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May 10, 2017

My Incredible Flickin’ Chicken

The game of Bocce has existed since around 5,000 B.C. There have been hieroglyphics and other ancient drawings found showing people playing what appears to be the same game dating back even farther. The rules haven’t changed much since then, and Bocce remains a relatively popular, leisurely game.

It takes between two and four players to get a game going, or two teams each consisting of four people. You play by first throwing a small ball called a “pallino.” Then each player throws their larger ball in an attempt to make it land as close to the pallino as possible. The player whose ball lands the closest gets four points, the player whose ball was next gets three points, and so on. Games are typically played until one player or team has reached 12 points.

Bocce originated around Rome and is traditionally played on a court that is roughly 85 feet long and 11 feet wide, not unlike a lane in bowling. Not everyone who plays Bocce plays it on a court, though. Those who are playing strictly for fun, instead of in an official setting, prefer to skip the court in favor of their backyard, local park, or sometimes even their living room. The Haywire Group has a version of the game for just that type of unorthodox player.

Flickin’ Chicken is an intriguing interpretation of Bocce. Instead of throwing a smaller ball as a pallino first and using it as a target for larger ones, you throw a colorful frisbee and use it as a target for four differently-colored rubber chickens.

While the idea of playing Bocce with rubber chickens sounds absurd and, frankly, a little stupid, the game is almost surprisingly fun. The texture of the chickens in your hand is awkward, inciting an uncomfortable laugh. There is an odd satisfaction to throwing them, though, and it is hard to not have fun playing the game.

The chickens, in addition to being innately fun to throw, present a new challenge to the game. They bounce in random directions each time they hit the ground, making it increasingly difficult to hit the pallino. Each chicken has a small pocket of air within them which causes them to bounce (and makes them fun to squeeze).

The frisbee also adds a new twist to the game. On one side of the frisbee is a “plus one” and on the other a “minus one,” an additional reward or penalty for your score, respectively. The new spin on the pallino makes the game more interesting for modern players, especially for longtime Bocce fans.

Flickin’ Chicken can be played in any setting, which is part of what makes it more fun than a normal game of Bocce. Playing indoors adds obstacles in the form of furniture. Playing outside allows for a virtually unlimited game zone.

The game is not marketed towards any one age group but rather towards several, which is appropriate because any person of any age can easily enjoy it. The design on the box depicts an animated group of friends, one of whom is angelically tossing a cartoon chicken. It is child-friendly, but could easily be interpreted as a group of older teenagers or college students. In one of Flickin’ Chicken’s press videos, the game is being played by four clearly college-aged students, each one holding a red plastic cup. (That being said, it would be simple and amusing to turn it into a drinking game.) Although the latter marketing tactic isn’t exactly child-friendly, it’s more of a child’s game than an adult’s game. The kid in you will love Flickin’ Chicken.

Though the concept seems a little silly, Flickin’ Chicken is a great game whether it’s being played at a sixth birthday or not. It is available through the Haywire Group online and other stores.

Ellie Rulon-Miller can be reached at erulonmi@student.umass.edu.

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