The Spirit of the Game

Joey Gray, friend, and long-time champion and leader in the development of Ultimate, has some very instructional insights into the nature of "self-restraint in sport."

"In ultimate, she writes, "sustaining the game is more important than winning at all costs. Players agree to cooperate based on mutual understanding of rules. Anyone can win with ungracious calls - how good can that feel? So players learn negotiation skills that emphasize mutual respect. We want to have fun playing well, so we constantly seek that balance of ego and community called Spirit of the Game."

Joey goes on to quote some of the comments from applicants to the 1998 national team - the first year of the World Flying Disc Federation's mixed (coed) world ultimate championship.

"Once in awhile in an ultimate game you go to absolute war, with an individual, or maybe an entire team. It may be when you're the two hottest players on the field that day, or when your teams trade every point, or maybe when you're down by 8 and bring it back to within two. It's these times, when you and the person you're matched up against are caked with dirt and drenched in sweat, when you've already left it all on the field but still find some way to run hard, that you find out about the real players. It's when you inspire your opponent and they inspire you not just to keep going, but to raise your level of play. And in the midst of the war, knowing only one of you can win, you play against your opponent the way you wish they'd play against you: with everything you've got left, respecting their efforts and their calls, because you know that no matter how bad they want to win, they're going to do it fairly. And when it's all over, when no matter what the outcome, you shake hands, look your opponent in the eye with a stare of mutual respect and say 'nice D,' that's Spirit of the Game."


The Power of a Playful Spirit at Work

Take heart, ye workers of the world. Here is some exemplary playful pith from an article by Deanna H. Berg in which she writes about "The power of a playful spirit at work:
"When work isn't fun, people do the minimum they need to survive until they can leave work and have fun outside of work. Many companies now realize that playful creativity and meaningful work can combine to create organizations where people not only love to come to work, but also obtain superior results...

"The opportunity to play and have fun while we work can provide the safe environment needed to expand...self-imposed limits. A playful spirit (makes) it acceptable to experiment and not have to have all the answers.

"Play can also be a vehicle for self-discovery, making it possible for us to safely go beyond perceived boundaries to learn new ways of unleashing our skills.

"Taking time to play can also renew our energy for work... How many of us have been through job interviews where, after talking for an hour about our work qualifications, the interviewer then asked, "and what do you do for fun?" We can't separate play and work; if we're not having fun at work, we probably won't be having much at home either."

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FunCast: Samurai Thumbs

Today's FunCast is one more attempt to share The Way of Thumb and Thumb Helmet with the myraids.

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Thing-a-ma-BOTS reviewed by Tom Vasel

In a recent review of Thing-a-ma-BOTS, Tom Vasel concludes: "And thus lies my recommendation for Thing-a-ma Bots. It's creative, fun, and interesting - IF you either are playing with children or are a child. Adults should seek their 'filler' fun elsewhere, as this will seem boring and too childish for them. Kids, on the other hand, will have a blast playing the game, and wonder why adults don't have a good sense of humor."

I'm everso vastly delighted that the reviewer found my game to be appealing to children. This warms the very cockles of my conceptual heart. When my wife told me that some of the special education kids she works with really enjoyed playing Thing-a-ma-BOTS, I almost melted.

Finally, I've also learned from this review that the adults I hang out with, and design my games for, are far more childlike than Mr. Vasel and his playmates want to admit they are. Oh, all right, childish. These people will find Further Instructions and Suggestions" on my site, should they wish to learn how they can make the game even sillier.

Junkyard Golf Conference Kickstart Kit

Junkyard Golf Conference Kickstart KitI'm sure you remember my personal hoo haa over the Junkyard Golf Course and Community Building Event with Potluck (click link to download). I managed to get a very big vision for a wonderfully positive, fun-for-all event into a 10-page document. And I decided to give it away!

As you might have by now surmised, I've been experiencing a kind of leap, quantum-wise, with this whole junkyard thing. It started when I decided to think about using Junkyard Golf for a community celebration. Which is weird, because Junkyard Golf, the very first time I played it, was part of a community celebration, remember, for a preschool in Palo Alto called "Leaping Lizards."

So, to answer your question, what else I've been doing with Junkyard Golf is inventing the Junkyard Golf Conference Kickstart Kit. Which is a simulation game for the business community. For business to build community. For business to help people learn about how to build a better business community. Probably right after breakfast on the first day of a conference.

I made it a version of Junkyard Golf that you can play on tabletops, in a banquet room. Sure, you can play it on tabletops in the cafeteria or on a long table for a few small groups, even. And, yes, of course, you can even play it on the floor. But the point is, it can be played right where and when people most need this kind of experience, and most can use this kind of learning. Early on. Right after a meal.

Then I found a place that collected really "neat junk" - thick, colorful cardboard tubes, beautiful fabric and cardboard pieces, smooth chunks of wood, eye-blinding strips of Mylar. Who made it possible for me to make identical kits of really lovely junk - one kit for every table. Thus eliminating what seems to be the apparently overwhelmingly challenging requirement of people having to collect and pack their own junk.

And then, because it's designed to be played at conferences, at a dinner or breakfast or lunch or something, I decided to call it what I did. It's golf, but you don't even need a golf club. In fact, you can, with more control even than hitting a ball with a thing, slide or even flick. Kind of as in shuffleboard. And then I made changed a little about the game to make it at least as relevant and discussion-worthy as it was fun - relevant to learning about building the business community.

And now, can you believe it, you can order your very own Junkyard Golf Conference Kickstart Kit (from me, for the nonce). Soon, even, you'll be able to order it online. Now, you can even ask me to run the game with you. Soon, you'll have others to help you.

It's a business game, you know. A "simulation." It's fun you can take seriously.

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Foosball, Foosball, why, o, why do I love Foosball?

Two reasons:

1. I've been teaching some rather large groups about Junkyard Sports. "Human Foosball" has proven to be a fun, involving, elegant introduction to the spirit and practice of the aforementioned. The idea is that instead of having dolls on rods, you have lines of people facing this way and that. Sometimes, we kick the ball. Sometimes we volley it. Sometimes the ball is made out of a rolled-up sweatshirt. Every time, people seem to understand enough about foosball to create a genuinely fun, if junkish version, in minutes. Sometimes, we even use balloons

And, for another reason, it can get as challenging as it is silly, like this.


Make your business happy and rich

Alexander Kjerulf calls himself a "Chief Happiness Office" and is very interested in the possibility of there being such a thing as "Happiness at Work." In a recent post, he writes about how to: "Make your business happy and rich." Here are his observations:

"Happiness at work is a choice
You can't force or pressure people to be happy, no matter how genuine your concern for others. If you create a mood where it's right to be happy and wrong to unhappy or dissatisfied, people will rebel against that and actually become less happy.

Happiness at work is different for everyone
One man's happiness is another person's living hell. We're all different, and the same things will make some people happy, and others unhappy.

Happiness at work is long-term
It's never about blowing off what must be done, in order to have fun and be happy instead. It;s not just about being happy here and now - it's happiness for tomorrow and next year and 10 years from now."


FunCast: A, B, Twinkle, Have You Any Wool

The text for today's completely new and discretely personal FunCast can be found here. It is about three songs. One melody. And a game.

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Art Attacks and other Playful Happenings

Tom Condon, of the Hartford Courant, writes:
"...the really inspired anarchy of the time [1970s] came from...Sidewalk Inc. Founded by Tim Keating, Ann Kieffer and Bob Gregson, Sidewalk quickly became known for what Gregson called 'art attacks,' improvised outdoor performances of every kind.

"A van would pull up in front of a building and two dancers in evening clothes would jump out and begin a waltz or rumba. A dozen participants would do sidewalk sculptures with folding chairs. A skywriter would write something over downtown. A ballet dancer would leap out of a clump of bushes and perform. A bridge of balloons would appear over a downtown street. Artists performed skits in fountains. There was other wild stuff, such as Carl Andre's Stone Field Sculpture, aka the rocks. I love it/them."
Yes, it's the same Bob Gregson who did the illustrations for Junkyard Sports. The same Bob Gregson I met when I was teaching at Trinity College in Hartford. The same Gregson who is now the Creative Director of the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism. Yes, that Gregson. Bob Gregson of My friend and fellow play perpetrator for 30 actual years, who wrote me: "Today, I continue to raise havoc by sending people under tables and having them jump on trampolines as part of my work."

We have much to thank this man for. And much more to learn from him.

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"Play contains all developmental levels in a condensed form"

Roger Greenaway writes:

Every so often I come across something that I just have to send to you:

"Vygotsky believed that play contained all developmental levels in a condensed form."

which reminds me of your comment (in "The Junkyard Golf Course and Community Building Event") that ... Whatever makes it feel more "real," makes it feel more fun.

play - fun - reality - development - what a conconction! Maybe seriousness creates separation and fun and play brings it all back together again. What is more real? separateness or togetherness? What is more fun? separateness or togetherness? What is more developmental? separateness or togetherness? Where is more energy?

This was the source:

Psychology of play
Lesser known, but a direct correlate to the ZPD and of utmost importance to Vygotsky, was his concept of play. Play was a moment where social rules were put into practice - a horse would behave as horse even though it was a stick. These types of rules always guided a child's play. Vygotsky even once described two sisters at dinner "playing" at being sisters at dinner. Vygotsky believed that play contained all developmental levels in a condensed form. Therefore, to Vygotsky, play was akin to imagination where a child extends her/himself to the next level of her/his normal behavior, thereby creating a zone of proximal development for her/himself. In essence, Vygotsky believed "play is the source of development." Psychology of play was later developed by Vygotsky's student Daniil El'konin.

lifelong learning <=> perennial playing



You know that toy that you thought came from China or maybe
Mexican Indians or some place, or France, even ( see Bilboquet)? Remember how you tried to get the ball thing to stay on the end of the stick? And how, after you finally showed everyone how good you were at it, how you thought, well, this is pretty much it?

Click on over to the
Balero Players' Association - International and on the link that takes you to Todos Los Trucos, and watch a few of those Trucos videos, and quake with amazement and what awaits.

The site, by the way, is the legacy of William Tulinsky, (Wild Bill), "Balero enthusiast and record holder." It is a gift to the world of fun, and I hope that someone soon will help it continue giving.


Street Party - Meet your Neighbours in your Traffic-free Street

Pat Kane, in a recent Play Journal post, writes about a new wave of weekend playfests taking place throughout London, in at least partial response to the subway bombings and the consequent public insecurity. His comment:

"Is it a domestication of the kinds of activist carnival that typified the anti-globalisation protests of the late nineties and early oughties? Yes, undoubtedly. But what should the system's response to emergent, street-level protest be? Panoptical security is surely one way to spend the tax dollars. Trying to build up the sense of civic attachment to the fabric of a city through gratuitous, open public events, with a combination of spectacle and participation, is another."

Yeah, Pat, you got it again. It's about reaching a time when playing in public becomes a political act.

One of the groups he mentions has a remarkably elegant message. They conduct Street Parties. Their slogan: "Meet your Neighbours in your Traffic-free Street."

O, and if you want to hold your own all-American street party, might I humbly suggest the Junkyard Sports Mini-Golf Course-and-Community Building Festival with Potluck? Well, might I?

FunCast: The Lexifunnicon

Today's FunCast features ten new words for fun, from almost 200 currently catalogued in the Lexifunnicon.


Fork Art

Think of it as Fork Art. It's logical, actually, that you might think of it in those terms, since the name of the site is, the products are very much like works of art, folk art, perhaps, but fork art, definitely, because the material that is used in creating these works of forky art is actually, as one might suspect, forks, metal forks. Take a look, for another example, at this fork dragon, for example, or fork helicopter, for another, or even the fork dentist.

So, ye Protectors of the Planet, yes, all of ye, ye Recyclers of Hope, next time you think about bringing public notice to our endless capacity to produce junk, think also about celebrating our equally endless abilities to turn junk into art.


A Little Playfulness Turns the Tide

I first came across a book called "Playful Parenting," almost 4 years ago. I even blogged it enthusiastically.

In today's post, I blog it again. Not because I've actually read it, but because I found this wonderful excerpt on the web:
"Parenting and playfulness can seem like contradictions, but sometimes we just need a little push to find each other and have fun together. I was at an outdoor concert, dancing off on the side with my nine-year-old daughter, when a mother and son came over to the dance area. She started dancing a little, but he just stood with his arms folded, a little too shy to dance now that he was there. He was about six or seven. His mother said, starting to get angry, 'You dragged me up here and now you're not going to dance?!' He folded his arms tighter and literally dug his heels in. I thought, we can all see where this is going. I said, 'Oh no, he's doing a new dance,' and I folded my arms just like his and gave him a big smile. He smiled back and moved his hands to a different position, which I copied. His mom caught on right away and started copying him too. We all laughed. He started moving his shoulders up and down to the music and his mother said, 'You're dancing!' Then he started to dance and he had a great time. We all did (including my daughter, who waited patiently while I did 'the playful parenting thing,' and then wanted my complete attention again). A little playfulness turned the tide."
"A little playfulness turned the tide." Beautiful.


monochrom's massive Multiplayer Thumb-Wrestling

Surfed my way over to monochrom's massive Multiplayer Thumb-Wrestling and actually almost felt that perhaps my job here is done.

You know, of course, about Samurai Thumbs, and in similar of courseness, about my passion for Pointless Games. Now meet monochrom. In their own words: "monochrom is an art-technology-philosophy group of basket weaving enthusiasts and theory do-it-yourselfers having its seat in Vienna and Zeta Draconis. monochrom is the super-affirmation of the globalization trap. monochrom has existed in this (and every other) form since 1993." Who, apparently have also managed to contact the Playful Presence, creating a new form of multiplayer thumb wrestling that can engage a minor multitude in the significantly silly. Joining in a thumb wrestle with other people who are also joined in a thumb wrestle, it becomes possible to create patterns of thumb wrestling multitudes, ranging from the "Snowflake" and "Token Ring" to the three-player "Death Star Nuclear Reactor" and the "Down Under" where "A chain formed by sticking the hands between the legs. Please take care not to fall over and hurt your heads!"

Now, if we could only get them to put little foil helmets on their thumbs....


Wits & Wagers

Wits & Wagers combines trivia with betting to create a unique party game - one that can involve anywhere from 3 to 21 players in an evening or half-hour worth of relatively painless trivia questions and sometimes near-painful strategizing.

The trivia questions are all answered with numbers. e.g.: "How many times to the Beatles sing the word 'Yeah' in the song She Loves You?" and "According to July 2004 estimates, how many people live in the U.S.?" Players record their answers on write-on, wipe-off cards, with write-on, wipe-off markers (supplied). What makes this all somewhat kinder and gentler is that the likelihood of anyone knowing the actual answer is very low. So, it's more like a guessing game - anything from educated to wild will do. Which makes the whole game far more inviting and replete with jollitude than most exercises in trivia.

Then there's the betting. Answers are arranged numerically on the heavy duty vinyl betting mat (probably one of the thickest and most durable ever put into a game). The median answer has the lowest pay off because it is the most likely answer to be correct. Higher and lower answers have increasingly higher pay offs since they are riskier bets. Players bet their chips on which guess is the closest, without going over (what one might be tempted to call the "Price is Right" rule). Since you don't have to bet on your own guess, the betting round is like an exercise in second guessing, only with more information. Like what each player is willing to bet on which answer - especially since you can bet on two different answers. As your opinion tends to undergo massive changes once you see what all of your friends think, winning Wits & Wagers becomes less a demonstration of what you know than of how well you know the people you're playing with!

Designed by Dominic Crapuchettes, Wits & Wagers is a rare accomplishment - combining two ordinarily very different game concepts into something unique and uniquely playworthy.

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FunCast: Why we age

In today's FunCast, the Oaqui explain/s why there is such a thing as aging and why we do it.


Naked Hand Puppets, Rip Slyme, and Music Videos

Rip Slyme, a Japanese Rap group, has produced a video that combines finger puppets and what you might call "naked hand puppets" with live action video. The result is pretty much pure fun.

Seeing live action faces on finger puppets is definitely strange, bordering on silly. The naked hand puppets (NHPs) add a sense of both familiarity and playfulness, and reach new heights of NHP magnificence towards the end of the video when they create a puppet using five hands.

And I thought my 2-person cross-frogging was the ultimate achievement in NHPuppetry.

via TV in Japan

Bill Harris on Work, Fun and Freedom

I received the following email from fellow facilitator and brother-in-fun Bill Harris, in response to my posting on "Of Fun and Work:"
I think many people likely don't think work can be fun. Some of those might benefit from seeing Richard Feynman's video interview and the way a focus on fun helped him do great work (beginning with the segment on his turning down an opportunity to join Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study, at 20:14).

Others might benefit from changing jobs -- or at least changing their attitude towards their current job. (I think I've seen people who think that work shouldn't be fun; you weren't being earnest if you were having fun.)

One of the big deals for me, though, is freedom. If you "make" me do something I don't want to do, you run a risk of me reacting inappropriately, and that could include suing later (see this). You also might find that I discover the thing you're suggesting really is fun, but that's a gamble. For example, I think I'd find a ropes course very un-fun, and I've been at a fun evening event with a comedian in a workplace that turned out to be painful more than funny. On the other hand, I recall Halloween costumes at work, juggling fruit at work or watching people bowl with oranges down the hall -- and the pleasure / fun from seeing a group make great progress or finally catching on to the answer to a tough problem.

The challenge is that people in many (most?) organizations don't feel able to speak up clearly, openly, and honestly, so it's hard to tell whether you're forcing someone to do something, I guess. That's one of the things I focus on, but it's not always easy; in fact, it can demand quite a bit of courage and personal insight on people's parts, even if management says they favor
Yeah. So somehow, the fun of work, the inherent fun, has to do with the experience of freedom. Oh, yeah and again yeah!

So here's my take on the fun-freedom connection.


Very, Very Big Bubbles

We took this picture during our last Tasting. David and company are on our front lawn, learning to use "beebo Big Bubble Mix" to create what can only be called an XTREME bubble. "Our mission," say the XTREME Bubble Team "is to manufacture and distribute to all people, the most exciting, amazing and revolutionary bubble solution in the history of the world! We believe that if every person in the world had a chance to play with beeboo Big Bubble Mix, the world would become a better place." Yes, beebo Big Bubble Mix, the same beeboo Big Bubble Mix used to blow the " the World's Largest Free Floating Soap Bubble."

There was no question at all about the Major FUNness of the XTREME bubble-making experience. I personally have never seen bubbles so large, so ameoba-like in their blobitude, so surprising in their floaty formations. Not having made an exhaustive comparison, I can not attest to the fact that beebo Big Bubble Mix results in the biggest of all possible bubbles. It worked. It was easy to mix, easy to make work. Learning to use the bubble wand was most definitely an integral part of the whole experience. As a connoisseur of all things fun, I can tell you that this stuff is great fun. And I mean great!

At a purported savings of $6, you're probably going to want to purchase the entire 1 Bottle of beeboo™ Mix & 1 Bubble Wand starter kit. Then, you'll probably have to get the 2 bottles of beeboo™ Big Bubble Mix, unless you find yourself ready for the 4 bottles of beeboo™ Big Bubble Mix

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Capture the Flag - city rules

Capture the Flag, Game One, Kensington Market, July 26, 2005, Toronto, Canada. Game one of three, so far as I can tell from the newmindspace site. A site, if I may say so, worth seeing. A generous site, describing not only how to play Capture the Flag in the middle of a city, but also how to have a subway party, for example, or, yes, a giant pillow fight, and even a city-wide Easter Egg fortune cookie poetry event.

But I like Capture the Flag the best. Because, I guess, I like the game, the poetry of it, the metaphor - the whole "jail" thing, with the guarding and desperation and heroism and laughter. And I especially appreciate how they adapted the rules, how they've incorporated not only the city into their vision, but also the "affordances" of city life - maps, cellphones, access to public and private transportation. And I like even more than that thinking about all sheer, silly drama of it all unfolding against a cityscape, waking everyone in a half-mile radius, hobo and executive, shopper and tourist, to the possibility of fun.

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