The Gabe Agenda

Beer Pong? More Like Beer Wrong

I am currently stuck in the U.S.A, in a hotel in Irving, Texas waiting for my 4am flight to Charlotte, North Carolina, which will only then take me to Toronto, Ontario (that one's in Canada) and since I now find myself with hours to spend stewing in a small room with some mini-fridge whiskey and and a Quarter-Pounder with Cheese meal paid for by American Airlines, I started thinking about a conversation I had with one of my best friends a while ago.

The conversation was about how everyone plays beer pong wrong and, as a professional game designer, I can no longer remain quiet about this issue. Even back then, I mentioned how I wanted to start a blog and the first thing I'd write was a whole analysis of how beer pong is commonly played and why it's -objectively- bad game design. I was wrong about it being the first thing I wrote, but I am still right about the game.

Alt: Animated medieval beer pong

I don't mean to brag, but I go to (and throw) a lot of parties. And if possible, I make beer pong a part of said party as an optional entertainment method for anyone wanting to satisfy their competitive itch. I'm not a stickler for beer pong rules. It's simple enough to have some cups and try to get the ball in said cups, but some people have entire volumes worth of regulations for beer pong in their heads (does it really matter if my elbow was over the table?). When I play, I simply try to have good time, maybe nail a cool trick shot, and definitely get drunk. However, one rule (and a pretty obvious one at that) does bother me: When you score, the other players drink.

But consider this: Drinking is the point.

I don't mean "drinking is the point of going to a party", you can do whatever you want. I once saw a guy make tea at a house party; go that guy! What I mean is that out of all the party activities, you chose to play the one game that pretty much requires that you consume alcohol to fully participate. So it's a pretty safe bet to assume you 1: Drink, and 2: Want to get drunk.

When you take a closer look at the classic setup of beer pong though, you can't possibly draw the conclusion that the game wants you to drink. In fact, assuming you play a perfect game, you'd walk out entirely sober while your opponents rush towards the nearest toilet bowl. How does that work?

Beer pong suffers from a positive feedback loop problem. Lose a couple cups and you're slightly drunker than the other team, which makes you more likely to fail subsequent throws, which gets you drunker, which makes you more likely to miss and so on. That's bullshit.

Drink When You Sink

It's that simple.

Every time you hit (sink) a cup, you drink. This way, your opponent is now more likely to score (presuming they started the game at the same level of intoxication as you). When they do, they drink. Now you're both back on the same level. Keep this up for a whole game and now you're getting sloshed with you're friends evenly.

Ideally, this would mean no one gets to dominate the table, since the better you do, the worse (theoretically) you become, allowing for a faster rotation of new players. It's a negative feedback loop! Now everyone is having fun and the balance of intoxication is evenly distributed among voluntary participants.

I highly encourage you to try this IRL mod of the most played table-top game in frat houses and college dorms alike next time you throw a party. Let me know how it goes!

Drink responsibly, and stay safe out there!