Tabella Games

One Card Wonder

There is an elegant simplicity in using only one card as the focus for a story; whether it is told, written, drawn or acted out. It encourages a real exploration of the chosen card.

In narrative it can be quite challenging to hold an element as a continuous thread throughout a story. For example, characters are often 'dropped in mid air', especially by the young or unpracticed. This game helps to promote continuity of an element.

Another suggestion for this game is that the players discuss the meaning that the particular card holds for them. They could judge it as positive, negative or neutral and then possibly turn it around to explore the opposite angle as a way of challenging their notions and stereotypes.

Game Explanation: This game can be played alone, with a partner or in a group. Every player chooses one card each to perform one of the following:

  1. Write a story with the card picture / title / theme as the focus.
  2. Write about what the card means to you. Judge it. How do you feel about it? Do you see it as positive, negative or neutral. Why? If positive (“good”) perhaps you can turn it around to see the negative ("bad") in the card or vice versa.

Play It Forward

This is a variation on the classic game of pass it on, where each player within the group builds on each other's story. Typically a bundle of laughs, this game is a great ice-breaker. As stories tend to become quite silly, it is a worthy exploration of the idea that stories do not need to make perfect sense!

Game Explanation: This is a game for two to six players. Every player selects between six and twelve cards as a mix from all of the four subsets. These cards will be points of inspiration to move the story along, but players may bring in any other elements that they may desire. Player 1 begins the story. He or she uses one card to kick the story off. In the case of the story being told, he or she opens the story by narrating for a minute or two. Where the story is being co-written, he or she will write a maximum of five lines and leave off at the end of a sentence for the next player (Player 2) to pick the story up and contribute his or her own (maximum) five lines. This continues until all players have run out of cards or the story has run its course. (Please note: A player does not need to bring a new card in to the story at every turn).

Simply Story

Simply put, this game is the "bread and butter" of storytelling!

Game Explanation: Although the stories in this game are written alone they can be shared with or told to a partner or a group. Each player selects between six and twelve cards as a mix from all of the four subsets. These can be brought in to the story at any time, as well as any other elements that you might wish to include.

Do not limit your imagination as you allow your story to flow from a grabbing beginning to an engaging series of events (preferably with an unexpected twist or turn or two); leading to a change in state and finally some sense of a conclusion or ending. You might wish to share it with others.

Tell It Over

This game melds the recount of a real life event with fiction to assist players to take an alternative view of a situation and, in some cases, creatively construct a new path for the characters to reach more favourable outcomes and positive mental or emotional states.

Game Explanation: This game is best played in partnership or in a group. Every player thinks of a real life event that has been important to you. Consider what happened and what feelings it brought about. Perhaps it was a happy occasion and you felt excited, overjoyed, surprised or some other emotion. Perhaps it was not such a happy event and you may have felt nervous, frustrated, sad, angry or even just “bad”. Each player then selects up to six cards that might be useful in the recount of your own real life story. Begin your story: "Once upon a time...". Perhaps you might wish to call the main character by a name other than your own. Continue to tell your special story and once you have ended it, take a moment to reflect on how it feels for you now. Next, select another two to six cards that you could use to help change the course of your story to bring a happier ending to your characters and Tell It Over. Share your story with your friends if you wish to. Perhaps you could use some of their ideas to assist you with your happy ending.

You And I

This game assists players to bring in to view their positive (and not-so-positive) traits, strengths and weaknesses. Through the sharing of these ideas, light can be shed on what makes us unique and others different.

Game Explanation: This game is best played in pairs. Each partner selects between three and six cards from any subsets that you feel in some way reflects the kind of person that you are. For example, 'Lion' could show bravery; 'Mountain' could denote strength; 'Friend' could mean a good friend. At least one card should show something that you don't necessarily like about yourself.

Ask your partner to select the same number of cards that express the special traits that he or she sees in you. If some are the same, that is fine. Talk together about "You". Swap over and repeat the process for your partner. You could even look at how some of your strengths could be viewed another way and could possibly be weaknesses. For example, it might not be beneficial to be "too strong" all of the time. Getting to know each other is fun!

Point Of View

In this interesting game a story is first told from the point of view of one character and then retold from the point of view of another character, using the same set of cards. This reinforces the concept of point of view in narrative and encourages narrators to get inside their characters.

Game Explanation: This game can be played alone, with a partner or in a group. Each player selects between six and twelve cards as a mix from all of the four subsets. At least two will be characters. Choose one of the characters. You will be telling or writing your story from the point of view of this character. Your story might begin something like: "My name is Talon and I am an eagle...".

Once you have completed your story, choose one of the other characters and retell your story from the point of view of this character. You might wish to tell or write a third or a fourth story or share it with others.

Now I Like It

In this game players are asked to work with the card's imagery and offer their "first reaction" responses. It is a great conversation starter and way to familiarize with the cards, revealing aspects of the players' relationships with the objects and concepts pictured.

Game Explanation: This game is best played with between two and six players. It is a simple game and does not require much thought. In fact, it is your FIRST REACTION that counts most.

The deck is turned card-face down and Player One selects a card from the top of the deck. Without thinking too much about it, he or she states whether he or she likes it or not, giving reasons as to why.

The card can be placed in either the "like" or the "dislike" pile. There is no "right" or "wrong" in this classification. Other players may ask one question each to gain further information. Players will take turns to remove a card from the top and complete this same process until the game concludes.

I Include You

This is an example of how the cards can be used for quite a specific purpose. Perhaps more a classroom game, this one brings relationships in to focus. Through the telling of stories, it encourages players to consider including someone with whom they would not usually connect with in their play or with whom they have had some difficulties in their relationship. There is always room for one more tool to assist working through bullying issues through themes of friendship, compassion, inclusion and acceptance.

Game Explanation: This game is best played in partnership. Each player selects six cards as a mix from all of the four subsets to tell a story about two friends. You can choose cards that show what kind of a good friend you are and what you might like to do with your friend.

Firstly, one of you will tell your story about two friends, showing the special ways in which your main character helps their friend feel liked and accepted while they have unexpected fun together. Then your partner will tell his or her tale of two friends, using his or her own cards. Next, you can both tell a story together, bringing both sets of cards together for twice the fun!

Even more games...

What do you desire now?

This is a game for all the family and can be played alone or with others.

I recently drew on the wealth of visual imagery and themes in the Tabella deck to help me structure my contemplations around what I most want to manifest and achieve in my life at the moment. As a society, we are apt to lose touch at times with what we really want for ourselves (as contrasted with what others want for us - including the dreaded mass media advertising brainwashing that kids are subjected to daily).

On a personal note, when I have been asked this question by another on occasion, I have typically been bowled over at first, yet touched. It has said to me that my interests were truly at the heart of their question and in the front of their minds. I've gasped and gaped but then felt some release and power in voicing what I wanted.

So... Give it a try sometime with the kids. Spread the cards out on the table or lawn and casually ask them... "So... if you could have anything you wanted or make something weird or wonderful happen for yourself now - what would that be? Would you have more friends (Friends)?... Find a chest of buried treasure (Treasure)?... Fly like an eagle (Eagle)?... Be abducted by an alien from Mars (Red Planet)?" I'm sure that there will be some crackers and little gems thrown in there to help you understand yourselves and each other on new levels.

If you choose to do the exercise alone you can get right in as deeply as you like. I was really surprised when I read my spontaneous scribblings back after having left them for a few days. I wrote it out as a series of affirmations, mostly beginning "I will..." and I couldn't stop smiling when I read them back. They rang so true, in a positive way. It was like, "Who is this person.... she really knows me!?... And she's looking out for me."