It is no secret the usefulness of using games to learn Italian (and any other language). Today we will show a very review of some of those games, including a brief explanation on how they are played, even though many readers will recognize most of them at sight.
For example, we hold high expectations that everybody knows this, among the most famous Italian vocabulary games, as Scrabble (Scarabeo in Italian) is a staple board word game. Created in 1938, it allows 2-4 players. By aligning tiles horizontally (left to right) or vertically (downward), the players can form words that must exist in a dictionary or lexicon, e.g. no neologisms are permitted.
In the game, points are assigned per letter tile depending on the frequency of occurrence of the said letter in the language to be played: for example, in Italian, there are 14 “A” tiles, each of which receives 1 point when used in a word; instead, if you are skillful and lucky enough to place a “Q” tile within a word, you’re getting 10 points (and there’s only one “Q” in the tile bag).
Scrabble has become increasingly popular in Italy, to the extent that a lot of federations and nation-wide tournaments exist to this day.
Who did not play Hangman back in elementary, middle, and high school times? Probably no one in Italy, since Italians know one of these games to learn Italian as “l’impiccato”. A very popular game that never gets old and was first described with its trademark hanged man in 1902, it also requires as few materials to play as a paper, a pencil or a board, and chalk/marker (depending on how modern you may be feeling today).
A word has to be guessed. There will be as many dashes on the paper or the board as letters conforming the word to be guessed. The guesser shoots letter names: if correct, the hangman will fill the corresponding dash out; otherwise, tally marks will slowly but relentlessly configure a stick figure that needs to be saved from being hanged. The guesser wins if getting to complete the dashes before the hanging inevitably takes place and loses if the hanged man is drawn in full.
A rather modern game compared to the previous two, it is a two-player board game in which one of the participants must precisely guess the identity of the character picked by his/her opponent.
The participants are given cards with cartoon images of 24 different people and each secretly chooses one. The opponent has to guess by asking yes/no questions (“Does your person wear glasses?”, “Is your person a man?”)—the players alternate. At every turn, the players eliminate characters based on the answers of their opponents.
It’s called “Indovina Chi” in Italian and there are versions in which Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars characters are portrayed.
Reminiscent of Guess Who (although Twenty questions was well known in the 19th century), this, one of the most popular Italian language games, encourages deductive reasoning and creativity. Since Guess Who is a parlor game and implies personal engagement, it could also be considered one of the most important Italian grammar games.
By using questions that will elicit yes, no, and occasionally maybe answers, a group of guessers needs to find out what one of the players has in mind. The guessers will alternate, and are not allowed to lie, but they can ask things like “Is it round, white, hard, and an important element of a sport?”. As the game’s name makes easily understood, the players have a twenty-question limit to find out.
A very successful parlor game, Twenty questions has also been spawned into several radio and TV quiz shows all around the world.
CATEGORIES AND SCATTEGORIES
Italians know it as Nomi, cose, città because those categories are never, ever absent and tend to be the first to be completed. Ultimately, another of the games to learn Italian that you must very surely be known from school days. It is said that John F. Kennedy, a fan of the game, played it endlessly.
Categories don’t take many elements to play with: you just need paper, a pencil, and a fast mind. The game can be displayed as lists or by drawing a table to be filled with words. Players are given a set amount of time to fill a list of words or names beginning with a specific letter according to categories (hence the name in English). Suppose player pick the letter L: categories can be an actor (Laura Dern), a thing (letter), an animal (lamb), a city (London), a clothing item (lace underwear), a sport (lacrosse), a chemical element (lithium), a sea creature (lobster). Other categories can be come up with, and points are assigned based on the number of categories filled.
In some versions, time is allotted but if a player finishes first, then the game stops. Also, if it turns out that two or more participants have written the same word down into a category, then each gets half of the points.
Based on Categories, the game Scattergories is a party game that adds a 20-side dice showing different letters to get the initial letter picked.
SO, LET’S PLAY
Displaying your linguistics skills through a game is a very powerful way to become -yourself- stronger with this language you are learning and Italian is no exception. We hope you have a lot of fun with these games to learn Italian. So… divertitevi!