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Playing With / Calvinball

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Basic Trope: A game where the rules constantly change.

  • Straight: Bob, Dan, Alice, Charlie, Lindsey, and a few others play a game whose rules keep changing.
  • Exaggerated: They play a game where the rules about the rules changing change, and then some.
  • Downplayed: The rules change just at halftime, so as not to overwhelm the newcomers.
  • Justified:
    • Truth in Television; there are games (albeit limited to mostly board and card games) that play by such rules.
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    • All of them are Cloud Cuckoolanders, and are trying to cross into Mad Hatter territory.
    • They're kids, and like to make up games as they go along for fun, or are too immature to stick to one set of agreed rules.
    • There are rules, but they're so complex and ambiguous the only one that gets invoked is Rule Zero.
  • Inverted: The players constantly change, but the rules don't.
  • Subverted: At first glance, it may seem like they're playing Calvinball, but they're really just shooting a scene where that happens.
  • Double Subverted: Years later, after the film is released, a fan releases his version of the game, which is true to the original.
  • Parodied: Calvinball has become a national sport, and they tune in to watch the championship round. Bonus points if it's advertised as "The Most Random Game of the Year," or something along those lines.
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  • Zig Zagged: One of the new rules that comes up is "No new rules until halftime." When halftime occurs, the rules reset, and the rule that caused the lack of rule changing is shuffled back into the set.
  • Averted: They're just playing an average game, sport or otherwise.
  • Enforced: "So, this is set in Cloud Cuckoo Land? Then let's have their national sport be this."
  • Lampshaded: "Are you just making the rules up as you go?" "Kinda, yeah."
  • Invoked: They have overactive imaginations and think it would be fun to play a game like this.
  • Exploited: Someone plays Rules Lawyer to get the other players to forfeit by default because they didn't change the rules randomly enough.
  • Defied:
    • An angry neighbor who is fed up with the constant of change attempts to stop the game to say "No New Rules." Cue comedic routine about one of the players saying "That rule hasn't come up yet."
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    • This same angry neighbor asks what game is going to be played. The moment he is told "Calvinball", he makes clear what he thinks of its nonsense by pulling off a Rage Quit.
    • The neighbor yanks out a gun and places it to the alleged referee's face. "RULES!!! DEFINED AND EXPLAINED!!! NOW!!!"
  • Discussed:
    • "Y'know, this game would've been a lot more exciting if the rules kept changing." "Don't you need a formula to determine how the rules change for that?" "Nah, you just need a deck of cards."
    • "Isn't it funny that the rules keep changing whenever you need things to be easier for your team?"
  • Conversed: After watching a Show Within a Show known for being an audience's Mind Screw, Bob and Dan attempt to work out the formula for changing the rules.
  • Played For Horror: It's a game where you die if you break the rules. But how can you know all the rules when they keep shifting?

And we're back to Calvinball, and the score is now Horseshoe to 665!

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