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Rhea Zakich, then a young mother from Garden Grove, California, was forced not to speak for months after her doctor found polyps on her vocal cords. Although the polyps were removed and she made a full recovery, the experience affected her: unable to speak for that long period, and afraid that the problem might return, she felt emotionally estranged from her family. This led her to the realization that, as she put it, "we all spend so much time talking... but we never really communicate."
As a remedy, she decided to write down on paper cards a number of questions that she wanted to ask her husband and children. Some were light-hearted ("What do you like to do in your spare time?"), some serious and intimate ("If you could live your life over, what would you change?"). Before long, with nearly 200 cards on her hands, she realized that she could turn them into a sort of board game.
She played it with her family, and the results were surprising: her husband revealed for the first time how frightened her illness made him; her son, a bright student, expressed how he hated the constant pressure to perform well in school; the other son talked about how his brother's constant teasing hurt him. At the end of the game session, her husband said: "I've learned more about all of you in these twenty minutes than in the past five years." It was the first time each family member really felt listened to and heard, since the game rules state that players can only talk on their turns.
Later, they let their neighbors borrow the game to play with their children; the oldest son took it to his school psychology class, and his teacher asked for copies. Soon, a company was founded by someone whose family was dramatically changed by playing The Ungame. The new Ungame Company began to produce and market it, and as their line expanded, it was renamed Talicor. In 2008, the sales topped 4 million in more than 14 languages. The Ungame was the first non-competitive learning/communication game on the market and has been used in schools, churches, businesses, counseling centers, hospitals, and prisons, as well as in families and party settings.
The board is laid out as an endless loop of spaces. To begin the game, the deck of question cards is shuffled and placed face-down on the board. Each player in turn rolls a die, moves his/her marker along the path according to the number rolled, and follows the instructions on the destination space. Different types of instructions include:
- Drawing the top card from the deck and answering the question on it.
- Asking a question to another player or commenting on something he/she said earlier.
- Obeying movement directions if they apply to the player.
Players are asked to remain silent except when taking their turn or answering a question put to them.
The game ends at the players' discretion, typically once an agreed-upon time limit has been reached, and has no winner or loser.
The Ungame has a number of variations and expansions available: full board, pocket size card games (in age-specific versions), and a Christian version.
Full size board versions
- The Ungame Board Version
- The Ungame Christian Board Version
- The Ungame Catholic Board Version
These include cards only in a smaller travel sized box.
- All Ages