Drive-By Stories — a storytelling game for road trips

Time/Life Photo Archives (1942) by J. R. Eyerman

Time/Life Photo Archives (1942) by J. R. Eyerman

Here’s a storytelling game for those long car trips or heavy traffic… or even just simple boredom!

The Goal: Tell the stories of the strangers around you.

Players: Anyone in the car– Two or more people.

Materials: The fingers on one hand and an active imagination

1) Pick a nearby car. It should be a car where you cannot see the other driver/occupants, so it could be the one in front of you or even two lanes away.

2) The Player going first makes a “fact” about the driver, and then offers a question about that fact. The “fact” can be anything that comes to mind, but often matches what would be likely according to the time, location, and type of car that’s the target. Also, you must limit your facts in categories represented by the fingers on one hand:

THUMB: Thumbs are about approval. Your fact is about something he/she likes or dislikes.
INDEX FINGER: Indexes are about instruction. Your fact is about something he/she told someone, or about something he/she was told to do.
MIDDLE FINGER: Middles are about frustrations. Your fact is about something he/she is frustrated about. (For the Rated G version, Middles are the “tallest” and the facts are about a time he/she stood tall.)
RING FINGER: Rings are about relationships. Your fact is about an ongoing, healed, or broken relationship.
PINKY: Pinkies are about “swears.” Your fact is about a promise kept or a secret broken.

Example: After picking the red car ahead on the right, the Player going first makes a fact using his Ring Finger. “The driver is unmarried. How long ago was his last relationship?” or even “The driver has been dating his/her significant other for four years and next week is the anniversary. Why is he/she feeling so bad about celebrating it?”

3) The each Player in the car offers an answer to the question, and everyone in the car must agree whose answer is the most satisfying. Obviously, the best way to do this is to take a look at the driver after the question is given, and perhaps everyone in the car will smile and say “Oh, yeah. For sure!” when the best answer is given. (The First Player can always offer an alternative answer to his own question as the final offer.) The player who gives the most satisfying answer is awarded points equal to the first numeral on the license plate of car in question.

Example: The First Player offered a fact and a question. “The driver is unmarried. How long ago was his last relationship?” The Second Player offers “two weeks,” The Third Player offers “one year ago, the day their dog died,” and the First Player answers his own question “Last night.” Everyone agrees the Third Player offers the most tragically satisfying answer. The license plate was LA55589, so the Third Player gets 5 points.

4) Play continues until all the “fingers” of one hand have been used. The player with the most points wins, which is ironic because the points don’t really matter and everyone had a good time making up stories about people around them.