20 dreams

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Overall, 20 dreams is pretty cool

C (11 years-old)

20 dreams is fun

J (12 years-old)

Given my fascination with games and cards, especially the Tarot, and storytelling, I was thrilled when a friend, who is an integrative arts psychotherapist, made a game called 20 dreams, which has quickly become a family favourite for us.

[NB as of 29/7/20: Only 24 hours left to order a limited special edition on kickstarter]

20 dreams is for up to six players who tell their dreams to each other. Each player gets a set of 20 emotion cards such as angry, guilty, excited and so on, which they keep to themselves and then in the centre is placed a common pack of 60 dream picture cards which represent common dream actions such as flying, falling, driving and symbols such as teeth, toilets, and tarantulas.

The players take turns to be the dream teller by pulling, in secret, an emotion from the common white 20 emotions card pack which contains the same emotions as the players own 20 emotions pack. Then, the dream teller takes three picture cards from the 60 dream picture cards which they lay out for the other players to see.

Using the three picture cards, the dream teller says: Last night, I had a dream and describes a dream scenario containing the three picture cards, and then ends by saying and I woke up feeling…. using the emotion in their secret emotion card. The other players have to guess what the emotion is, and do this by laying down the corresponding emotion card from their own emotion deck. The winner is the person who guesses the most emotions correctly.

It is fascinating to see the different ways in which people describe emotions. For example, my husband was describing feeling surprised but our children, J (12) and C (11) both thought that he felt guilty. I knew what he was trying to say having spent the best 21 years learning his language but if I hadn’t known him, I may have gone with guilty too.

The mathematically minded members of our family got straight into strategising – keeping track of which emotions had already been used in the white emotion deck and couldn’t be reused, and which cards were left – in order to determine the correct emotion. The emotional intelligence orientated (EQ) family members used empathy and emotional nous, which left me feeling a bit like a numpty when I could have been card counting instead! Though I liked to believe that the EQ people did score higher as we behaved like amateur social psychologists which added another dimension to the game.

20 dreams is quick to learn and quick to play, though we enjoy taking our time and taking turns to talk about how we would have described the emotion in the centre given the cards the dream player had to use. As a parent, I really appreciate this because our kids will be entering into the teenage years quite soon and any way to get into having a conversation about stuff helps. They often say to me: Oh my God, you are always talking about your feelings, pronouncing it faharlings as if they are separate entities and it’s just too alien to talk them that much.

Playing 20 dreams also led into other conversations about nightmares and night terrors as the things we dream about are often the thoughts or feelings we have in our waking daily life.

Jungian Psychoanalyst, Dr Clarissa Pinkola-Estes in The beginner’s guide to dream interpretation classifies common dreams into 13 archetypes: falling, flying, being naked, sitting exams, losing teeth, blocked toilets, animals, and so on which can be found and talked about in the 60 picture cards, so playing 20 dreams helps us explore further what our dreams may be telling us.

We were gifted a game prototype to try out and give feedback, but it’s so good, we’ve bought two of the new decks on the 20 dreams kickstarter page, and look forward to receiving them in November. The cards are brightly decorated pop-art style, they are really robust, good to hold and shuffle, and come in a smart compact box which makes it easy to carry about.

Overall, 20 dreams is an inspiring game, different, new, and like a breath of fresh air.

20 dreams can be found on:

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