The Thumbs-Up/Thumbs-Down Game

Here's a game for players of all ages. The purpose of the game is to enable a group of two or more people to discover what they can do together that all would enjoy and profit from.

In order to play the game, each person has to have a right hand and a left hand, with a working thumb on each. The left hand stands for "desire." It points up if somebody suggests an idea that sounds like fun. It points down if an idea is either too boring, too threatening, or too difficult. (Sometimes the left thumb wobbles up and down or comes to rest in an intermediate position, depending on how hard it is to know if a suggestion would be to one's liking.) The right hand stands for "personal growth." It points up if the suggestion is one that would make the thumb's owner a better person. It points down if the idea doesn't appear to have a lasting benefit. To summarize, the left thumb represents "feeling judgment" (would I like to go along with the suggestion for the fun of it), while the right thumb represents "thinking judgment" (would carrying out the suggested idea be good for me in the long run).

Players take turns offering suggestions. In between suggestions, players can ask each other why they like/dislike various suggestions and how they decided whether a given idea was good for them in the long run. (Based on the comments, some players may wish to change their minds.)

The winner is the first person who can come up with a suggestion that yields double thumbs-up all the way around the circle. That's the activity that the group undertakes. If several near jackpots are uncovered, but no clear winner, the game can continue with the goal of determining the order in which multiple activities could be planned. The game could even be played just for its own sake. (Consider a round of the Thumbs-Up/Thumbs-Down game in which the suggestion is to play the Thumbs-Up/Thumbs-Down Game itself!)

In order to win, one must try to understand enough about the feeling judgments and thinking judgments of the other players to dream up a winning suggestion. At the same time, the more imaginative players are helping the others to see how imaginative ideas are formed. While playing the game, see if you can tell which people have the strongest feelings, which have the most persuasive thinking judgment, and which generate the most exciting ideas.

The left hand (sinister) is chosen for the feeling judgment because it is linked to the right hemisphere of the brain, where feeling judgments dominate. The right hand (dexter) is chosen for the thinking judgment because it is linked to the left hemisphere of the brain, where analytical thinking dominates. The beauty of the game is that it helps people to consider both their feelings and their thoughts as they evaluate the ideas of others and generate better ones of their own.