Review: Real People
Publisher: Parker Brothers
Year: 1991
Players: 3 to 6 teams or players
Tagline: The Game Where Looks Can Be Very Deceiving!

The phrase Real People over a gathering of different people in diverse dress

how we met

Real People is my favorite type of thrift game find. The cover is amazing, I have never heard of it before, the price is right and the gameplay looks bizarre. It contains a bunch of photos and is a snapshot in time. I never knew I wanted Real People until I laid eyes on it for the first time. And then I was a real happy person.

how it plays

Players should decide in advance how many rounds they want to play, but this should be even for each player or team. The player or team with the most points at the end of the game wins Real People!

Players take turns being the Leader of a given round. When you are the Leader, you randomly choose four Face Cards (from the stack of 400!) and place them face-out into the plastic tray. Leaders should avoid looking at the card faces. This leaves the Leader with a list of ten facts about each of the people facing the other players. The Leader chooses one of these to read from for the rest of the round.

A photo showing four headshots
So here is a real world example from our play. May I introduce you to these real people, or at least their faces?
The accompanying list of facts for each of the people in the previous photo
Here are the list of facts to give you an idea of what to expect. The first fact card ties to first photo above, and onward respectively

To begin, the Leader chooses one fact to reveal about the person they chose. Next, players can take turns asking questions or decide together which question to ask next. But it’s important to take your time because you need to track the scoresheet as you go along.

Here is a look at the scoresheet, showing how you track and score

The faster you can guess the real person, the more points you will get. So if you think you know for certain it’s person B then turn over your scoresheet and wait out the rest of the round until other players are ready to guess. If you are correct after 3 questions you get 8 points. A player that also guessed B but waited for 6 questions would only receive 5 points.

A female cab driver with a nickname of Rocky
But do be careful. This card and her facts might throw your assumptions for a loop!

The Leader then slowly and dramatically pulls out the other people from the tray one by one until only the right person is left. Players then total their points for the round and the next round begins!

After all the rounds end, add up your total scores to find the winner of Real People!

how it went

Not only was I lucky enough to find Real People at thrift for a couple of bucks, but the cards were sealed and the stickers had yet to be placed! What a great score. No boogers on any photos, no weird smells, no dried old rubber bands.

Me holding sealed cards from the game
This is the dream. Also can we get a round of applause for this person that mentally dissolved a tumor?

The game encourages you to use careful eye movement and some amount of faking it to respond to questions so it’s unclear which card you are reading. But sometimes the facts are bizarre or even a couple of sentences long so we ended up hooding our eyes with a piece of paper instead. I think an even better approach would be to have the Leader take a photo of each card back and then privately choose which they will read. Then they are not looking at the cards at all and that loophole is closed.

Foreground is the four headshots and background is someone holding paper over their face to look at back of cards
Our paper eye cover at work

The obvious lesson of Real People is not to judge a book by its cover…while ultimately requiring you to do so. There are certainly facts about people that your bias may direct to another person based on only their photo. And there are facts that seem so obvious based on the same bias and you can really lock in your answer early. So it’s the luck of the draw I guess.

You may walk away having been mildly surprised at some of the results of who tied to which fact. But I really don’t think you will be shocked, and if you are then you should keep playing over and over until you are no longer shocked. It should never shock you that people can be surprising. And if you have a boring round? People can be really unsurprising too. No shocker there.

Bill thinks the game is fake and rigged and he may be onto something because he won Real People!

play or pass

Play. Some of these people will surprise you. Some will not surprise you. So, real people indeed. But Real People is built on a foundation that I agree with: people are interesting. In this day and age you can leverage technology to hear stories from around the globe or even people on the street in your city. But if you want a flashback to 1991, Real People might be just the thing.