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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

Player of Games, #49: Jenga

How do you stack up?

As has been discussed before in this series, there are certain elements that can introduce added verve to a game. A ticking clock or tumbling sand in a minute-glass, for instance. The lurking sense of imminent disaster with a badly-played turn, with a sense of palpable relief far exceeding jubilation for the victor, and ruinous shame for the loser.

The second of these Jenga has in spades, perhaps more so than any other game. The entire premise of the game is to eat away at a precarious wooden tower, turn by turn and stick by stick, fingers trembling and tower wobbling, until a poorly-chosen or feebly-executed extraction brings the whole operation clattering down in loud, sudden, undeniable failure. It's spectacular, tactile, and fantastic, combining strategy, dexterity, and an inherent sense of structural integrity.

Back when we did such things, I remember my wife and I customizing a Jenga set as a drinking game, with each withdrawn block bearing a Sharpie-inscribed instruction. You know the kind - take a shot, sing a silly song, dance on the table, etc. Come to think of it, I don't remember anybody ever losing that version of the game.

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