It’s Friday night. Rather than pack Georgetown with hundreds of other GW students, crafters of the art of drinking have carefully placed dozens of soda cups along a table. Dirty ping pong balls and a keg of beer await the competition.
Or maybe four people are lined up in a face-off of flip cup, separated by a table and some loud air.
No matter what configuration the Busch light, wooden table, cups or playing cards work themselves into this weekend, whether playing beer pong or flip cup or whether going out or staying in, someone, somewhere, will be shouting during a round of a popular drinking game.
A growing number of GW students are playing drinking games as an alternative to going out for the weekend.
In its guidelines, the Center for Alcohol and Drug Education at GW strongly urges students not to play the games because they promote extreme consumption of alcohol within short time spans – a combination that could lead to hospitalization and even death in some cases.
These guidelines state that drinking in a fast-paced manner within short periods of time will raise the chances of severe intoxication or loss of consciousness.
But these facts do not seem to deter many students from playing drinking games at least a few times a month.
Senior Ben Carlone brought six of his friends from Georgetown University to a party where GW students competed against the rival school in intense rounds of beer pong and flip cup.
“It was fun competition and rivalry. Both teams wanted to win just so they could brag to one another,” Carlone said.
He said drinking games are a fun way to interact with friends instead of spending money at bars.
“I’d rather play drinking games with friends than spend $5 on a drink in a bar,” Carlone said.
Students said games are a fun way to drink without having to wait in long lines at clubs.
“It’s something to do before we go out; it’s a fun change from the routine,” junior Amanda Muehlberg said. “We usually play quarters before heading to a club.”
Quarters is a game in which players slam coins on the table and attempt to bounce them into the other team’s cup, forcing opponents to drink. Muehlberg says she plays with several shot glasses surrounding a double shot glass, all filled with beer. When a player lands a quarter into the glass of an opponent, they have to drink the contents of the glass.
Muehlberg said quarters is not the only form of drinking game she plays.
“We play asshole, drunk driving, kings, circle of death or sometimes just make up our own games,” Muehlberg said. “Sometimes we are watching a movie and when the character says a certain word you have to drink.”
For students short on cash, Muehlberg said drinking games are cheap and do not require the effort involved with going to clubs or bars.
“The number one reason I play is that it is cheaper. Picking up a 30-pack is a lot easier than going out to the bars. It is a fun alternative that saves money,” said Meredith Ramsey, a senior who plays beer pong an average of three times a week.
Beer pong is a game in which as many as 10 cups filled halfway with beer are arranged in a triangle formation on each side of a table. Teams compete to land their ping-pong balls in the opposing team’s cups, making the other side drink. The first team to lose all cups must drink the remaining beer on the table.
Although there are different ways to play the game, most students agree on its purpose.
“There is a sense of competition in us that we can apply to beer pong. With bars it’s hit or miss. With drinking games you always have fun with your friends,” Ramsey said.
She said when she throws bigger parties they organize people into teams and hold tournaments of beer bong and flip cup.
Flip cup is a game where players line up on either side of the table, chug their beer one at a time and flip the cup from the edge so it lands bottom-up on the table. The relay-style game continues until each person on the team has drunk twice.
Junior Kevin Wong plays drinking games an average of once a week.
“It’s a great time. We play (beer pong) and sometimes a game with darts where if you hit certain parts of the board certain people drink,” he said.
Wong said he thinks drinking games are a time to “kick it” with friends and a way to bond.
“It’s almost group bonding; you have a chance to humiliate everyone. It’s a lot cheaper, too,” Wong said.
Wong said although he likes playing drinking games, he doesn’t always prefer them to going out.
“I still like going out, but if I want to stay somewhere like an apartment and hang out with friends for a night, I want to do something fun so we play drinking games,” Wong said.