Last week I organized a game of “Gotcha” with another student, Rob Zintl. The rules of the game are fairly simple: everybody playing receives a target that they will then try to “get” and in the chance they are successful in this, their target is out of the game, and their new target is the one their previous target was trying to “get.” To win the game, you either want to have gotten the most people, or to be the last person not “gotten.”
Past these basic rules, there are infinite variations of the game. For this specific version, we decreed that to get a person out, a target must be further than 5 feet away from someone else, and to “get” your target you need to be within a foot of them and say “Gotcha.” Dorm wings, classrooms during class and study hours, dish crew and the med room were safe, but all else was fair game. Finally, each day a safety item was announced, something to protect its carrier, as long as its full weight was being supported by that person’s hands. We decided to try out this game during kayak rotations, when campus is much less populated than it normally is. The game began on Tuesday, October 13th at lunch time, with 34 participants, both students and faculty.

As soon as the game started, there was chaos. The first person was out within 10 minutes. People were getting out so fast that it was hard to keep track, and Rob and I had to sort out many arguments on rules, as many people were unwilling to accept being “gotten.” The safety item for the first day was a coconut, and it was very funny to see people carrying them around along with their bags. People actually got rather aggressive on this part, and I witnessed many people stealing and hiding other people’s coconuts. It was also funny seeing people trying to figure out who had them, when I had a complete list in front of me.

As numbers dwindled and people started to figure out who had them, I saw many complex plots unfolding. One girl, who was trying to “get” a researcher at CEI, actually convinced her own research advisor to help draw away her target from other people, and then run, so that the target was alone. Another boy was able to get 4 people out all before morning chores.

However, as the number of surviving players dipped down to 6, everybody had figured out who had them, so everybody knew who to avoid, and alliances formed. Because of this, Rob and I decided to make a change to the rules. We switched up the order of targets, intentionally to break up alliances. There was a lot of confusion at first, but as another person or two got out, people figured out the new order. As the final day or two went by, we began dropping more and more rules, to make the game even harder.

The game finally finished on October 19th, a day before trip rotations shifted. In first place was Menat Bahnasy, and in second was Paityn Wedder. The most “gots” went to Sam Palmisano, with 5 total “Gotchas.” When I asked Menat how she felt after the game, all she said was, “It’s so nice to not have all that stress on me anymore.”