Drinking games go back as far as ancient Greece and China. The games usually fall into one of a number of categories:
- Speed—how much alcohol can be consumed in a certain period of time (includes games such as beer bong, flippy cup, shotgunning, and boat races)
- Endurance—simple competitions to out-drink other players. Sometimes the goal is to see who can remain standing the longest (boot of beer, power hour, keg stand)
- Skill—party and bar games that focus on an act of skill. In some games, the loser is required to drink a predetermined amount; in others, the winner (beer pong, beer darts, polish horseshoes, etc.)
There are also thinking games, cards, dice, and other competitions, all with alcohol involved.
All these can, as a group, range from the benign to the ridiculous. A friendly game of darts over beers can be innocent enough; competitive drinking for the sake of speed or volume can be dangerous, even lethal.
The latest and most alarming incarnation of the drinking game is Neknomination.
The point to this game is to chug beer or alcohol and video the event; then, the video is posted on social media and others are dared to outdo it and then post their performance, adding the same dare. This leads to a sort of networked, viral drinking competition where the only possible outcome is that one-upmanship drastically overrides common sense. In addition to just drinking, players have ramped up the competition by jumping off bridges, doing motorcycle stunts, and performing other risky acts.
Neknomination-related deaths have been reported in Australia, Ireland, and the UK.
One teen in Ireland died after drinking and jumping into a river, another after mixing white wine, vodka, whiskey, and beer. A ten-year-old boy in the UK became violently ill after participating in Neknomination.
This trend clearly requires a counterforce.
One Facebook community, called Ban-Neknomination, calls attention to the dangers—and victims—of the game.
Perhaps social media, the platform upon which Neknomination depends, will provide that counterforce by means of education and positive peer pressure.