Asking for a friend…
I mean, designing this game for a friend…

You’ve all been there. The Monday, all-hands company meeting over Zoom. Everyone signs in and turns off their video and mutes their mic. Only, some people forget to mute themselves. Then it happens: the unthinkable. But, isn’t your mic off? You check, and it’s green. You double check on the bluetooth headset. It’s green. You triple check via the Participant drop-down. The mic icon is green.

You panic. You turn it off. You check to see who else had their mic on. A few did! There’s a slim but nonzero hope that no one can narrow it down to you!

Then again, the presenter did pause, clear their throat and say “oh my… tee hee… moving on.” The presentation continues, but you can tell from the heaviness of the atmosphere that something lingers. Nobody is concentrating on the topic. Everyone is looking at panel view, gallery view, trawling Slack for some real time water cooler gossip.

And when the video is disseminated to the team in the morning, everyone will have a permanent record, including that wonderful green border that highlights the quadrant of the attendee whose mic auto-activated… the “Spotlighted Squeaker” you might say.

So what else can you do but make a game out of it?

Below are some preliminary renderings of roles that might make it into the playtest version of “Zumfärter”, which will be a hidden identity game involving players taking clandestine actions while a presenter drones on. Meanwhile, the Management, IT, Slacker and Farter factions scheme to give each other the blame for a business meeting gone awry.

So… Kickstart it?
Eventually someone else is going to have the same experience… I mean someone’s friend is going to have the same experience and rake in the big bucks. So, in the meantime keep an eye out for a playtest copy. I will try to construct several decks and hand them out.

Inner Sleeve Bingo

Bingo albums

What do Led Zeppelin, George Carlin, the J Geils Band, and Yes have in common?

Apart from sharing the same label (Atlantic) at one point and being in my vynil collection, they all appeared on the same inner sleeve. Remember those printed ads for Decca and RCA and ATCO on the inner sleeves of album jackets?

First off, do you remember vynil albums? Ok good.

Some of us may remember that back before the 80s the inner sleeves didn’t have lyrics. They didn’t even have weird unrelated art that the amateur photographer sister-in-law of the bass player somehow managed to get the band to use even though it barely relates to the album’s theme. Nope, they either had crappy plastic inner sleeves that scrunched up when you slid them back in, or else they had a paper ad like this one here…

Man of La Mancha sleeve
Hawaii Tattoo… perhaps it’s bagpipers wearing leis.

I used to be annoyed by them. I mean, who is Robertino? And is there really enough of him to warrant a ‘Best Of’? Does Roger Williams really remember me? You don’t have to be Jewish? (to what?) Shani Wallis is a Girl? Bobby Helms is the Man? Burt Bacharach is the Man?

Actually, Burt Bacharach IS the Man!

Mystery photo
Can you guess the mystery photo?

One thing I did love was the smell of those thin, aging paper sleeves. Nothing like it! If I worked at a winery I would probably design an oaked chardonnay just so that I could give it tasting notes like: “The nose opens with notes of cardamom, currants, barn loft hay, and 60s record sleeves.

Sleeves are a lost art. I remember one of my favorite albums of childhood was Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly” simply because it had a piano-shaped gatefold outer jacket. A piano-shaped jacket!

Roberta Flack
Atlantic, softly killing it with this packaging

And while we are on the topic of sleeves (and before I make them into a game… like I do), does anyone know how many of my records are missing inner sleeves! Half of them! It’s a travesty! Who’s collection did these come from? Oh, right: my parents. That explains all the first edition Beatles and Nazz. But if it weren’t for their Nazzes (Nazzi?) I would have never discovered Todd Rundgren! But hello, it’s me the Gamurgist, so let’s…


Bingo sleeve 2
Yes! Songs!

Grab one of those old inner sleeves with the advertisements, like the one pictured here. Pick one with sixteen albums on it, if possible. If you don’t have one, feel free to use any of the examples at the end of this article. Then grab a handful of marbles or pennies or, better yet, those plastic, yellow 45 adapters and let’s play some bingo!

Now, go look through your collection and put a marker down for any of them you own. If noone playing wins, feel free to widen the rules to include ANY album by the band pictured. If that fails, move on to solo albums. But if you try using cassettes or CDs I will come over there and slap the Divine Miss M right out of your Sticky Fingers!

Bingo sleeve 2 played
Sorry, I only own one adapter. You’d be surprised have few singles require them!

So, where was I? Well, I own Yes, the Bee Gees, Zep, J Geils, ELP, CSNY (and CSN, SNY, CS, Y, CSI:NY) and of course the Rolling Stones. But none of them give me a bloody bingo!

You get the idea.

If you win a bingo on any horizontal, vertical or diagonal line, send me a photo of your winning sleeve. The sample bingo boards below should give you hours of playtime, depending on how large your collection (or memory) is. In the collection of bingo cards below I’ve included some large boards, several small boards, and maybe one fake board if you can figure out which one that is. Also, let me know if you figure out what the Mystery Photo is.

There is a Game inside everything

Circular art

“I can make a game out of anything”
– The Gamurgist

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I think it’s helpful to begin with a famous quote from a well-known person. You know, someone who really embodies the spirit of the work at hand. An uncompromising figure who…

Just kidding. But in the words of William Shatner, “I think I could do it!”

Then again, no one ever handed Bill copies of Wiz-War and Risk at a convention and dared him to combine the two. He would have rightfully replied, “That’s insane…That’s impossible.” As did I, when asked. But then a moment later I added: “I think I have an idea.”

And it was playable!

Truth be told we played it for almost an hour until, I think, the Red Wizard holed himself up in Madagascar with three Magic Stones, a Sudden Death, Amplify and half a dozen number cards.

And there’s a lesson somewhere in that. It’s probably: “Don’t dare Pat to combine two games unless you are prepared to sit down and play the monstrosity for an hour.” But it could just as easily be: “There’s a game inside anything.”

Inside the meeting point between two other games. Inside the spirit of one game and the form of another. Inside a mundane daily activity. Inside a one-of-a-kind, lightning-in-a-bottle magical moment.

Magic Moment! Here, half way down the page… the goal of this website:

To discover the game inside of anything. To dig into what makes us struggle to win when there is no Victory Track. To delight in whimsy when confronting the mundane. To gamify, heighten, find the nugget of truth, and codify the rules of engagement for any moment of life. And to bring together like-minded jokers in the pursuit of adventure.

And to combine games.

Don’t make me prove it unless you’ve got an hour to kill!

And hopefully you’ve got more than an hour to kill because whether you have just discovered Gamurgy.com or are reading this well in the future, there are and/or should be a lot of games here.

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Gamurgy Defined

Photo of gamurgization

There aren’t too many words in the dictionary that end in “urgy”. Metallurgy… Thaumaturgy… Dramaturgy… Zymurgy (yum!). And, if I can just get spell checker to remove the red underline, Gamurgy. Well it’s not but it should be.

Here’s my definition:

1. The science of discovering, creating and combining games.
2 . The art of finding the game in anything.

Like metallurgy, it has to do with making alloys of games. Coming up with something new from two previous game ideas, or creating something out of a game mechanic and something in nature or culture.

Like thaumaturgy, it is a magical art. It creates magic and quite often has to do precisely with the themes of then magical world.

Like dramaturgy, it is literary in nature, it often invites acting and make believe, and it is enjoyed by both the spotlight-seekers and the engaged viewer.

1. (To) turn something into a game…


Go ahead and look at the online definition for gamify. It’s all about video games. And don’t get me wrong, I love video games, but that’s a whole different website.

1. (To) turn something into a game that is not normally considered game-like..
2 . (To) find a way to combine two unrelated things (or games) and create a game out of both which honors both ideas.

And I would further add that whatever is created needs to be fun or at least educational. It needs to speak to the individual elements and it should at least evoke a feeling upon playing it of having given the experience of both elements.

And like zymurgy, it should go well with beer.

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The history of Gamurgy

Gamurgy logo

Gamurgy is an idea I created in 1999.

By that time I had been playing and creating games for over 20 years. As I looked back on all the types of games I had created, one thing was pretty clear: I liked to combine games and I liked to make a game out of either A) the last thing you would expect, or B) something I was dared to use as source material.

In 1989 I made a game in which playdough creatures ran around a pit made out of a trash can lid with a hole in the middle. The players had to maneuver around the pit wielding light sabres and the attacks themselves involved squishing and cutting the playdough creatures in half.

In 1991 I made a game in which my sister’s Barbie doll accessories were used as weapons to fend off waves of (again, playdough) zombies using a copy of the board game Mall Madness.

I even made a copy of Settlers of Catan — at six-times size! — in which each player wasn’t just a different color, they were a different set of 70s childhood toys. There was a Tinker Toys player, a Lincoln Logs player, one with Legos, one with Erector Set, one using a Richard Scarry Playskool set and one using Micronauts.

By the mid 90s I was making games for one-off uses mostly. If anything survived until a second playing, it was a miracle. And generally speaking, I was much more in favor of NOT replaying games. Why do the same thing a second time when you could make something brand new again. Not that I threw anything away… I just became a game hoarder.

And not just a physical game hoarder, but a digital hoarder as well. My ideas were filling up hard drives (they were smaller back then), so I figured i would start a website to feature my game ideas.

The first website name I came up with was “Gamergy”, a combination of “game” and “synergy”. And since I was on AOL at the time (as was everyone else) I tried reserving an AOL site with the name “gamergy”. Not allowed. So I tried “game mixer”. Also restricted. Who was taking all these names? I tried “game synergy”, “game combining”, “game bartender”… none of them were allowed. Eventually it became clear that AOL was barring anyone from creating any sites with the prefix “game-“, probably so that they could use them at some future date.

But “gamurgy” worked. I reserved, and then poured all of my ideas onto “members.aol.com/gamurgy” on December 31, 1999. Somewhere out there the internet remembers my AOL member Hometown Site. But good luck finding it.

If I can find a printout or an ancient floppy with the files, I will upload them again to gamurgy.com, but in the meantime it’s all new games, baby!

So, welcome to “Gamurgy.com”!

“A game site in existence since last century!”


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