Fool The Hangman

by | Oct 22, 2017 | Artwork #2: Appropriate


Need two or more players to play this game.

  1. One player will think of a word and represent it as a row of dashes. Let’s call this person the hangman or the drawing player.
  2. Other players need to guess what the word is by suggesting letters, but when these players have guessed the word they don’t speak out the word, since they want to fool the hangman in this game. Let’s call these people guessing players.
  3. When guessing players suggest the correct letter, the drawing players should write it on correct position.
  4. When guessing players suggest the wrong letter, the drawing player draw one element of a stick figure.
  5. Once drawing player finish the body of the stick figure, the game is not over. Instead of executing the stick figure, guessing player can still guess the word. At this time, if guessing player suggest the wrong letter, they can ask drawing player to draw an element of body to decorate the stick figure. Guessing players cannot ask drawing player to draw multiple repeated parts, like to draw boots on the sneakers.
  6. The game will be ended when: 1) The drawing does not match the description from guessing players. The drawing player loses and asks to tells the true answer. 2) The drawing player can give up when he feels like everyone knows the word (being “fooled” by everyone). Then he will ask or tell the true answer.

The first version of the game.

The second version of the game.

The final play test on the class.


This game is called Fool the Hangman, and it is basically appropriated from the Hangman game. Originally, this game will end when the drawing player finish the stick figure before the guessing players guess out the word. Therefore, it is very easy for the drawing player to think of a really tricky word to fool the guessing player and execute the stick figure. The goal of my game inverses the situation that allows guessing players to fool the drawing player. After the drawing player finish the stick figure, guessing players still have chances to guess the word as many times as they want. Every time guessing players suggest a wrong letter, they can ask the drawing player to draw an element of body to decorate the stick figure. Benefited on this rule, the guessing players do need to guess out the word, but they don’t need to speak out the correct word so that they can continuously provide wrong letters to fool the hangman.


The idea is inspired by all fantastic and creative examples of the appropriation from the class. Especially, the real-life version of the Pacman game impressed me the most. It simply turned the game scene to the real world. The maze in the game was transferred to streets and buildings. The player controlled themselves by running instead of controller. The rules are similar, but the way to play it changes a lot. This example really makes me think about how to appropriate some existing games. The first game that came to my mind is the Hangman game. I was also impressed by Dada in Berlin. During that period, all artist opposed the war, military and the bureaucracy. Art works at that period also showed sarcasm to the bureaucracy. (Nowadays, I think the ways people appeal for peace are gentler, and we call it Peace and Love.) Therefore, I came up with the idea that the hangman will draw a flower held by the stick figure instead of killing him to show the idea of no killings. After trying this first version of game with my friends, I realized that the game would still end so fast, since drawing a flower only contributed serval steps more for the game.

Then I came up with the idea of drawing parts of body to decorate the stick figure. This was inspired by lots of collages I saw on the class. A sculpture called George Grosz, John Heartfield, Der wildgewordene Spiesser Heartfield impressed me a lot. Authors replaced some parts of body with light bulb, weapons and false tooth. Similarly, in my game to draw parts of element to decorate the stick figure is to create a collage on this stick figure body. Guessing players can ask the drawing player to draw anything they want. Different drawing players with various drawing styles will create their own drawing. At last, this is game will help us create collages with lots of possibilities. Therefore, I encouraged people to be the drawing player in my game.


On my first playing test, the rules of the game are so confused because of my poor description, so the first thing I did is to rewrite the description. I tried to play more tests with my friends, but I met the situation that they asked me to draw a pair of boots on a pair of sneakers, so I added the rule that guessing players cannot ask drawing player to draw multiple repeated parts. It seems like it’s way too easy for guessing players to win the game, since they have lots of chances to guess the word. However, guessing players often forget that their goal is to guess out the word and don’t speak out to keep the hangman drawing by suggesting wrong letters. Therefore, I think it’s also challenging to not speak out the correct answer.


To conclude, this is a really cool project and I learnt a lot about appropriation and dada. I really like the idea of Marcel Duchamp that to doubt who should define what the art is. By authorities? By ourselves? I think his artwork of L.H.O.O.Q gave the answer that now it’s the art, now it isn’t. Everything could be art and art should be defined by ourselves.