Сatena is an entertaining word game that helps develop creative thinking. Catena trains a free, associative style of thinking, and assists in observing both dominant patterns and vertical thinking. It also has many other uses (see below).
- The game consists in connecting two words with a chain of associations. The resulting chain is called catena.
- Only nouns are allowed.
- Elements consisting of two words are only allowed when they are stable, e.g. bell tower, and cannot be used separately (e.g. the transition «bell tower — tower» is not allowed).
- There can be any number of players. The winner is the one who builds the shortest and wittiest chain.
- Allowed kinds of associations are:
- Associations which are essentially characteristic for the object (e.g. Russia — vodka).
- Analogies (rain — fountain).
- Metaphors (bell tower — candle).
- Forbidden kinds of associations are:
- Vertical associations based on hierarchical systems: deduction, induction, classifications, categories (e.g. horse — mammal).
- Associations which are not essentially characteristic for the subject or are characteristic for multiple objects (e.g. beer — water, because there is water in beer).
- Arbitrary, personal associations (cherry — love, because I love cherries).
- Associations by opposition (water — flame).
- Subcultural associations — slang, anecdotes, movies etc, e.g. mother — atom, because there is a song by Pink Floyd called Atom Heart Mother.
- Associations by alliteration.
- Criteria for catena evaluation:
- They should conform to the rules.
- The shorter, the better.
- Wittiness, humor.
- Two-way links are better. An example of a two-way link: game — rules; one-way link: repairs — building, but not vice versa.
- Strong links are better. An example of a strong link: game — child; weak link: game — emotion.
- market, mist:
market — forecast — mist,
market — morning — mist
- mother, atom:
mother — nature — physics — atom,
mother — warmth — energy — atom
- Prague, stool:
Prague — bar — stool
- euro, eternity:
euro — coin — circle — eternity
- ticket, thought:
ticket — road — crossword — thought
- For everyone: entertainment and development of mental abilities.
- For creators and artists: brainstorming and personal creativity development.
- For HR specialists: the game can be used for assessment, as it demonstrates both intellectual and emotional capabilities and shows how flexible one’s thinking is.
- For psychologists: the game can be used for testing; further research needed.
- For language teachers: it’s possible to use the game for learning not only words, but entire groups of connected words.
- For inculturation: games involving both natives and newcomers to help the latter better understand another culture.
Catena was gradually developed by Vitaly Kolesnik between 1989 and 2006. The name came from philosophy — the term «Catena Mundi» was used by Descartes for describing the connections among everything.