General Question

Ltryptophan's avatar

Is musical chairs a fair game?

Asked by Ltryptophan (11553points) 3 days ago from iPhone

Is there a way to play musical chairs fairly, or is the unfairness of it part of the fun?

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35 Answers

janbb's avatar

Can you specify where you think the unfairness lies?

Ltryptophan's avatar

@janbb the sitting down part.

rebbel's avatar

I think it would only be unfair if a deaf person is joining in.

janbb's avatar

You mean because one person is eliminated each time because a chair is taken away? That’s the whole point of the game. Otherwise, it’s not a game.

Ltryptophan's avatar

If there’s one chair with a back and you are on the side closest to the back, and the opponent is on the side closest to the seat when the music stops, then they have an unfair advantage!

cookieman's avatar

Not for the tone deaf it isn’t. C’mon! Some people can’t even carry a tune, much less coax a piece of furniture into singing or playing an instrument.

SnipSnip's avatar

It is a fair game.

kruger_d's avatar

@Ltryptophan, Well, yes, but there a is a 50/50 shot for both so how is that unfair?

Mimishu1995's avatar

The teachers in my center organize this game for the students all the time I do too. We line up the chairs in a circle in the center of the room, and everyone forms a circle around them. When the music plays the children walk around the chairs in circle until the music stops. Everyone can see each other and everyone is at the same distance from the chair as each other. I’d say that’s fair.

Ltryptophan's avatar

I would say that the person controlling the music’s off switch is also not necessarily doing it fairly. Maybe they are watching the game, and using unconscious bias to decide who has the best chance to sit at the moment they stop the music!

Jeruba's avatar

I don’t think I ever hated a game so much as musical chairs. Cutthroat stuff for little kids: aggression rewarded, politeness and reticence punished, embarrassment at being kicked out, shame at being laughed at, pain at becoming an outcast while the game goes on. What sadist thought it would be entertaining to put children through this? Let a heavy old black untuned upright piano be planted on her grave. Sideways.

I would say the unfairness is part of the game. It is not part of the fun.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@Jeruba I think you are looking too much into it. Children don’t see things in a serious manner like us adults. Sometimes they only care that it’s fun to them or not.

I play the game with my students and I see other teachers organize the game with their students. And the children all know that it’s a game, and just like any games, winning and losing is a natural thing. In fact, the kids don’t even mind standing aside while the game continue. Some of them are even excited to stand there watching who the winner is. No one ever laughs at the loser, and the “punishment” for losing is to answer a question related to the current lesson. I have never for once seen any child showing signs of trauma because of the game, and every class I attend is eager to play when the game is suggested, just like with other games. Children are honest and if the game isn’t fun, you will see the sign of resistance in them, which I haven’t.

The only children who doesn’t find the game fun are the ones who are too competitive and get upset when they aren’t the winners. But then again they have problems with every single game, no matter how fair it is. And those children are in the minority.

Maybe you had bad experience with the game, and I totally understand that. I’m just saying that there are still people out there who genuinely enjoy it and think it’s fun and fair to play.

Jeruba's avatar

@Mimishu1995, begging your pardon, I was speaking only for myself and not for all the little kids of the world. This is the way I did see it as a little kid. That’s why I hated it. It felt cruel, embarrassing, and inescapable. Being butt-bumped out of a chair and knocked to the floor by a strong, husky boy when I was a little feather of a thing was a regular experience with no tinge of pleasure in it.

You might be right to say I took it too seriously, and perhaps I did, because I was a serious child and took things to heart. I was serious about a lot of things that I’m guessing you might dismiss. And I was often aware that other kids took a different view of things—one reason to feel ashamed, because I didn’t subscribe to the majority view.

It wasn’t just win-or-lose; it was an elimination game. I hated all elimination games, from dodge ball to Risk. This was my honest experience. I wouldn’t call it traumatic, just a small misery that was of concern to no one but me. You can’t tell me I was wrong to have the feelings I had. I was also careful to hide them.

And I never would have dared to protest, because that too would have made me the odd one out.

filmfann's avatar

@Jeruba I agree with your assessment. Also, dodgeball.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Not only is it fair, it is a life lesson. Sometimes we win with strategy. Sometimes we win because we were in the right spot when the music stops.

When strategy is called for, do the best you can. When there is no strategy to be had, go where the music takes you, and enjoy.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@Jeruba I’m sorry you had a hard time with the game. I’m not saying you are wrong for feeling what you feel. Not every game is for everyone.

I have a toy which is a big dog and a bunch of bones. The goal is to get the bones out of the tray without the dog’s detection, or it will bark at you and the game is over. Some kids can’t wait to play because they are thrilled with the suspense of it. Others can’t touch the toy because they are afraid of the dog and the bark. I understand them all, and I don’t bring it up to the kids that hate it. Do I agree that the dog is scary? Yes! Do I think the toy is cruel and I should throw it away? No, because then I would disappoint the kids that do enjoy it.

So with this game, I also use the same approach. I would hate it if someone force me to play a game I don’t enjoy too.

flutherother's avatar

Musical chairs is as fair as it can be. Everyone has a chance of winning, though some kids have faster reflexes than others there is also an element of luck. That is all you can ask of a game, that that it gives you the possibility of winning and that’s what makes it exciting.

I suspect the adult in charge sometimes stopped the music to give the younger or smaller players the best chance and I think that was fair. It is only a game, the children are only playing at being competitive, and when the game is over the kids are usually bonded together more closely rather than being driven further apart.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

The only way to make musical chairs fair is to have an equal number of chairs to players equal, but then It wouldn’t be much of a game.

Forever_Free's avatar

Is going to Vegas fair?
It’s a CHILD’S game!

Let’s ask some children this question to see if the question is fair to ask an adult group.

Dutchess_III's avatar

The only “unfair” part is that it’s a human who decides when the music stops. Half the kids are on the seat side of the chairs and the other half are behind the chair.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I was good at musical chairs and dodge ball! I guess I was a competitive little shit.
I never felt embarrassed over getting eliminated, just disappointed in my self.

It’s been so long maybe I don’t remember how it’s played. Are the chairs in a circle or in a line? I remember them in a line…?

jca2's avatar

@Dutchess_III: The chairs are back to back.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Ah yes. Now I remember. Yes. I was a competitive little shit!

Jeruba's avatar

I remember the chairs placed in a straight line, like this, facing alternating directions:


So half the time you were passing an unavailable chair because its back was to you. This made it easy to get squeezed out by the more aggressive kids.

Those were the days when no one worried about embarrassing kids, who didn’t have such delicate feelings anyway. So little Jeruba got knocked to the floor again? Guess this just isn’t her game. She doesn’t get excused from it, though. That wouldn’t be fair, if kids could just skip any part of Sunday School that they don’t like.

Later on schoolteachers would call out kids right in class for family dysfunction or make charts on the wall (a math exercise) to measure kids’ popularity. One girl named Sylvia in my junior high class got scolded publicly by the homeroom teacher for having a lot of pimples. I wonder how much good that attention gave her.

janbb's avatar

My Social Studies teacher in 8th grade told me I had a dirty neck.

And my son didn’t find out he wasn’t invited to the National Honor Society when all the other kids were called out of Honors English but him. It threw him for a loop.

There was such cruelty in the past and no doubt still today in many ways.

SnipSnip's avatar

It was fun as a kid, and it’s fun now. Competitive games aren’t harmful for children. They can be harmful for adults when we hit the floor. :)

Mimishu1995's avatar

@Jeruba I remember the chairs placed in a straight line, like this, facing alternating directions:

Now that was unfair. I didn’t know that version existed. I’m more familiar with tye circle version where all the chairs face the kids and the kids are supposed to walk in circle.

And I would be fired if I did 1% of the thing you said.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Why was chairs facing in alternate directions unfair @Mimishu1995?

Mimishu1995's avatar

To quote @Jeruba:

So half the time you were passing an unavailable chair because its back was to you.

I’m only going by her description here.

smudges's avatar

@Jeruba Did you go to a Catholic school? Just curious because I have to say, I cannot imagine any teacher doing the things you’re talking about. I don’t doubt you a bit, I’m just freakin’ shocked as hell that 1. teachers existed who were that mean, and 2. that they weren’t fired or called to answer to it by parents. The only explanation I could think of was they must have been nuns – I’ve heard they could be pretty nasty.

I’m genuinely sorry you were in a school like that, and I understand about being a sensitive child.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I only played musical chairs at birthday parties. Never in any kind of school.

raum's avatar

It was basically a game of luck and shoving. Gave me so much anxiety.

smudges's avatar

@raum awww…so sorry.

Patty_Melt's avatar

The game is fair, @Jeruba, but how you were treated was not.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I asked my 7 year old granddaughter if she played it.
She said “Yes! And I WON!!!”
Competitive little shit!

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