A new drinking game is sweeping the British nation—it involves losing money and no drinking.
If that sounds farfetched, it’s because the game consists of ordering pints and other drinks to people you’ll never meet out of the goodness of your heart—like Italy’s caffe sospesa, but with alcohol and in English.
Called “Wetherspoons: The Game” the activity has attracted international media attention, and the story goes like this. One day, Chris Illman from Portsmouth was out drowning his sorrows after a bad breakup and a cancer diagnosis at the local JD Wetherspoons, the largest UK pub chain which has over 800 locations.
Illman discovered a sort of loophole in the Wetherspoons app where one can select their location manually rather than activating their phone’s automatic location services. This would allow them to enter a table number and order drinks anywhere in the nation. After the discovery, Illman created a closed Facebook group for him and his buddies to buy each other drinks this way.
Then one day, the group became open, and in a few days there were 500,000 members.
The way that the Wetherspoons Game works is that people post a photograph of themselves, their ID card, and their location and table number along with an explanation of why someone should buy them a drink.
A group of dedicated volunteer moderators then check the ID, and approve only the polite and good-natured posts to the wall, where anyone can check the feed and decide to send them a drink.
“Hi, we’re 3 overworked and underpaid ICU nurses playing for the first time after a hard day’s work. Any contributions are extremely welcomed,” wrote a group of friends last night.
“One bottle of fizz on route from a tired 2nd yr student nurse 😜🤣 enjoy xx and thanks for your patience with us students,” a generous commenter replied.
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“We are out tonight to cheer ourselves up after an emotional day, my hamster of 3 years sadly died today and having to bury her in the garden whilst it was snowing was quite the challenge!!! my hands were numb and so was my heart,” wrote a woman from East London, who was sent, among other things, a strawberry daiquiri.
In Italy since the time of the Second World War, under-caffeinated patrons coming into a bar might leave a tip in a jar marked “caffe sospesa” or “suspended coffee.” The tip was to pay forward a coffee for the next person to come into the bar—as if you were buying a coffee for the whole world, the Italians say.
However, il caffe sospesa takes place in the bar, and not online. As a result, it can’t go viral—but the Wetherspoons game can, and sometimes recipients are doused in so much booze they end up having to pass the drinks all around the pub just to avoid having to take a taxi home.
“It’s really hard to explain,” Illman told the Wall Street Journal. “People, it turns out, love sitting on their sofas during nights in ordering drinks for people enjoying a night out, he says. Very few of them give to receive.”
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