Friday, April 29, 2005
is a lovely game - easy to learn and understand, easy to play, and, most remarkably, as the game continues, it gets even more interesting.
It's a well-made, wooden game, of the quality we've come to expect from Blue Orange Games
. There are 12 wooden pegs that come in 6 different colors. These "jewels" are hidden in 12 wooden cylinders, all of the same color, and placed around a board that looks like a crown. A pair of six-sided dice determine which colors the player is trying to find.
At first, it seems like a simple memory game. If you can remember which color is where, chances are you'll be able to find the colors you roll. Then it gets a little more complex. Once a color is correctly identified, the peg and cylinder become the temporary
property of the player who guessed it, who then arranges her prizes in a line in front of her. If you can remember which colors she has where, then you have a better chance of winning when it is your turn, because you can take anyone's "jewels." Of course, this means you have to forget where the colors were originally.
As the game continues, and "jewels" change hands and places, the challenge increases. This goes on until the last jewel is taken from the playing board crown. The rules even encourage the players to help each other, keeping in mind that it is always a strategic decision whom to help and why.
Having two dice to play is an act of compassion on the designer's part, because, with two colors, there's always the chance that you might know where the next one is. If you know where both colors are, you, most deservedly, get another turn.
Maask is a genuine family-worthy game, of interest to anyone who has a memory, fun for anyone who likes to play.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Knowing How to Play
Mark Harris has graced us with a wonderful article called: "Are We Having Fun Yet? The Benefits of Play
." It is difficult to figure out which parts of the article are most worthy of your attention, because Harris is a remarkably clear-thinking visionary, whose words are alive with fun.
For the record, there's one section in which he tells one of my favorite Csickszentmihalyi stories, because it's not so much about finding fun or having transcendent fun, but about creating fun. So, this is where I'll start:
"Csikszentmihalyi tells an interesting story about a sixty-year-old factory worker named Joe who lived on Chicago's South Side. This man's job entailed building railroad cars in a huge hangar. The conditions in the hangar were harsh, unprotected as it was from Chicago's extremes of weather. Joe, who had only a fourth grade education, was also on the low rung of the factory.
"Yet, as Csikszentmihalyi describes, Joe was one of the happiest people he had ever met. At work Joe was exactly where he wanted to be. He had no desire to be a foreman because he only wanted to fix the machinery. And fix the machinery he did. All of it. Better than anyone. In fact, the word around the plant was that if Joe retired, they might as well close up shop because he kept everything going.
"But Joe's passion for fixing things didn't end at work. At home he had built a rock garden with an underground watering system. The garden also included a lighting system designed to produce rainbows. Thus, Joe and his wife could sit on their porch in the evenings surrounded by rainbows. Joe had made of his life one seamless expression of a particular passion; in this case, a passion for building and fixing things. He possessed the gift of being able to completely absorb himself in his interests. In his living and in his working, Csikszentmihalyi concludes, Joe was a man who knew how to play."
But I was especially touched by what Mark said at the end of this most readable and useful piece:
"What struck me as I watched these young girls was how thoroughly engaged they were. And how I envied them. If, as it is said, children think heaven is being an adult and adults think heaven is being a child, then in that moment their world seemed like heaven to me. The way they played was so natural, so complete. So content.
"I say, let's pretend we've created a world where we all work reasonable schedules with plenty of time to laugh and play and just enjoy each other. Let's pretend we've let go of our worries about money and power or whatever we think we want that we don't have. Let's pretend we've created a less strife-torn, conflicted world, one in which we've learned to relax more and mistreat each other less.
"I say, let's pretend, rediscover what any child knows about the truth of living in the moment. And how wonderful it is to be fully human, fully alive. Who knows? If we play it for all it's worth, we might just make it happen."
Yes, and again yes, and twice more yes, yes, with poets and visionaries like Mark Harris to remind us to play, we might indeed just make it happen.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
is one of 66 images of Latte Art, collected by a fellow named "Tonx." Yes, you're looking at a cup of coffee. A Latte, to be precise. And yes, the steamed milk is swirled somehow so it looks almost exactly like a leaf. And, like I said, it's only one of 66 images - best seen as a slide show
Now that you've got a taste for what this Latte Art is all about, you might further amuse yourself by watching this little clip
of Latte Art in the making. The clip's very lo-res, but there's just enough to make you gasp in wonder and the kind of mastery one can achieve as a devoted Latte Artist.
And this, of course, is the whole point. The kind of mastery. The kind that appears with a swirl, and then disappears with a sip. Ephemeral art. Performance art. Art that is more than anything for the sheer fun of being able to do it.
Need further instructions? See these pages
And, if you're in Vegas between June 3-5, and you just don't know what to do with yourself - take a gamble and visit the Millrock Latte Art Competition
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
A Die to Sport For
Suppose, instead of a soccer ball, you have a die (as in one of a pair of dice). Let's say it's a 5-inch, 20-sided die. Made of foam, but coated so it can take some good kicks. And your score depends not only on your kicking the die into the goal, but also on the number that shows up on top of the die when it stops rolling. Seems a little random, doesn't it? Not something you could really control or anything. Kind of up to the roll of the die, as it were. On the other hand, that little bit of randomness could be just the thing needed to keep both teams in play, because even though you may be two or three goals down, there's still the chance that when you finally do score, you'll roll a 20.
I know, a brand new, coated, foam-rubber, 20-sided, $5.95 die is not what you'd call "junk." On the other hand, it could prove to be just the thing your friendly family soccer game needs to keep more people in play longer.
There's a whole category here of stuff - not actual junk, but neat stuff that you have to buy - well, I suppose you could make your own kickable dice out of cardboard cartons and then it would be more junkly, but that's not the point here at all is it? Rather, that there's this neat stuff, all around, especially the kind of stuff you'd find in a physical education supply catalogue, like, for example, Toledo
, where I found this die - stuff that can bring more people and more fun into the game. And, as such, becomes a source for invention and inspiration for anyone who cares anything about play at all. It brings to mind one of the football variations I wrote about in Junkyard Sports
- called "Chess Football" (demo game 5.7) - where each team has a certain number of single step moves before the other team gets to move. You could throw the 20-sided die to determine just how many moves the team would be allowed for that turn, and, if you so desired, you could play, as described in the demo game called "Scooter Football" (5.12), play Chess Football on, well, scooters
Friday, April 22, 2005
Certainly you remember Halfball
, the 50's and 60's Philadelphia and Boston stickball-like, baseball-related game played with a broomstick and half a hollow-rubber ball. And certainly you've seen the official halfball equipment
where, for only $30, you get the "41 inch long by 1.25 inch diameter halfball bat. Handcrafted and turned by a batmaker in Maine, USA to capture the feel of cherished memories, branded with the Halfball logo (and) three bonus halfballs are included with every order." Yes, yes, I admit, there's a little irony here, halfball being a Junkyard Sport par excellence
, created, out of necessity, when one's Pimpleball split - and now we have people who are marketing official, pre-made halfballs. But my question to you is have you seen Halfrubber
, the beach game?
Yes, yes, remarkably similar to that which we've come to know as Halfball. Played with remarkably similar equipment. But in bathing suits. On the sand. With only three people. A fun thing. A good thing. A thing to be celebrated. A thing to be played.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
are, as the name so clearly implies, hexagonal dominoes. 132 hexagonal dominoes, to be precise. Compared to your basic rectangular, 28-in-a-set, two-number dominoes, Heximoes are at least three times more complex. So the question is, are they, as the manufacturer suggests, six times more fun?
Though it is difficult to quantify fun, it is not at all difficult to experience the fun of Heximoes. They are every bit as fascinating as dominoes (see this
for more about the many wonders of dominoes). And, because they are hexagons and each number is a different color, the games you can play with them tend to make much more appealing, geometric patterns. The challenge of placing tiles is also far more fascinating, since you have to match each adjacent tile (which can be as many as six!).
The manufacturer Educational Insights
describes three different games, and a solitaire version, each of which is as inviting and challenging as any domino game you can think of. If you know dominoes, you'll understand how to play Heximoes almost immediately. On the other hand, the experience of playing with six-sided tiles is so clearly unique, that any comparison to traditional dominoes does little justice to the experience of play.
Heximoes are made of cardboard, so they can't compete with the look and feel of a traditional, ivory, wood or plastic game of dominoes. But they certainly can compete with the play value. All in all, Heximoes are Major FUN
Labels: Major Fun
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Though you need special equipment in order to play Bumball
(i.e. Bumball clothes which feature a large patch of velcro on your chest and your, well, bum; and an inflatable ball covered with velcro strips), Bumball is, in concept and affect, a Junkyard Sport of the highest order. Witness: Bumball tip #7: "Adjusting the rules to fit the players, the surroundings and the intention of being together will make a perfect Bumball game."
As for goals, they "are determined by the two teams jointly, for instance wall bars, hula hoops, mattresses or anything at hand. The number of scoring spots depends on the number of players. Two teams of 4 players allow 5 scoring spots, two teams of 5 allow 6 etc. Please beware that Hula hoops may be slippery on smooth surfaces. Instead you may use existing lines on the floor, or use adhesive tape to line up the scoring spots.
Finally, players are encouraged to create new rules. The rationale given: "In the process of creating new rules and testing them, children learn a great number of qualifying elements. They learn how to solve conflicts, negotiate and critically evaluate other players' proposals. Not all games will be improved, however, seeing that it takes practice, luck and a great deal of testing and adjustment to change the rules of a game. Still, children will gain invaluable insight into evaluation, dialogue and problem solving."
Which, of course, is the whole point of Junkyard Sports.
As for the rules, for example:
Bumball rule #1: "Players are always allowed to run with the ball when it is sticking to their bum."
However, according to Bumball rule #9: "Players cannot score a goal when they run with the ball sticking to their bum."
For a more detailed explication of the rules of the game, see: this
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Ludicorp, Flickr, the Game, and the Styles of Playing
The company that produces one of my favorite photo-sharing technologies, Flickr
(recently purchased by Yahoo), calls itself "Ludicorp
" - a name most worthy of our critically ludic attention. It's cute, all right. But, as we must ask of anyone attributing ludicness to themselves, do they really mean it?
They call their product line "Groupware for Play," explaining: "we're building a better platform for real time interaction online." Groupware for play. What meaningful goal. A better platform for interaction. What noble purpose!
To understand how they really view themselves and their mission, look at how they choose to describe their corporate philosophy on their "About
" page (probably pronounced "aboot" - since they're from Canada):
"Business owners do not normally work for money either. They work for the enjoyment of their competitive skill, in the context of a life where competing skillfully makes sense. The money they earn supports this way of life. The same is true of their businesses. One might think that they view their businesses as nothing more than machines to produce profits, since they do closely monitor their accounts to keep tabs on those profits.
"But this way of thinking replaces the point of the machine's activity with a diagnostic test of how well it is performing. Normally, one senses whether one is performing skillfully. A basketball player does not need to count baskets to know whether the team as a whole is in flow. Saying that the point of business is to produce profit is like saying that the whole point of playing basketball is to make as many baskets as possible. One could make many more baskets by having no opponent.
"The game and styles of playing the game are what matter because they produce identities people care about. Likewise, a business develops an identity by providing a product or a service to people. To do that it needs capital, and it needs to make a profit, but no more than it needs to have competent employees or customers or any other thing that enables production to take place. None of this is the goal of the activity."
"The game and the styles of playing the game are what matter..." Gotta love it.
Monday, April 18, 2005
It was more than two years ago when a game called "Gobblet
" became the first strategy game to get a Major FUN Award
. Today, it's Gobblet, Jr.
, a simpler version of Gobblet where the goal is to get three-, instead of four-in-a-row.
What makes the game so attractive is: 1) it's based on tic-tac-toe - so, if you know tic-tac-toe, you'll be able to understand how to play, pretty much immediately; and 2) it's way more interesting than tic-tac-toe. Way. Each player gets two sets of nesting cylinders. Players take turns placing any of their cylinders down anywhere on the board. And yes, if you have a larger cylinder, you can even put it on top of your opponent's cylinder. Which, you probably already see, has enough strategic implications to make playing the game utterly fascinating. OK. Maybe not as utterly as Gobblet, uh, Sr., where you have three sets of nesting cylinders and are playing on a 4x4 board on an even more woody box, but definitely utterly enough.
Though it's called "Gobblet, Jr," it's not getting a "Kids" award, or even a "Family" award, but a full-fledged, adult-worthy, Thinking
games award, just like its bigger brother.
See, at the last Tasting, I didn't tell anyone about the other Gobblet. I showed them Gobblet, Jr., and I said, look, even though it looks like a kids' game, play around with it as if it were a big person's game, deserving of the best of your very adult selves. And they did. And it was. Even in its simpler, 3x3 version. A game to be taken most maturely. Even if kids like it, too.
Labels: For Kids, Major Fun
Friday, April 15, 2005
Embedded player Noise E. Piranha reports:
"Spring has finally sprung here in the northeast, and yesterday while I was playing Frisbee with a friend in a nearby park, we saw a group of people playing an interesting game that you, perhaps, invented?"
Not, in fact, having invented that game, I probed for further details. Noise elaborated:
"It was like baseball, but the ball was huge... bigger than a dodgeball, but smaller and more substantial than a beach ball... like a big kickball, I suppose. And the bat wasn't a bat at all, but a broom. And they were having a lot of fun.
"Yes, they were hitting the ball with the sweeping end of the broom. Or at least they were trying to. I dunno if they had official bases/positions, but they seemed to be in the traditional diamond-shape with a pitcher. I assume they had teams, but I suppose that's quite an assumption. They were relatively close to each other... I assume it's not easy to hit the big ball very far with the broom."
Play on, o people of the broom, play on!
Thursday, April 14, 2005
Victor Turner on Liminality and Communitas
Found on a site called Creative Resistance
, here's an article that somewhat clarifies Victor Turner's dense, but profound concepts of Liminality and Communitas - both ideas being central to our understanding of The Well-Played Game
, and all that is inherent therein.
"A limen is...literally a 'threshold.' A pilgrimage centre, from the standpoint of the believing actor, also represents a threshold, a place and moment 'in and out of time,' and such an actor - as the evidence of many pilgrims of many religions attests - hopes to have there direct experience of the sacred, invisible or supernatural order, either in the material aspect of miraculous healing or in the immaterial aspect of inward transformation of spirit or personality.
"Turner discovered that a potent and distinctive form of social community which he called communitas emerges in the liminal stages of pilgrimages. Communitas means relationships among people, ?jointly undergoing ritual transition? through which they experience an intense sense of intimacy and equality, an 'I-Thou' awareness. 'Communitas is spontaneous, immediate, concrete... undifferentiated, egalitarian, direct, non-rational...' In the process of liminality, the pilgrims progressively achieve a release from conformity to general norms and may experience a profound and collective sentiment for humanity which includes or is stimulated by the quest and presence of a sacred space, god and spirit."
DeKoven, on the other hand, notes that similar experiences of communitas and liminality are often experienced by players of, for example, Rock-Scissors-Paper Tag and Junkyard Sports. At least as often, as a matter of contended fact, as at Mardi Gras and other ritual pilgrimages.
In his comment on my article "Boredom Kills
," embedded Player Chris Dickson notes that Turner is intelligently cited on pages 15-27 in the free-for-the-download, 12-megabyte book "Beyond Role and Play
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
I had several remarkable opportunities to work with some of the remarkable people studying with the USC School of Cinema-Television- Interactive Media
. Teaching them everything I knew about fun and games, from New Games to Junkyard Sports.
Of all the games I taught them, I think two stood out as being pivotal - as a learning experience and for the sheer fun of it all: the most junkly sport of Junkyard Golf
and the absurd, profound, and insignificantly competitive Rock-Scissors-Paper Tag
. Junkyard Golf because these are game designers, and design, really, is the center of the experience, collaborative design, in fact. Rock-Scissors-Paper Tag, or, as some would have it, Rock-Paper-Scissors Tag, is, from the design perspective, a most delightfully edifying model of a game that is both competitive and fun-centered, a game that can help build community, regardless of how "good" or "bad" people are at playing it.
For a similarly amusingly edifying experience, click on either link, or both.
Labels: games, Junkyard Sports
Monday, April 11, 2005
Sack Circles revisited
As you so vividly recall, my son's discovery of the Sack Circle
was a major leap forward for those in pursuit of the junklier joys of plastic-grocery-bag-play. Understanding this, you can perhaps more accurately imagine the profundity of pleasure I personally derived from the discovery of Julie Leung's meditation
on the further significance and implications of the Sack Circle.
She writes: "Gentle toys, they can be enjoyed indoors or outdoors. Tossed onto rings. Or spun like a Frisbee. Or thrown like a ball. Create a new game! Plus these Sack Circles, unlike balls or athletic equipment, are easy to transport. By bike. Or bracelet. Or a whole arm. A friend pointed out that Sack Circles are an efficient way to store plastic bags. Put them on a paper towel holder!"
There is a shiny surface of salubrious serendipity to be found in the Sack Circle, and I am believing that it has been barely scratched.
Friday, April 08, 2005
The Old Shell Game Renewed
Every now and then I come across a game so elegant, so simple, so well-designed and made, that I am reminded why I started this whole Major FUN Awards
program. Scoop's Surprises
is just that kind of game.
Though it will remind you of the "old shell game
," it reminds you just enough to make the game easier to learn. Once you start playing, however, you'll rapidly discover that, compared to Scoop's Surprises, the old shell game is mere child's play.
There are four wooden "ice cream cones." Each of these houses three pegs. There are four sets of three different color pegs - vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and mint. The person playing Scoop first moves the cones around, exactly as in the shell game of yore. Depending on the age of the players, Scoop uses three or four (or maybe only two) of the wooden cones, and makes maybe only three or four or maybe five or more switches. Then, and here's where the game gets truly boggling, then Scoop tells you which flavor you have to find.
Having to keep track of not just one, but as many as four different "flavors," the mind basically melts. It can be extremely challenging. Or, with some loving simplification, easy enough for a five-year-old.
Scoop's Surprises is surprisingly easy to learn and even more surprisingly fun to play - for the entire family. Did I tell you Scoop gets to wear a special ice cream hat? And how that hat adds just the right sprinkle of humor to a remarkably well-made, well-conceived, and enduringly entertaining game?
Labels: Major Fun
Thursday, April 07, 2005
Tensegrity: the toy, the meaning, the future
is a fascination toy - easy to build, fun to hold and behold. And, as our friend Dr. Timothy Wilken
is so clear about in his deep reflections
on the nature of the Tensegrity, much of our fascination with the Tensegrity has to do with the balance and mystery of a "pattern that results when push and pull have a win-win relationship with each other. The pull is continuous and the push is discontinuous. The continuous pull is balanced by the discontinuous push producing an integrity of tension-compression.
"Push and pull seem so common and ordinary in our experience of life that we...think little of these forces. Most of us assume they are simple opposites. In and out. Back and forth. Force directed in one direction or its opposite.
"(Buckminster) Fuller explained that these fundamental phenomena were not opposites, but compliments that could always be found together."
My son, the research scientist, recently directed me to a NASA site
describing a new kind of "shape-shifting" robot that their scientists are currently playing with. Take a look at this kind of beautiful - kind of creepy computer animation
to see how it might someday push and pull itself across the surface of, for example, Mars.
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
The Official Rules of Calvinball
We are fortunate indeed to have in our virtual playground someone like Sam Ryan who has the wisdom to go to the needed lengths to document the essence of the prototypical Junkyard Sport, Calvinball
I find myself with no option other than to quote:
"1. All players must wear a Calvinball mask (See Calvinball Equipment - 2.1). No one questions the masks (Figure 2.1).
"*IMPORTANT -- The following rules are subject to be changed, amended, or dismissed by any player(s) involved.
"1.2. Any player may declare a new rule at any point in the game (Figure 1.2). The player may do this audibly or silently depending on what zone (Refer to Rule 1.5) the player is in.
"1.3. A player may use the Calvinball (See Calvinball Equipment - 2.2)in any way the player see fits, from causal injury to self-reward.
"...1.9. Any rule above that is carried out during the course of the game may never be used again in the event that it causes the same result as a previous game. Calvinball games may never be played the same way twice..."
Thanks for this find go to Eric Zimmerman
, himself, and mine, too.
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
New Games in perspective
Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman (for more about Eric, see my gleeful account of his GameLab
) are co-authors of "Rules of Play" (see my all-too-brief
). Turns out you can actually download sample chapters of this most important book here
. Chapter 30, Games and Cultural Rhetoric
, includes this insightful account of New Games. I quote, at length:
"A wonderful example of transformative play as a game design practice is the New Games Movement, which utilized play to comment on and experiment with new conceptions of culture and community.
"An outgrowth of 1960s San Francisco counterculture, the New Games Movement believed that the kinds of games people play and the ways they play them are of major significance to society. 'Sports represent a key joint in any society,' George Leonard writes in The New Games Book, 'how we play the game may turn out to be more important than we imagine, for it signifies nothing less than our way of being in the world.'
"The New Games Movement was less about the design of individual games and more about the development of an ethos intended to alter the way people interacted with one another. Its goal was to transform culture by creating opportunities for people to play collaboratively. Play hard. Play fair. Nobody hurt. These three core principles order the design (and play) of any New Games game. The movement organized festival-like 'Tournaments' that brought people together to play cooperatively, erasing (if only for a brief time) barriers of race, age, sex, size, ability, socioeconomic background, and creed. Values of freedom and the creation of community through game play were woven into a utopian rhetoric that advocated new forms of player empowerment.
"As Bernard DeKoven notes in The Well-Played Game, 'No matter what game we create, no matter how well we are able to play it, it is our game, and we can change it when we need to.' This is an incredible freedom, a freedom that does more than any game can, a freedom with which we nurture the play community. The search for the well-played game is what holds the community together. But the freedom to change the game is what gives the community its power.'
"This powerful, poetic rhetoric conflates the act of changing an individual game with changing the larger 'game of society' a premise at the heart of the New Games Movement. Earthball, a classic New Games design, clearly embodies the movement's rhetoric. Created in 1966 by Stewart Brand for a public event sponsored by the War Resisters League at San Francisco State College, Earthball involved a huge inflatable ball painted with continents,oceans, and swirling clouds, guided by opposing teams. The game had a single rule, which Brand explained in the following way:
"'There are two kinds of people in the world: those who want to push the Earth over a row of flags at that end of the field, and those that want to push it over the fence at the other end. Go to it.'
"Intended as a way of formalizing player interaction and victory conditions, when the game was first played these simple rules created a space of possibility with a surprising ideological outcome: People charged the ball from both sides, pushing and cheering. Slowly it began to move, first toward one end, then back to the other. The game got hotter. There was plenty of competition, but something more interesting was happening. Whenever the ball approached a goal, players from the winning side would defect to lend a hand to the losers. That first Earthball game went on for an hour without a score. The players had been competing, but not to win. Their unspoken and accepted agreement had been to play, as long and hard as possible.
"Although the game was premised as a competition between two teams, the play that emerged was radically cooperative (in the sense of player cooperation defined in Games as Systems of Conflict). The emergence of collaborative play from a formal structure designed to support competitive interaction demonstrates the power of the New Games Movement rhetoric. The game may have looked competitive on the surface (two teams facing opposite goal lines), but the players enacted cultural rhetorics that valued collaboration and play-for-play's sake. These philosophies emerged from within the game to transform the game, turning traditional competitive play into something else entirely.
"Later New Games games explored game structures that more explicitly embodied the cultural rhetorics of the movement. For example,the game of Catch the Dragon's Tail (first mentioned in Games as Systems of Conflict), has a definite winning condition and goal, but certain players (in the dragon's middle) are not clearly on one team or the other.The New Game titled Vampire (analyzed in Games as the Play of Simulation, not to be confused with the LARP game Vampire: The Masquerade) also plays with competition, collaboration, and victory conditions. The game can end with the players either all turned into vampires or all cured of their vampirism; in both cases the initially heterogeneous group resolves to a state of homogeneous equality.
"Was the New Games Movement a success? Did it manage to transform society in the way that its founders intended? Yes and no. Although the New Games Movement has waned in recent decades, it asserted tremendous influence on physical education in the United States. If you played with a giant rubber Earthball or a parachute in your elementary school gym class, you can thank the New Games Movement,which helped transform the traditionally sports-based curriculum of phys ed into a more play-centric, cooperative learning experience. Much of the success of the New Games Movement emerged because of its relationships with other forms of counterculture. New Games 'Tournaments,' for example, mixed the communality of a peace protest with the cultural nihilism of an art happening.
"There is no doubt that in many ways the New Games Movement and its game designs emerged out of a particular cultural milieu. But the uniquely transformative agenda of the movement is truly inspiring. Playing with the codes and conventions of gaming and social interaction, the New Games Movement sought to create positive social change through play. It did so not by creating games with explicit political content, but by designing play experiences that intrinsically embodied its utopian ideals. Is there room for a similar movement in present-day game design? The New Games Movement was a function of its historical moment, and could not be revived in precisely the same form today. But the notion that game designers could take on transformative rhetorics, unleashing them in culture as a mighty revolution of play, is by no means unrealistic. It did happen; it can happen again."
Indeed it did. And can. And is. See, for example, this
Monday, April 04, 2005
My son, the research scientist, finds himself thinking alot about boredom nowadays. He traces his interest to an old slogan of mine, when I had The Games Preserve
. The slogan: Boredom Kills, Games Preserve You
- a slogan which became even more important to me when I discovered Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and his book Beyond Boredom and Anxiety
He found this in an article called "Why it is important to reform schools
"How might we describe the current (school) system? Cheap. Somewhat arbitrary. Not challenging. But the super-bogeyman who takes the blame, who makes educators tremble and students say 'eh, whatever,' is boredom. School is boring to those who are its most important members, the students.
"Boredom (bor'dem) n. the condition of being bored by something dull or uninteresting. Boredom is at once education's biggest problem, clearest symptom of illness, and the key to solving the puzzle. Boredom is the enemy of students and teachers alike. Boredom makes teachers cry, and students sleep. Boredom can make the best lesson plan look ugly. Boredom spreads like the plague. Boredom wants to get inside your head. Boredom hates puppies. Boredom kills brain cells. Boredom wants to sleep with your wife. Boredom causes terrorism. You get the point. Boredom is evil, and it haunts schools like an evil boring thingy, sparing no one in its path. If it wins, we all lose. Banish boredom, and our problems are solved."