We can all agree that after a while, pounding beer after beer can lose its luster—especially when you're no longer an eager high-schooler hiding out in your parents' basement. We need something else to keep us occupied, to supplement the drinking experience; something more than good conversation with friends; something beyond bending the elbow while staring like a zombie at another NFL game.
There’s surely a reason people invented drinking games. In fact, there’s evidence they existed in many ancient cultures. Zhou Dynasty Chinese played Jiuling, which involved sharing a poem or riddle between gulps. Ancient Romans bonded over Passatella, a game of insults that usually resulted in drunken knife brawls. Meanwhile, the Greeks once played something called Kottabos at their drinking parties (called symposia), where players would flick the dregs from their cup of wine at particular targets. Pity whoever was hosting each weekend.
But even if people were drinking and competing well before the U.S. had even been established, it’s still sometimes easy to believe America perfected the drinking game. Our love of competition, our years of college hijinks, and our propensity for reckless binge-drinking is surely why we have so many: beer pong and flip cup, Buffalo and wizard’s staff, Edward Fortyhands and the century club. In a way, those games almost feel universal, but indeed the globalization of American drinking games has not fully occurred yet. Thus, we decided to look at how the rest of the world puts their own spin on the formidable combination of sport and alcohol.
You'll notice most countries' drinking games are quite different from ours, which can often feel ultra-competitive in an almost frat-tastic way. Foreign games are little more relaxed, a little more nuanced. They frequently involve sitting around in a circle, trying to tongue-twist your drinking buddies. While others don’t even really seem like games—just excuses to get super, super blotto without exerting too much energy. America could perhaps learn a thing or two.
Here are ten games from around the globe, graded on both a degree of fun and degree of danger scale—rated by an American who hasn’t played any of them.