Telephone Oracle

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Do you have a question that you really want a (funny) answer to? Are you a Classics major who's always wondered how that chick at Delphi came up with all those wacky predictions? Are you looking for a party game that pleases everyone and can be enjoyed without alcohol?

You will need:

  • At least six players
  • A sheet of paper for each player
  • A pen for each player.


  • A different color pen for each player. Not necessary, especially if everyone knows everyone else's handwritng.


Everyone sits in a circle.

Everyone writes, at the top of his or her own page, a question that he or she would like to have answered by the Oracle. When everyone has done this, all pass their sheets to the right (if a second game is played, pass left).

The second person receives a question, and must write, on the line below, a semi-reasonable answer to this question. It's best to actually address the question; plenty of humor will come from this game even without intentional non-sequiturs. When all have written their answers, the sheet is folded so that only the last line is readable by the next person. All sheets are then passed in the same direction.

The next person must now write a question that could have produced that answer, and folds his or her sheet likewise, so that only that question is visible to the next writer.

Play proceeds in this fashion, alternating between question- and answer-writing rounds. When a player sees a question, he or she writes an answer. When he or she sees an answer, he or she writes a question. Sometimes it occurs that you are looking at the wrong thing on a given round, because the person before you screwed up. What you do in that situation is really up to you. It doesn't matter.


When the last thing on a sheet of paper is an answer, and there is no room for another question and answer, throw it into the middle of the circle. It is done.

Some rounds may pass when not everyone is writing, as some sheets finish before others. This is ok. When all sheets are done, everyone takes a sheet at random from the middle. One player begins reading the sheet in his hands:

"The Oracle was asked . . ." and then reads the top question in the chain. "The Oracle answered . . ." and then the last line, an answer, is read. The reader waits for any laughter to subside, and then rereads the question and reads the whole sheet for everyone's enjoyment.

Then the next person in the circle likewise reads a sheet, and so on, until all have been read.


Players should reverse the direction of sheet-passing if a second game is desired. This gives you the chance to reply to the writings of the person who was last replying to yours -- also known as getting revenge.

Puns, personal references, and true-to-life answers are all fair game. Couples beware: nothing is sacred.

Don't ask things you don't want answered.


Oracle's earliest known introduction to Williams (And vice-versa) was at a Thanksgiving party in the basement of Fitch in the fall of 2003, where one "Seth Brown" imported the idea from somewhere beyond the boundaries of the Purple Bubble. Since that day the game's popularity has grown to the point where, in some circles, the distinction of being "the greatest game in the world" belongs not to The Greatest Game in the World/telepictionary, but to Oracle.


One common variation calls for each player to read their own oracle aloud, rather than one selected at random. This has a tendency to enhance the potential for irony.

Rhyming Oracle is a favorite among English Majors. In it, each question-answer pair is expected to be in the form of a rhyming couplet. Metrical constraints are rarely considered. It is important that the rhyme be limited to a single question-answer pair, as otherwise it is easy to get unintentional repetition of the rhyming words. It is also possible to play a hybrid game, where rhyming is suggested but not required.


The following exchanges are excerpts from actual games of Telephone Oracle.

"Is that a banana in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?"
"It's a banana; I stole it from the dining hall."
"Is that a banana in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?"
"It's a banana."
"Is that a diggeridoo in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?"
"No, baby, you just make me go Fwoooooo."