The Love Bug Game: 10 Years and 4 Versions of Car Fun

Shawn and I started playing this car game a decade ago when we used to log long miles in the car together between his place in western Pennsylvania, my family’s home in Virginia, and New York City.  Since then, we’ve spent hours in the car together, traveling to see family and friends, going on a coast-to-coast road trip, and running errands.  We even drove to work together for three years.

To make that time together more fun, we started playing the Love Bug Game.  I think we are now in Version 4.0 with the inclusion of Riley in the mix.  Here’s a quick look at our game, how it works, and its evolution:

Version 1.0

1.  Love Bug.  When a player sees a Volkswagen Beetle anywhere (on the road, in a parking lot, in a driveway, etc.), he earns one point.  The player must call out “Love Bug” plus the color of the car (for example, “Love Bug Maroon!”).  If a player calls out Love Bug in error (that is, they don’t actually see a Beetle), the other player gets a free hit.  The player with the most points wins.  A new game starts every day and lasts for only one day regardless of how many car trips or the duration of a car trip on that day.  Players must spot Love Bugs in the vicinity of each other for them to count.

Version 2.0

Above guidelines plus the following additions:

1.  Dealer Lots.  Love Bugs in dealer lots do not count.  In Version 1.0, they were a crazy frenzy.  Imagine “Love Bug orange.  Love Bug cream.  Love Bug black.  Love Bug Gray with white roof.  Love Bug blue.  Love Bug navy.  Love Bug eggshell.”  On and on.  Driving proved difficult during these moments.

2.  The Element.  If a player sees an Element and calls out “Element,” she sends the other player back to 0.  If the Element call is in error, the other player gets a free hit.  A cruel, cruel addition.

Version 3.0

1. Lockdown.  When a player is at 0 and the other player sees an “Element,” the player @ 0 goes into Lockdown.  To get out of Lockdown, the player can use either an Element or a Love Bug.

2.  Starting Bonus.  If a Love Bug is spotted first, the player who calls it gets 2 points.  If an Element is spotted first, the player who calls it gets 1 point and send the other player into Lockdown.

3.  Sleep Mode.  When a player is sleeping, the game is paused.  If a player is reading or dealing with children, game play continues.  Sleep is the only reason for play to be suspended while the game is on.  If Shawn and I are together, the game is always on.

Version 4.0

1.  Introducing the Little Ones.  Now that Riley can recognize Beetles, she is invited to quasi-play.  That means, any Love Bug she sees counts for her, even if it is a repeat of one that we have already called. But the reverse does not hold true.  If Riley calls a Love Bug, it becomes off-limits for us.  Riley does not get sent to 0 or Lockdown.  Perhaps when she starts to recognize Elements, that will change.

And there you have it!  The Love Bug game.  Now that it is summertime and we leave the house at least once all together every day, we’ve both been stepping up our game.  Yesterday morning, I was up 5 to Lockdown and Riley had 2.  But by the day’s end, I lost.  So not cool.  Ah, but today is a new day, and we are getting ready to hit the YMCA for some swimming.  Bring it.

Why My Children Will Be Gamers

I have grown up in a family of game-players.  My husband and I are big gamers.  For the most part, though, I’ve viewed my fondness for gaming as a guilty pleasure, time spent away from more important things.  I cannot even begin to tell you how many hours I spent playing Tetris in college.  Or Settlers of Catan last semester and over the holidays.  Or City of Heroes and WOW before the kids were born.  But now, I’m starting to rethink all that.  Thanks, Cathy Davidson!

I’ve been reading her book for class, Now You See It.  Not only does she make me feel better about all the games I play/have played, but she encourages me to consider games as a critical part of my kids’ education.  In a chapter called “The Epic Win,” she focuses on the importance of games to learning.  She relates the five characteristics of the “gamer disposition”:


1.  are bottom-line oriented

2.  understand the power of diversity

3.  thrive on change

4.  see learning as fun

5.  marinate on the edge (Davidson 158)

Yes, please sign my kids up for these qualities!