Alex Madrigal endorses this game:

“Don’t Be A Di*k During Meals With Friends.”

The first person to crack and look at their phone picks up the check.

Our (initial) purpose of the game was to get everyone off the phones free from twitter/fb/texting and to encourage conversations.


1) The game starts after everyone has ordered.

2) Everybody places their phone on the table face down.

3) The first person to flip over their phone loses the game.

4) Loser of the game pays for the bill.

5) If the bill comes before anyone has flipped over their phone everybody is declared a winner and pays for their own meal.

The problem with this implementation is that once one person cracks, she’s paying for the meal regardless of what happens next and so all the incentive power is gone.  It’ll be a twitter/fb/texting free-for-all.

A more sophisticated approach is to make the last person who uses their phone pay for the meal.  Its subtle:  no matter how many people have used their phone already, everybody else has maximal incentives not to be the next one.  Because by backward induction they will be the last one and instead of a free meal they will pay for everyone.

But even that has its problems because the first guy has no incentives left.  So you could do something like this:  At the beginning everyone is paying their own meal.  The first one to use their phone has to pay also for the meal of one other person.  The next person who uses their phone, including possibly if the first guy does it again, has to pay for all the meals that the previous guy had to pay for plus one more.

It would take a lot of mistakes to run out of incentives with that scheme but even if you do you can start paying for the people in the table next to you.

Barretina bump:  Courtney Conklin Knapp