A parlour game is simply a group game played indoors. Many popular present-day parlour games are guessing games such as charades, and require contestants to possess knowledge of movies, TV shows, songs, and so on.
But there were parlours before radio, TV and cinema. The themes for Victorian-era parlour games were words and vocabulary. Many of these survived intact (children still play hangman in schools), and new ones emerged, smart phones notwithstanding. Some examples: 20 Questions: A game in which the contestants (questioners) ask questions and the setter (answerer) answers. The answerer has chosen a word, and the questioners ask questions that call for a single-word response (“Yes”, “No” in the traditional game, and “Maybe” in one variation). Another version has the subject – animal, vegetable or mineral kingdom – stated at the start. It became a TV show under that name, with some spin-offs like What’s My Line.
Consequences: In one of many variations, contestants write down in turn a word or phrase for one of 11 questions, in this order: Adjective for man, Man’s name, Adjective for woman, Woman’s name, Where they met, He wore, She wore, He said to her, She said to him, The consequence was, and What the world said. The catch: the paper is folded over before the next player writes, leading to a hilarious and absurdly illogical ‘story’. A school version has the first person begin a story with one line that spills over to a second; he then folds over the paper so that the next person completes the second line but spills over to the third line; and so on.
Balderdash: One of the more enjoyable word games that does not require a player to have a large vocabulary (though it helps). A box contains hundreds of cards, each of which lists five obscure words on one side and their meanings on the other. A designated player for a round (the ‘dasher’) picks a card, and reads out a word, and then faithfully copies down the correct answer as his ‘entry’. The rest must bluff convincingly to garner votes as theirs being the correct definition.