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10 Lesser Known Fictional Games

Timothy Hoff . . . Comments

Fictional games have an odd way of carrying over into the real world. There are college Quidditch teams, players of Fallout: New Vegas learn the card game Caravan, and real games of Wizard’s Chess are even starting to pop up. The following entries are those fictional games that don’t have a large following (with the exception of one or two), and they are, hopefully, those with which readers won’t be quite as familiar. So, in no particular order, here are 10 lesser-known fictional games. Be sure to add your own favorites in the comments.




This is the favorite game of Japan/Korea’s World Cup mascots, Ato, Kaz and Nik. Atomball is, I think, the most obscure game on this list. As a result, not much is known about this game, but from the context, it can be assumed that it is similar to football (soccer).



Calvinball Small

The inspiration for this list, Calvinball might be the most well known of the entries. For those who don’t know, Calvinball is a nonsense game from the comic Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson. The only rules that can be discerned from the pages of the comic are that players can make up new rules as the game goes along, and the players can never play the same way twice. Although generally only played by Calvin and Hobbes themselves, in one memorable comic, the babysitter Rosalyn used the first rule (to make an all powerful “babysitter flag”) to great effect to win the game.


43-Man Squamish


Mad Magazine’s answer to the increasingly evil nature of college sports (which are too professional and exclusive), 43-Man Squamish is a large-team field sport, which has enough room for everyone to play. Unfortunately, it was made to be intentionally confusing. As the name implies, the game requires 43 players: one left and one right Inside Grouch, one left and one right Outside Grouch, four Deep Brooders, four Shallow Brooders, five Wicket Men, three Offensive Niblings, four Quarter-Frummerts, two Half-Frummerts, one Full-Frummert, two Overblats, two Underblats, nine Back-Up Finks, two Leapers and a Dummy. As far as what all of these players do on the pentagonal field, known as the Flutney, is beyond me. According to the Wikipedia page, “When an insufficient number of players precludes a regulation 43-Man Squamish match, a simplified version may be played: 2-Man Squamish. The rules are the same, except in 2-Man Squamish, the object is to lose.” Although the game is meant to be unplayable, many colleges across the US have sent letters outlining their efforts to Mad Magazine. Marquette University, for one, reported that 3 of their players had been suspended for “sportsmanlike conduct.”


Assassin’s Guild Wall Game

Assassins Creed - Killer

Another game from the comics, Assassin’s Guild Wall Game comes from the fantasy comic Discworld. The Assassin’s Guild is a school in the comics for, you guessed it, professional assassins. The Guild encourages competition, and has many interesting games, but I have chosen to focus on the Wall Game since some of our readers might be familiar with its inspiration, the Eton Wall Game. The Assassin’s Guild Wall Game, however, is much more aggressive. And with its mix of rock-climbing, dodgeball and squash, it is much more dangerous.



Rosencrantz Amp Guildenstern Dead

While this game has become a staple of improv groups everywhere, its origins are not as well-known. The first example of this game in popular culture was in the 1966 Tom Stoppard play, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. This game is played by creating a conversation out of exclusively questions. Hesitation, repeats, rhetoricals and non-sequiturs are not allowed. If played as in the play, the scoring is similar to tennis. To start a game with friends, simply ask, “Would you like to play a game?” Since in this day and age, they will probably think you are quoting the movie series Saw, you should get an easy first point.



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Lifting comes from the anime/manga comic Eureka Seven. Scub coral, which covers the main planet of the comic, imbues the atmosphere with an energy known as Transparence Light Particles. This energy is used in the comics both for flight-capable vehicles and the extreme sport known as lifting. Similar to surfing, lifting uses a long board, but, unlike surfing, lifting doesn’t take place on water. In addition to being a popular sport in the series, there is also an extensive underground culture of lifters in Eureka Seven.




Throws is essentially 4 player checkers from the novel The White Rose by Glen Cook. The rules are pretty similar to checkers, except that a jump could be denied. Chance is introduced to the game by the players rolling a die before their turn. If a six was rolled, the player could then move any combination of six pieces. Additionally, the board is 4 times its usual size.


Apartments and Accountants


This entry comes from another comic series. Simon the Sorcerer has had great success in Great Britain but, unfortunately, it never really caught on in North America. The basic premise is that ordinary British teen Simon climbs into a magical chest one day and finds himself in a medieval realm called The Magic Kingdom. One group of people within the Magic Kingdom are referred to as the roleplayers. Since these people already live in a world filled with magic and literal dungeons and dragons, they find escape through the role-playing game Apartments and Accountants, in which players go through the more mundane motions of everyday British life.


The Running Man home game


Many games in fiction are mentioned only in passing for the sake of making the story seem more real. In Stephen King’s (then Richard Bachman) futuristic, dystopian novel, The Running Man, a game show of the same name pits contestants against “hunters,” who track them across the United States. If the contestants are caught, they are killed. All of the action is captured on television for the audience at home. Additionally, the audience takes part in the game by providing information on the runner which may lead to his capture and eventual death. Knowing the purpose of the game show only makes figuring out how to play The Running Man: Home Game even harder. Maybe it’s a board game. Maybe it’s a card game. In any case, the whole idea of a public manhunt is an uncomfortable one.


Double Cranko


Double Cranko, from the popular TV series M*A*S*H, is another incomprehensible fictional game. According to the show, it is a combination of checkers, chess, poker and gin rummy. The rules come from a mix of all four games combined. When one character, Radar, asked another, Hawkeye, how to play, Hawkeye replies, “bishops are worth three jacks, checkers are wild, and you have to be 21 or over to open.” Further on in the show, another character, Colonel Potter, realizes that Hawkeye might be taking advantage of the ambiguous rules for his own financial gain.

  • karli


  • Grant Bingham

    Great list, reminds me of when I made a game out of taking a crap. Good stuff. :)

  • Geronimo1618

    Hey c'mon TimJames, CalvinBall surely many people know..??!

    Good list, this. Had never heard of quite a several of them. Gamers like Oouchan must be fairly acquainted with the Assassin's Guild game.

    • Julius

      What does being a gamer have to do with knowing terry pratchett?

      • Geronimo1618

        Sorry I was a bit sleepy when I read the list first. I mean I didn't even read it, just the titles. Now I'm wide awake :D

        Very interesting list and never heard of the guild wall game in AC. Calvin & Hobbes is the most awesome thing ever to happen for comic strips.

        • Julius

          The guild wall game isn't in AC it comes from the Discworld series of terry pratchett. The picture is a bit misleading…

        • mom424

          Agreed. I love C & H. Had the entire collection.

    • oouchan

      You are correct! I am not agile enough to play it though. :)

  • owen

    don't know most of it..but great list..

  • Top Kill

    What about need for speed. I put lives at risk when i drive like this.

  • Maggot

    I don’t know if this qualifies as a “lesser known game" (more of a sport, really), but I gotta go with Death Race 2000.

    • deeeziner

      Beat me to it….But that would be my suggestion as well.

  • Magnumto

    Apparently my life is to focused on…something else – the only one I've ever heard of is Calvinball, and I thought I was an expert on things M*A*S*H. Well written list, and possibly a nominee for a future Book of Bizarre Lists.

    And speaking of games, my college pals and I used to play a game while watching reruns of the old sitcom Bob Newhart. Every time someone said Bob, you had to take a drink of a beer, and every time Roger came over to borrow something, you had to chug a beer. OK, not a classic game and by no means fictional, but entertainment's where you find it when you're a poor college student.

    Hmmm, how about a list of 10 things college students do to survive, short of crime? Selling blood and eating home popped popcorn for meal after meal until payday – those were my two mainstays. Good times…

    • curiouslittlerhino

      Ha! I played a similar game using an episode of Charmed. We would pick a girl and everytime we heard their name we would take a shot. Completely wasted after the the show. Sooo much vomit…

    • trfan01

      I've wanted to play a MASH drinking game. I've planned a Donald Penobscott drinking game for a viewing of season five, just down a drink any time his name gets mentioned the entire season. It would make season five much more fun.

    • Vera Lynn

      I played that too! There were several games like that. And card games like Maui Wowee, and Screw your Neighbor. Good times is right. I loved College.

  • shepardskinsoup

    Number 7, Discworld, is a series of books, not comics. I'm an avid fan but never have I heard of the "Assassin's Guild Wall Game".

    Number 3, Simon the Sorcerer, is a series of adventure games, not a comic. Kudos for mentioning it though. :)

    • Matt C

      I don't remember the Wall Game either… probably a throwaway line or two in one of the books.
      I remember there's a game where they climb buildings and carve their initials into the lead on the roof, with points awarded for the difficulty of the climb – e.g. the North Face of the Patrician's Palace is worth more than the South Face of the Temple of Small Gods.

      • hardcoremilk

        I think it is in The Art of Discworld, but I may be wrong.

    • Geliaebrina

      Yes, there are comics based on the books, that does not make Discworld a comic.

    • Timothyjames

      Ah thanks for clarifying!

  • Andi

    There is the card game called "Vaccination" that is played by the odd family in the book "The Accidental Tourist" by Anne Tyler (as well a the movie version of the book)

  • John

    Calvin and Hobbes is my favorite comic strip. No comic strip makes me laugh as much as that one.

  • Will Trame

    Let’s not forget “Fizzbin” from the second season “Star Trek” episode “A Piece of The Action”.

    • Nic_S

      Fizzbin or Frizzbin? I think it also inspired the name for the frisbee.

      • archworf

        Frisbee was named after the Frisbie Pie Co., whose pie pans were the original flying disks.

    • Megan

      Haha I was going to mention this myself if no one else had… I wonder if anyone has actually come up with proper rules for it instead of Kirk's ridiculously ludicrous ones.

  • Xdarkhorsex

    I love playing grand theft auto in real life.

  • Bilbo

    Wot a shitty list

  • purityshannon

    Thanks for the list.

    Really an eye-opener, i hardly recognize much of these games. Haha good job.

  • Caribdis9

    Where is the "Quidditch" ?????????

    • Geronimo1618

      Nice joke.

  • br0ck

    who gives a fuck

    • Simmy

      Your Mum hands them out like biscuits.

  • Oddjob

    About #2, in Sweden we had a TV show almost like that. 2 people were running from a "tracker". They could only go on buses, trains, airplanes or by foot, not stay in 1 place for more than 24 hours and not cross any path they previously traveled. They got 300kr (35 euro, 46 dollars) each day and had to stay and sleep from 00:00 to 06:00 every day.

    The "runners" had to report their position 3 times a day so the "tracker" had a chance and could also get clues from the public that could call in that they've seen them, and the trackers objective was to get the runners on film.

    After a week running a live show would be shown on Friday where you would look at some of the videofootage both the runners and trackers had filmed that they send in every day.
    On Fridays the runners also had to stay in a phonebooth during the whole live-show. When there was 1 minute left in the show, the tracker got the exact position and if the tracker didn't catch them in time, they could continue another week.

    Was a really fun show and a popular pair of runners would have TONS of people surrounding the phonebooth at the liveshow :P

  • Thorlite

    Player of games by Iain M Banks… Great culture novel about a fictional game. Well worth a read!

  • oouchan

    I've always wanted to play Quidditch. It looks awesome! The first game was played using a type of bird called a Snitch. The bird kept getting crunched so they had to make a magical Golden Snitch to mimic it.
    Yes, I'm a Harry Potter nerd. I've got all the extra books and one is all about the game called "Qudditch throughout the Ages".
    Anyway, I would love to play all of these games especially the Assassin's Creed one. Too bad I'm fat. :)
    I like playing a popular game and then changing up the rules. In college we made up a jacked up game of Uno that involved 4 decks and 6 players. Fast paced and crazy.

    Neat list.

    • Julius

      Quidditch with slightly changed mechanics would be fun. Right now it is designed so that Harry can win the game singlehandedly every time…remove the snitch and/or reduce the points you get for catching it and it would be better.

      • maxxis

        I agree..without the golden snitch,it's just a simple basketball/football played in mid nothings interesting about it..(no offense to HP fans..m/)

    • WHYME!!!

      People actually play quidditch at several US colleges. I remember seeing it when I was at Michigan State. Of course, in print and movies it sounds great, but its a little more frustrating when you get to the field to play 2-hand touch and find it overrun with people running around with brooms between their legs throwing recess balls at each other. Especially the people wearing robes. WTF world, always with the nonsense.

  • Armadillotron

    Am I the only person who thinks that one day, we MIGHT have something LIKE The Running Man? Yeah, say I`m crazy. But we`ve already had Big Brother crap, and the God-awful I`m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!, where "Celebrities," eat Cockroaches, Crocodiles testicles and God knows what else. If people find this crap enterntainment, then maybe in the future we`ll have The Running Man for real? But then again, putting criminals up against hi-tech Hunters isn`t such a bad idea? Instead of Guantanamo Bay, do this kind of thing?

    • mom424

      Sure we will. Think of it as a combo of today's reality crap/shows. Part Ultimate Fighter, part The Great Race, part survivor. All you need is weapons…I forgot, you could throw in that terrible/over-the-top Ultimate Weapons. Running Man for real.

      • Armadillotron

        Well, I`ve heard of Ultimate Fighter, but I haven`t seen it. I haven`t heard of The Great Race either. But if we ever do have stuff like this, I think we should have an annoying as hell host. You did on Big Brother and you do on I`m a Celebrity. And on Big Brother you had some unforgettable moments. Remember George Galloway, and-"now would you like me, to be the Cat?" Funny as hell is an understatement. Would you have that on A Running Man Gameshow? I hope so. And what would we call it?

  • 80s

    A couple of my favourite, fictional games are Eschatology from David F. Wallace's colossal work, "Infinite Jest". It's played on a tennis court and is a combination of hitting tennis balls (which represent atomic weapons) into other player's territories and some sort of number crunching that requires a tower sized computer. Only the main character and his friend know what calculations are needed to determine the effect of a player's strike. When the game is played in the book, it descends into anarchy however, as players begin simply smacking tennis balls at each other.

    My second fictional sport would be Guyball (pronounced Ghee-ball) from the Channel 4 sitcom Green Wing. More can be read about it here:

    • Archie

      GUYBALL!!!!!!!!! YESSSS!!!!!!!!!!

  • undaunted warrior 1

    I have only hear of 2 of them – so Ive learned something today.
    I posted a comment about the toy list yesterday around comment 57 , and it disappeared an hour later, gremlins maybe ?
    Maybe this one will stick

    • mom424

      Y'er baaaaack – I found your comment in the spam folder – I'd say you live near or have an ip in the same range as spammers. All fixed for now.

      • undaunted warrior 1

        You are a star Mom – no you are a suuuuuper star.


      • Maggot

        I’ve had several comments “disappear” in the past couple of days. It really sucks.

  • br0ck

    Since this list is boring here is top 10 kobe bryant plays

  • mom424

    Fine list. I didn't know more than a few of these.
    Richard Dawson was awesome in The Running Man. The only time I've liked him since Hogan's Heroes.

  • vesselman

    What about the card game "fizbin" created by good old James T. Kirk in the original Star Trek?

    Here's a link to the rules :

  • Kiwi

    Good selections, but I would have liked a bit more information as to what it is. I might have included 3d chess from Star Trek TNG, although it may not be lesser known. I've actually played it once, just for the hell of it, and it's a bitch! Although since rules are never given, we made up 9/10 of it. Or maybe 9/11.

    • mandarhobbit

      3D Chess is from Star Trek the Original Series, it was brought over into TNG. It was one of Spock's favorite games.

      • gav1

        But think of the FUN you could have sneaking #3 into your friend's carry-on luggage!!!

        • gav1

          Oops, somehow, yesterday's reply got put here by mistake! Anyway, what I REALLY wanted to say was that 3D chess was around long before Star Trek. But I believe the board they used on the Enterprise was a unique and original design.

  • Woo! Lifting! I love Eureka 7!

  • kimbarr

    Is anyone else bamboozled?

  • Enter text right here!

  • Timothy Hoff, next time you write a list you have to do more research. This had to be one of the most dull lists I have ever read, and it's not because of the subject matter. It's because no single entry on this list had enough information. I literally had to go Google search every single entry. If you're writing a list about games, maybe you should research how the games are actually played, instead of admitting within the article that you don't know how they're played. Just a suggestion.

  • trudel69

    i like tetra-master myself (from FFIX)

  • General Tits Von Chodehoffen

    HAHAHA the running man made this list!

  • Lurker

    I like to play and watch Kallisball, which isn't really a fictional sport but rather the unofficial name for cricket (Jacques Kallis is such a gun).

  • Joeschmoe

    How about Baseketball

  • Lammy_Heckler

    One of the best moments in "Calvin and Hobbes" comic strip was them playing Calvinball with Rosalyn:

    Rosalyn: "You're just making it up as you go along!"
    Calvin: "Run, Hobbes! She has touched the pillar of wisdom!"
    Rosalyn: "Ohhh…"

  • allyb10

    I've actually played #6 with friends before. It seems like it would be dumb or get boring really quickly, but it can actually be quite entertaining.

  • trfan01

    Hah, I was wondering if the no rules MASH game was going to end up on the list. Glad to see it did. :D

  • Why Not?

    can someone explain in detail how to play questions?

    • Vera Lynn

      Would you like to play a game?
      To what end?
      Can we bet on it?
      What should we bet?
      What ideas do you have?
      What can you afford to lose?
      How much money do you have?
      etc etc etc

      • Why Not?

        I think they did that in Megamind. When Megamind and Metroman are talking, it was right before Roxie says ok girls you're both pretty.

  • Interesting list. I do think that Pai Sho from "Avatar the Last Airbender" should be included as an honorable mention though (!) :)

  • luek

    why is blitzball not on there!

  • UselessCamper

    What about Azad from Iain M. Bank's Player of Games?

  • Leo F

    Surely Quidditch deserves a spot? Mentioned but not put into the list!

    • soph123

      Quidditch doesn't exactly qualify as 'lesser known'…

  • smilesandstaches

    Haha! That's really funny! I always did try to figure out Double Cranko….

  • Crumpet

    Where is scratch wood scratch? The game where you scratch wood and the rule book is as thick as a phone book…

  • jackson

    wheres Quiddich

  • anon95

    You shoud've at least put blitzball on there, from the novel "A Separate Peace."

  • kokopelli1000

    Although it's not as obscure now that the series is more popular, there's always the Hunger Games, from the series of the same name by Suzanne Collins. It's fantastic, I recommend it to anyone. It's suspenseful and emotional. While reading the second one, I couldn't sleep until I finished it.

    • soph123

      I was going to suggest that one too, but I don't really agree with your recommendation- the first one was great but she ran out of steam after that.

  • Pablo

    Calvin Ball is the only sport in here that doesn't suck asshole, no offense, but seriously, shitty list. That is drunk me, and drunk me is usually right. the rest of the sports on here are just rip offs of shit. I have wiped better sports than this. Double cranko is pretty funny, but other than that? Anime, really? What are you prepubescent boy? Holy Shit, I hate your list. J frater, what happend to you making all the list.

  • chrom3d

    this list rreally sucks, promise..

  • fak


  • Pablo

    I guess my comment was a little harsh not to be posted, but seriously, did you find this list on the back of a cereal box? That is how much thought went into it.

    • Timothyjames

      It justwent into moderation for language. Its there now though. Sorry you didn’t like it.

    • Himanshu

      Cool sites…[…]we came aocrss a cool site that you might enjoy. Take a look if you want[…]……

  • How could you leave The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy's Brockian Ultra-Cricket off the list?

  • Here's another good one, "Dazzle Dart" from Malcolm Jameson's story "Bullard Reflects". The book "The Infinite Arena" An anthology of stories edited by Terry Carr is nothing but fictional sports and games.

  • Here's another good one, "Dazzle Dart" from Malcolm Jameson's story "Bullard Reflects". The book "The Infinite Arena" An anthology of stories edited by Terry Carr is nothing but fictional sports and games.

  • Tasha240

    What about "cups"? From Friends, invented by Joey

  • kym

    Whackbat from the fantasic mr fox is another lesser known fictional game. Complicated rules and lots of players.

  • iiiiiimmmmmmmm back

    hiyou guys never played hide the sausage? Another great game is guess the Asian( a driving game)

  • One

    No Fizzbin?

    • krypto092108

      Anybody here up for a rousing round of Fizzbin?

      • Hayato

        Congrats guys, nice to see it floramized. =)Looking forward to your glorious future implementations of pure fun.

  • fakebrock

    I hate your boyfriend and hopes he slides under a gas truck and tastes his own blood- you fake [email protected]

  • LM

    #6 Questions: If I heard “would you like to play a game?”, the first answer that would come to mind is “Global Thermonuclear War”. Hopefully I’m not the the only one who thought of the “War Games” movie instead of “Saw”.

    • copperdragon

      "how about a nice game of chess…"

  • Mornington Crescent!!!

  • JesterRaiin

    How about a board game from Robocop I. It was called “Nuk’em”

  • Glowbug

    I'm a little surprised that Sabbac didn't make the list.

  • Geoff

    How about the laser game from enders game? I always wanted to play that.

    • Martin

      TOTALLY! as well as the memory game with the giant and all that stuff that he played with his computer.

  • zak

    D### right Rosencrantz and Guildenstern! The movie based on the play is excellent, and when they’re playing questions they do it on a tennis court while pretending to whack a ball as they asked the questions. Other than that ok list. I have to question why you would put some waveboard game from an anime and not Blitzball from Final Fantasy 10. You’re already going down the weeaboo path, might as well go all the way eh?

  • I'd add Cripple Mr. Onion, the most common card game on the Discworld, played by witches, wizards and just about anyone else :-)

  • Corwin

    I'm glad you mentioned Squamish.

  • Wackbat from Fantastic mr. Fox

  • erdem


  • erdem


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  • mk

    How about blitzbal from a separate peace

  • Gracie

    What about Blitzball? From A Separate Peace by John Knowles?

  • ammar

    Very interesting list and never heard of the guild wall game in AC. Calvin & Hobbes is the most awesome thing ever to happen for comic strips.The picture is a bit misleading…How To Burn Calories

  • blackirish56

    Here’s a couple of obscure ones:

    In the ’70s, there was a movie called QUINTET, with Roy Thinnes. In an ice filled future, people played a game that had a diminishing number of safe spaces as you advanced up the game space. What really wacked things out was when people started playing the game in real life because of diminishing resources.

  • blackirish56

    oops. here’s the other one:

    In Star Trek novels, there is an outstanding book by the late John M. Ford called The Final Reflection. The Klingon culture is examined in detail and the game ‘klin zha’ referred to frequently. They play many variants, including a live version with potentially fatal hand to hand combat.

  • Lynnwood Elliott

    Diverting enough list, but shouldnt a list of more-recognized fictional games come first? Rollerball, Jugger from “The blood of heroes”? The game from “Quintet”? These all deserve some mention somewhere.

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