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No phones, only paper and pencils, please

 | March 21, 2017

Do yourself a favour by ‘clicking’ out of techno-mode and enjoying simple, non-threatening, non-stressful entertainment on paper.


Imagine life before online games.

Amazingly and I kid you not, most of these games were inspired by “real” real-time, face-to-face, person-to-person retro games. Yes, when people actually sat around the table and mouthed words called the act of “making conversation”, without the distraction of their hand-held devices.

To get you in the right frame of mind, imagine that your smartphone’s battery is dead and there’s no way to recharge it due to a nationwide electricity outage (god forbid). Or imagine having to wait two hours before the telco reconnects your phone service because you missed the monthly payment yet again (I am speaking from experience).

Before you frantically google “extreme side affects of not using your phone for an hour”, give it a thought and “click” out of techno-mode for a moment. You just may find that you enjoy the solitude of simple, easy, non-threatening, and definitely non-stressful entertainment.

Be warned that you will have no multi-view visual display, no recorded voices or special sound effects promptings, and definitely no depth perception issues, unless you have astigmatism.

Besides, once power is restored, take comfort in knowing that these games are available online. Along the way, you will find out how smart you actually are without Mr Google. Feeling smug already, eh!

All you need is a piece of paper (be environmentally friendly and recycle), a pen or pencil and a willing, friendly, breathing human. Who knows, you may actually take notice of your friend’s new hairstyle or the colour of their eyes.

P/S: These games cost under RM1 and no downloading required.

The Category Game (Nama)


Number of players: Preferably more than one, but you can always go solo like a pro and challenge yourself.

How to play: Start with the first letter of the alphabet and write the name of a person, animal, food, flower, country and object within 60 seconds. You’ll soon see how challenging it is to come up with names beginning with the letter X.

Aim: You accumulate points if you manage to name an item in each category. The person with the top score wins and you win extra points if you gave an answer no one else did. Who’s the boss!

Hidden lessons: Vocabulary, science, geography, general knowledge, and math.

Online name: Stop the game

Hangman (Cuba Teka)


Number of players: You definitely need two.

How to play: Think of a word. The other player has to guess the word by calling out letter by letter. You can bring out your inner executioner by building the hangman with your opponent’s wrong guesses.

Aim: To guess the word before you get “hanged” by the executioner.

Variation: Pre-select categories such as countries, celebrations (fa la la la la), sports to flex your muscles.

Hidden lessons: Spelling (it defeats the purpose if you cannot spell), general knowledge, art (if you consider drawing matchstick men with sad faces as art).

Online name: Hangman online

Naughts and crosses (Tic-Tac-Toe)


How to play: Players take turns to draw their symbol of ‘X’ or ‘O’ in 3 x 3 grid cells. Are you confused yet?

Aim of the game: The first player who makes a line of three of their symbols horizontally, vertically or diagonally wins.

Hidden lesson: Strategy, math, drawing straight lines, cute circles and nasty naughts.

Board/Online name: Naughts and crosses online or tic-tac-toe online



How to play: Label grids by writing numbers across, and letters down the side. Now, secretly position your aircraft carrier (five squares), battleship (four squares), cruiser (three squares), submarine (two squares) and destroyer (one square). Doesn’t this want to make you join the navy?

The player calls out a grid coordinate as a target and the other player checks the coordinate on their paper to declare it a hit or a miss. Boo-yah!

Aim of the game: The player who locates all ships of his opponent is the winner (aye, aye captain).

Hidden lesson: Math, strategy and art

Board/Online game: Battleships (what a surprise).

Trivia: “Battleship” is a 2012 American military-science fiction-action-war film loosely inspired by this classic board game.

Paper & Pencil slides (Lumba pencil)


Number of players: Two

How to play: Players must hold the top of the pencil in position with a single index finger, pressing down on the paper, forcing the tip to slide forward to draw a line.

Aim of the game: The player who reaches the finish line first is the winner.

Variation: Draw winding roads or obstacles.

Hidden lessons: This no strain on your brain but game may involve a smattering of physics.

Online game: “Scriball” may be the closest.


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