The Alphabet Game is a car game played to amuse travelers on long car rides. Two or more players can compete. The basic rules are:
- Each player attempts to find the letters of the alphabet, in order, on road signs or nearby buildings.
- The word used MUST BEGIN with the letter without exception - ie A "Dairy Queen" sign can be used for either "D" or "Q" however a highway "DQ" sign can only be used for "D".
- When a player spots the letter, they must call out the letter and the word that starts with it, such as "B in Bingo!"
- Only one player can use a letter found on a sign, but other players may use other letters on that same sign. (A variation to this is: once a letter has been found on a sign, no player may use that sign for any other letters.)
- Letters on movable vehicles (e.g. trucks or license plates) cannot be used.
- If the driver is playing, signs cannot be used once they have been passed for safety reasons.
- The first player to find all the letters of the alphabet is the winner.
The game is suitable for all ages, and there are two great equalizers: the letters J and Q. More skillful players will often race ahead, but with limited instances of the letters "J" and, particularly "Q", leading players often get stuck, giving others time to catch up. This keeps the game interesting for players of different levels.
On car rides lasting several hours, variations may be introduced, such as playing in reverse (from Z-A), giving slower players a handicap (e.g. starting at "H"), choosing to include license plates (makes for a faster game on shorter trips) or disallowing proper names. Other variations include the Hawaiian Alphabet Game, played using only the 12 letters of the Hawaiian language.
The Alphabet Game is not easily adapted to other modes of transportation, such as ocean liners, or airplanes because of the lack of surrounding letters.
As mentioned, the letters "J" and "Q" are often the stumbling blocks. The letter J is somewhat more common and random in occurrence. The best places to look for some other letters include:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jamba Juice, JB's, Jim's
- Queen, Quality, Quick (convenience stores), La Quinta inns, Quizno's
- X-Ray (and other businesses that have words in their names that are intentionally misspelled, e.g., Xtreme, Xciting, etc.)
- Some people use exceptions to X because hardly anything starts with it, e.g., eXit or anything that may start with "ex"
- Zone,(bus or handicap zone), Zoo. There aren't very many businesses that have Z (other than Zellers and Zion churches) at the beginning of the word.
- http://www.momsminivan.com/bigkids.html - List of travel games for children.
- http://www.parentsconnect.com/do/play_the_alphabet_game.jhtml - Alphabet Game Information