A good game to play with children to pass the time. Doesn't have to be children though. It goes like this:

I spy... with my little eye... something that is <insert colour here>.

The child then has to try to guess what you see. If there's more than one kid, the kids take turns answering, and the first one to guess correctly wins. This game helps kids sort stuff by colour and become more observant of their environment. Then they get to ask you.

Some children aren't that good at picking objects for this game. Some will pick things that are way too obvious, or that have already been picked. And sometimes kids pick objects that are way too obscure or aren't the right colour. Some kids forget what they picked or answer yes to whatever answer you give.

You can play variations of I Spy with your peers. For example:

I spy... with my little eye... someone in CS.
I hear... with my little ear... a song that sucks.
A one hour adventure spy drama television series starring Bill Cosby as Alexander Scott and Robert Culp as Kelly Robinson: two American government agents posing as a tennis player and his trainer in a world still shivering from the Cold War. Having produced eighty-two episodes, I Spy lasted for three seasons, from September 1965 to April 1968, and is most historically significant in being the first tv drama where an African-American had landed a lead role. Comparable to other tv shows like the Avengers, the Man from UNCLE and Wild Wild West, I Spy combined wry humor with action sequences and tense situations of espionage and international political intrigue. Every week Scotty and Kelly were hip deep in something new: drug cartels, treacherous double agents on the lamb, corruption in the military, soviet counterintelligence, hypnosis and brainwashing techniques, chemical warfare and biological hazards, the occasional spoiled brat kid from Arabia or Minsk needing babysitters, and the occasional femme fatale on the scene who's too smart to know better but too dumb to resist.

The series also featured a host of special guest stars over the years including Don Rickles, Martin Landau, Walter Koenig, Victor Buono, Eartha Kitt, Caroll O'Connor, Sally Kellerman, Ron Howard, Boris Karloff, Ricardo Montalban, Dorothy Lamour, Richard Kiel, and Gene Hackman. Recurring characters included Ken Tobey as Russ Conway, Sheldon Leonard as Sorgi, France Nuyen as Sam-than McLean, Alan Oppenheimer as Colonel Benkovsky, Harold J. Stone as Zarkas, and Antoinette Bower as Shelby Clavell.

One made for tv movie, I Spy Returns, was made and broadcast in 1994, which brought Culp and Cosby back togeteher to reprise their roles one final time.

The version of 'I spy' that I played as a kid was always...
I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with (some letter).

I find this version more entertaining, perhaps just because it's the one I grew up with. Some of my favourites are:

  • eye (No-one expects you to say the word you're thinking of at the very beginning of the game. In addition, body parts such as hand, nose usually go without notice for a while after the guessing starts.)
  • chimney (Once you say 'c', everyone will start thinking of words beginning with a 'k' sound. 'Chalk', and a few others, would to just as well… provided, of course, that you can actually see chalk while you're playing.)
  • knob (Again, people will start thinking of the 'k' sound. Words that begin with a silent letter are much trickier. Knuckle is both a body part and beginning with a silent letter.)
  • ring (If the person you're playing against is wearing a ring, this is a difficult one. People forget what they're wearing. Even better is glasses.)

My brother and I always enjoyed the series of 'I Spy' books available here in Britain on such topics as Cars, Registration Numbers, and unusual vehicles. These were ideal for long car journeys, and points were awarded for different cars, for instance, a very common Ford Cortina might score 10 points, while a Lotus Elite might score 50. Registration numbers showed which city a car was originally registered in, for example EGG 346T would come from Glasgow, as would all plates beginning in _GG, or indeed _GA, _GB, etc. The books were liberally sprinkled with photographs of cars of the different types or showing the different registrations.

The idea was to spot the car or registration number before your sibling, and dash to grab your book and scribble down the number, or tick the box for your car or other vehicle. At the back of each book was a certificate which could be sent away once you'd reached 15,000 points or so. The books were available in most bookshops or newsagents. I'm sure my parents were glad to have us so innocently amused. Great fun!

'I Spy' is also a series of picture books that are more like games than actual books to read. Every 'I Spy' book contains about 12 two-page photo spreads of toys. The toys are hidden behind objects, and frequently arranged to form a model or scene. At the bottom few inches of each page, a sentence starting with "I spy" lists the objects you are supposed to find in the scene. There are usually about 12 different things to find in each picture.

Each book has a different ongoing theme, and a subtle plot that many children don't catch on to. For example, in 'I Spy: Haunted House', one picture may be of a library, and the next picture could be of a specific bookshelf in that library. In haunted houses, it is common knowledge that pulling a certain book on the shelf will reveal a secret passage, so that secret passage would likely be in the third scene.

These books can take over an hour to solve, depending on the sharpness of your eye. Similar to the 'Where's Waldo?' books, the largest problem is the book is only enjoyable once, and then worthless when you have found everything. Luckily, the 'I Spy' writers have found a way around this by making more books. The 'I Spy' library currently comprises of 19 books, which have been listed here in their entirety (and alphabetically, too!).

  • I Spy
  • I Spy: Christmas
  • I Spy: Extreme Challenger!
  • I Spy: Fantasy
  • I Spy: Fun House
  • I Spy: Gold Challenger
  • I Spy: Little Animals
  • I Spy: Little Book
  • I Spy: Little Bunnies
  • I Spy: Little Christmas
  • I Spy: Little Letters
  • I Spy: Little Wheels
  • I Spy: Mystery
  • I Spy: School Days
  • I Spy: Spooky Night
  • I Spy: Super Challenger!
  • I Spy: Treasure Hunt
  • I Spy: Ultimate Challenger!
  • I Spy: Year-Round Challenger!

The stories and the rhymes are written by Jean Marzollo, and photographs of the toy arrangements are by Walter Wick. Titles including the word 'Challenger' obviously contain more difficult puzzles, and titles with 'Little' are meant for younger kids, such as age five or so. All other titles are suitable for ages 6 and up, since the puzzles can be fun to play for young and old.

I spy with my little eye is a game in which one player (the observer) finds some arbitrary object within a particular space, and the others try to find out which object the observer is looking at. Clues can be requested by the ones guessing, most commonly based on the colour of the object, perhaps also size, density, etc. Clues are given until the object has been identified by the ones guessing.

As the players improve their skills, larger and larger areas can be defined as boundaries for which the object can be located in, as more advanced questions are asked about the properties of the object.

Many do not consider the game the game particularly interesting or fun, but it is a very effective therapy for prolonged tunnel vision. It is my opinion that this simple game should be played by people more often, at least once a week or so, so as to prevent the rampant tunnel vision present in our society.

For those interested in seriously improving their observational skills, I have a feeling that use of the psychoactive nut nutmeg along with this game could prove to be more interesting.

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