think that game choice is the most important thing. If MFQers are playing with non-MFQers, try to steer towards a game that is non-competitive (such as Once upon a Time, or Fluxxxxxxxxxx, or Darling if you Love me, Wontcha Please Please Smile (tho' the latter has its own problems)).

Also, it's a good idea to get used to shouting 'House Rules!' before starting any game of any kind; some games (and some houses) won't have any, but it will remind you to talk out those that do. Also, it's a good reminder to thank the host...


Ah, the first step is to explain about the MFQ. Really persuasively. Spread the word. Put it in your blog.

Your wish, etc., etc.

Comments are closed for this entry. Usually if I close comments for an entry it's because that entry gets a disproportionate amount of spam. If you want to contact me about this entry, feel free to send me email.