A really great game for warmup in a theatre class or workshop, or classroom setting (especially for younger kids).

Everyone gets into a big circle (this is best for groups of more than 5, or so) standing up. There are three sorts of actions that can be performed in a game of Zip Zap Bop (or ZZB):
  • Zip - The person whose turn it is enthusiastically points to the person to the left or right of them while saying "Zip." This passes the "charge" (like an electrical charge, or pulse) to them. You can only change the direction of a Zip if you are Bopped in your attempt to pass the Zip in the correct direction.
  • Zap - To perform a Zap, the person to whom the charge was just passed (through a Zip or Zap) puts their hands together, palms facing together, as though they are praying, and points to a person anywhere in the circle, making sure to make eye contact. Simultaneous with this motion they say "Zap." A Zap can be performed at any time as long as that player is the current charge-bearer. (Some schools claim that you shouldn't be allowed to Zap to someone to your immediate left or right, because that would negate the purpose of Zip)
  • Bop - To Bop, a player puts up both of his/her hands (like you would "Come out with your hands up") and says "Bop." A Bop blocks a Zip from being passed to you, but you may not Bop a Zap.

Some additional notes:
Have fun!

I was taught this game in a recent theatre class, and am as of yet unaware of its origins, though I do know that it is quite famous and traditional, as far as exercises of this type go.

I know emoin's game, but in a slightly different version, and with more, and more complicated rules... Yes, it’s silly. I’ll say that straight away, just in case anyone later accuses me of silliness. But, y’see, it’s not my silliness.

Zip Zap Boing

Zip Zap Boing is a game: I guess it could be described as a New Game; it’s certainly a drama game, and that’s where I know it from; it could, I suppose, also be a bizarre kind of drinking game – it’s not out of the question. It’s about teamwork, and group dynamics, and enthusiam… It’s also about learning to be silly, which is a good thing if you’re a drama student (I spent a huge amount of my time being a drama student, it seems, being silly, albeit in thoughtful and well considered ways).

It works best with about ten people, although can be played with fewer. You will need space for them all to stand up in a circle and swing their arms about without much major damage to themselves or the room.

One person begins with a Zip. A Zip is like a small particle of electricity (yes, I know – it’s an awful simile for all sorts of reasons, but it’s helpful too – bear with me) and it is passed from one person to another around the circle. This involves the swinging of one’s arms in the direction of the Zip (obviously either clockwise or anticlockwise): there’s a bit of hip action involved here too, in fact the more dynamic the Zip, the better. As the Zip is passed the person passing shouts, ‘Zip’.

Obviously, this one rule alone would result in a Zip travelling round and round the circle ad infinitum. Boings allow the Zip to change direction. When a player wishes to Boing a Zip, they turn and face the incoming Zip head on. Then with the arms straight and raised slightly (at about, say, 45 degrees to the body), and with much hand waggling, they shout, ‘Boing’, which returns the Zip in the other direction (so whoever Zipped it to them gets it back, travelling in the opposite direction).

Zaps, however, send the Zip across the circle to whoever is Zapped. When a would be Zapper receives an incoming Zip, in order to Zap they assume a ‘Charlie’s Angels’ sort of pose, with hands linked to form a gun (not that I approve of games with guns, you understand: this is an exception) and then points them, assertively at someone across the circle. Whilst doing this, they shout, ‘Zap’. The Zapped can then decide which way the Zip will now proceed.

Predictably, these three rules lead to some interesting disputes. Can one Boing a Boing? Yes: this is perfectly acceptable. In fact, Boings can pass back and forward. However due to the nature of Boings, each Boing must be bigger than the preceding one (that is, more hand waggling, and an altogether bigger ‘Boing’). When a Boing can no longer be made bigger, the Boinger must console themselves with a Zip in the appropriate direction. Can Zaps be Boinged? Yes indeed: they return to the Zapper, who is free to Zap or Zip as they see fit. Boings, however, cannot be Zapped. A Boing can precede most things, but not, and never, a Zap (or a Tick – but more of that later).

These then are the staples of Zip Zap Boing. I did say it was silly.

And then there’s Kapwing (with thanks, I suspect, to Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes). Once Zipped, a player can Kapwing: a head movement akin to heading a ball (and which has a loud vocal ‘Kapwing’ to go with it), again in the direction of the Zip. The Zip skips the next person and lands on the player next to them. The Kapwing can be Boinged back to the person who Kapwinged, who may then, should they so wish, Boing it back (this is, though, technically a Boinged Boing, and the above rules apply).

A player can start a Tick once Zipped. A Tick passes round the circle in exactly the same manner as a Zip, although there are no hand movements, just the turning of one’s head as the Tick passes with a conspiratorially whispered ‘Tick’. The Tick must pass round the whole circle, and cannot be interfered with it. When it returns to the Ticker (who does not need to Tick again), the whole circle takes one step towards the centre and shouts, ‘Boom!’. The Ticker should then Zip in the appropriate direction. (This must have been inspired by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince’s‘Boom! Shake The Room’)

Finally, there is Bong. Once someone receives a Zip, they may raise both hands so that their palms are level with their head and leadenly intone, ‘Bong’. Everyone then assumes the ‘Bong’ position, and the whole circle bows to each other similarly announcing ‘Bong’ at the same time. A Zip from the Bonger should follow a Bong. No one is allowed to question the Bong rule.

As I said, it’s not my silliness.

Anyone who makes an illegal move, says the wrong sound effect to go with the wrong action, goes out of turn, or lacks enthusiasm must sit (if it’s being played as a drama game), drink (if it’s being played as a drinking game) or relax in the knowledge that there are no winners or losers (if it’s being played as a New Game).

It is, of course, best played loud. But it can be played silently, with actions only: this is great fun to do, but massively strange to watch. It can be played without any actions at all – words and glances signalling actions and direction. Like this it takes on weird and indecipherable symbolism, rather like a Pinter play.

Weird. Enjoyable, but weird.

Oolong informs me ('mainly for added confusion') that when he plays this, a Zip becomes a Piz when travelling anticlockwise... I'll have to try it...

you can also play zip zap boing (aka zip zap bop) with 5 people with EYES CLOSED (or just eyes open and just words but no motions), if you add the following moves:

wait. first, let me explain what my friends and I call FLOW. flow is the direction of the invisible "ball" or so-called "electrical charge" that you pass around when you play zip zap boing. Flow can either be clockwise or counter-clockwise. For example, let's say you are sitting in your 5-person circle and you zip the person to your left. then the flow is going clockwise. if you zap the person two over to the right of you, flow is counter-clockwise. if you zap the person two to your left, flow would be... that's right, clockwise. when going across the circle (like when someone zaps), the Flow goes the way that someone would go if they tried to go the least distance between sender of the "electric charge" and the reciever. anyways, that is FLOW. It might be confusing, but important in the following moves.

Zippy: This is essentially a zip, but it goes against the flow to the person next to you. Note: if the person right next to you zips you, you cannot zippy back to them. That would be a BOING!! Not allowed.
Zip: Zip is now a zip that goes with the flow. So when someone zaps you from across the circle, you can either zip or zippy, depending on who you want to pass to.

wait, there's more...

Zappy: When you get zipped by the person next to you, you can zappy against the flow to the person across the circle that is closest if you go the anti-flow direction. (whoa...) Note: If you get zapped from across the circle, you cannot zappy. You can only either zap, which goes across the circle to the person you DIDN't just recieve from, or you can BOING!!! Remember that a Boing outweighs both zippy and zappy. If a zippy/zappy does the same thing as a Boing, use a Boing.
Zap: then, is now a zap WITH the Flow.

Sound confusing? Yeah, it does. Play it with your friends, on the phone, on instant messenger, anywhere!!

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