History Of Drinking Games

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Drinking Games are games (of any sort) which involve drinking within the game mechanism. Games can be card games or board games, interactive games using props like coins and cups, and games which involve drinking alone. Perhaps the marriage of innocent competition and consumption of sweet libations was inevitable, considering evidence and recorded mentions are found stretching back to antiquity.



Ancient Greecians, particularly the Athenians, had a longstanding tradition of drinking and gaming which was exemplified by the symposium. Symposium occurred after the meal during a banquet, it was when people danced, listened to music, conversed, and of course- drank. It means, when translated, “to drink together.”

During a Greek symposium, one person would be the “symposiarch” who decided how strong to make the wine. For times of intellectual discussion, the wine was watery. In times of merriment and celebration, the wine was stronger.

In times of fun, Athenians would sometimes play Kottabos, one of the earliest recorded drinking games. It is a skill game (and a game of demonstrating sexual prowess) in which players would fling wine from their glasses at targets. Typically, the target would an unbalanced empty cup which, one filled with wine, would topple over. Many writers around the 5th and the 4th-century B.C.E made allusions to the game, including Dionysius Chalcus and Sophocles. This game, as one can imagine, was quite messy.


Ancient China, particularly the Tang Dynasty, took pleasure in all sorts of drinking games. Some involved verbally exchanging riddles, representative of a subset of drinking games with an intellectual flavor. But, not all were the games were mindful. There were simplistic games with more popularity such as jiuling, a dice game, a game of finger guessing, and a variation of rock, paper, scissors called tiger, chicken, worm.

The ancient Chinese declared referees for their games. Sometimes multiple referees would be designated the “registrar of the rules,” a player who knew all the rules to the game, “registrar of the horn,” who tossed a silver flag to mark second offenses, and the “governor,” who called a player’s third offense. Drinking games were taken very seriously, players who were unable to keep with the drinking were labeled “deserters” and often not invited back for games in the future.


Now, time to take a quick look at some of the drinking games enjoyed in modern societies around the globe.


Drinking games, which are the simplest and typically the shortest, are endurance drinking games. This is a competition to see who can outdrink who. This has a multitude of manifestations. Players may take shots, “waterfall” or “chug” alcohol, or keg stand. Some games favor speed, other quantity. Players may also match drinks or drink “one-for-one” until one player passes out or vomits. A Power hour, or 60 minutes of non-stop drinking, is a variant of this type.


Some drinking games are based entirely upon how quickly you can outdrink someone. The amount of alcohol to be drank is always standardized, this includes shotgunning a beer, Edward 40hands, flip (flippy) cup, and yard.

Flip cup, for example, is a team game. Players pour a mutually agreed upon of alcohol in their personal cups. Players on each team go head to head. The first players chug their beverage, place the cup upside down on the table, and attempt to flip it with one finger so it is standing upright. Once a player has successfully flipped their cup, the players next to their repeat. The first team in which all players drink and flip their cups successfully are the winners.

Tactics for success in speed games include relaxing your throat so you can take larger gulps and squeezing in the edges of the cup so it is more funnel-like.


Unlike endurance and speed games, being good at drinking alone will not be enough to win. These games focus on a particular skill. For example, in the case of Beer Pong, how well you can aim a ping-pong ball into a cup (especially as you get progressively inebriated). But, pub quizzes, for example, are also skill-based drinking games.

More games like this include: beer darts, quarters, stack cup, charades, cups, foosball, and horseshoes.

These games also may include thinking games, these are games which rely on player’s skills of observation, recollection, critical thinking, eloquence, and general knowledge base. This includes games such as Think or Drink, 21, bullshit, Never Have I Ever, pennying, and board games like Trivial Pursuit.


Drinking games can also utilize formal dice and card games. Drinking can be incorporated into games like President, Liar’s Poker, and Ride the Bus, for example. However, any game can be manipulated to include drinking.

Some popular drinking dice games are beer die, pounce!, three-man, and Liar’s Dice.


Music, Movies, and TV Shows can be used to create drinking games. For example, while watching a show like Trailer Park Boys, in which character’s swear often, player’s can devise a rule where everyone drinks when certain character’s say “fuck” or “shit.” Sporting events can also be used for drinking games, in which players take a drink every time the opposing team scores (or the team they are rooting for!)

Watching live-action Rocky Horror Picture Show in the theater, where people wear costumes and act of the movie while it plays in the background, for example, typically includes cues to drink.


The App Store and Google Play Store host free and paid games on their platforms that smartphone users can download. They have a multitude of games from all the different genres discussed above.