Deeply Played Games

Today's Funcast is about the idea of Deeply Played Games. Here's a taste:

"...there’s chess, on the one culture, and the Japanese game Go on the other – a game of piece-capture vs a game of territory-capture, hierarchy vs. the horde, army vs. terrorist. While chess is the game of kingdoms and military might, the game of Go, according to the author of The Protracted Game, is a remarkably useful paradigm for understanding Maoist Revolutionary Strategy. For example.

"Deeply played games are a kind of cultural theater with massive audience participation, capable of expressing as well as developing identity, communicating as well as transforming the acknowledged values of a culture."

You can read more about Deeply Played Games and all that is implied thereby in the keynote address for the North American Simulation and Games Association I'll be giving October 12.

Play on!

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Junkyard PE?

Using Scoops and Cups in Physical Education is but one of a generous collection of Huey Pearson's Ideas for Elementary Physical Education and Wellness. The one in the picture is Huey's "Side by Side Milk Jug," or, as I like to refer to it, Two Sawed-Off Milk Jugs Glued Together

Huey suggests that you "try these challenges":

1. Toss a ball from one side to the other.
2. Try the challenge with your non-dominant hand.
3. Bounce the ball and catch it with the right side.
4. Bounce the ball and catch it with the left side.
5. Try it with a partner.
6. Toss a ball to a wall and catch with the right scoop.
7. Toss a ball to a wall and catch with the left scoop.

And then try any of the hundreds of Huey's clearly fun, delightfully junk-based. and signifcantly physical gifts to the general wellness.

Huey Pearson. Defender of the Playful.

More than fun?

The first line on this webpage about Avant Gaming reads: "Well, nobody ever said that games had to be fun."

It goes on: "Avant Gaming...seeks to identify and catalog games, and related resources, that challenge and subvert mainstream gaming conventions. It is our hope that through these actions we will be able to call attention to this movement as a whole and further motivate the alternative gaming community."

That's right. Another game "movement." The last, apparently, in the three that seemed to occupy us this week. And this one isn't about fun, but about games as vehicles for learning, for change, for everything else, also.

Avant Gaming is not the first initiative to explore games that are designed for something more than fun. Take a look at the list of games considered Avant enough, and compare that with the list of Team Building Activities, Initiative Games & Problem Solving Exercises, or perhaps some of Thiagi's collection of Training Games. Avant Gaming is part of a long tradition of educators and visionaries who who have devoted themselves to the transformative power of play, to games as tools for change. But Avant Gaming is newer, and, consequently, more centered in technology, and, therefore, perhaps has a slightly better chance to catch the attention of modern educators and social entrepreneurs. As long as they don't lose sight of the fact that no matter how successful their games are in "subverting mainstream gaming conventions," a game is a game is a game. It can be educational. It can be life changing. But if it's not fun, forget it.

Karaoke Ice

Karaoke Ice is a game/art project, produced by the
San Jose State Cadre Laboratory for New Media. What is Karaoke Ice? "Imagine an ice cream truck transformed into a mobile karaoke unit, driven by a squirrel cub with a penchant for cheap magic, deployed to spark spontaneous interaction between passersby in Chavez Plaza and surrounding neighborhoods.

"The truck, or Lucci as she is known, is a tasty pop culture hybrid, one that brings three familiar expressions of "network culture" — ice cream trucks, datasets, and karaoke bars — into conversation. Dressed in song and shimmer, Lucci broadcasts twinkly pop songs in endless, repetitive loops as she weaves her way through the zone of the festival. At nighttime, once her work for the day is done, it’s time to let loose. She finds a party to join, dispatches the squirrel to hustle some more karaoke, and enjoys the festival entertainment."

Karaoke Ice provides precisely the kind of play experience that I believe represents the best and least of what this "New Media" movement - yes, it's another movement all right - has to bring into the world. Best, because it funny and empowering, because, as easily as it crosses technology and art, it crosses culture and neighborhood. Least, because I want to believe that there will be more, and better, and bigger.

Thanks, Fun Scout Noise for the, um, fun-scouting.


Welcome to Play Art

Play Art is the brain child of artist Ernst Lurker. It is a term he coined, not only to describe his own playful work (reminiscent to me of the art / puzzles of Piet Hein), but to describe what he considers an art movement. He explains:
"Play Art is a new art form that calls for active participation of the viewer. Only through interaction does Play Art disclose its secrets and inherent principles. It is the intention of Play Artists that their work be touched, influenced, and experienced; these are works that demand to be manipulated, rearranged, or set into motion.

"Some Play Artists focus on shapes and structures, others rely on scientific techniques like mechanical principles, physics or digital technology. Whatever the elements, Play Art aims to stimulate curiosity and creativity. Play Art captures the viewer's imagination and gives rise to the joy of discovery by encouraging hands-on experimentation."
Long may the Play Art movement, uh, move!

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FunCast - What is Golf

Today's FunCast asks the question: "What is Golf?"

"For what," it and I begin, "is golf? A game, some say. A game played on a golf course, using golf clubs to hit golf balls into a golf hole. A game? A course, a club, a ball, a hole? Is that really all?

As you would expect, it's not.

It is, however, a valuable source of silliness and a genuine invitation to invention for the fortunate few who get to organize a Junkyard Sports® Golf Event

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Legos at work

Funscout Eric Jacobs writes about connections between the qualities of Lego-play and worklife:
Most of my Lego playing recently has been with the small pile of pieces I have at work. I think my collection at home has gotten too big and unwieldy, but I'm working on setting up a dedicated storage/play area to take care of that. I really want to be able to build some larger, more involved models like I used to. So back to the office: I encourage everyone in the office to play with the Lego, take a handful back to their desk, whatever they want.

I'm a programmer at a software company, and the other programmers especially like the Lego, though almost everyone plays with it sometimes. I've always thought programming is a mix of art and engineering, which I think is why the Lego is so appealing- an open-ended building toy, that exercises a combination of art/creativity and engineering/building. A lot of people (including me) like to just have something to fiddle with to keep their hands busy while they're thinking. So during impromptu meetings and design discussions, people grab a handful of bricks and doodle with them. Sometimes people actually take play-breaks, come sit down for a few minutes and dedicate their full attention to building something.

Something interesting that my team-mates and I noticed is that the quantity and complexity of Lego models being built is inversely proportional to how much fun we're having actually working. The last project we were working on was pretty rough, which resulted in a lot of play-breaks to unwind. (By the end of the project, we ended up with a lot of models of classic video-game characters. For some reason I love the idea of using one toy to build another toy.) The current project is actually fun, and the Lego models have dropped off dramatically.

Something else interesting that I think I've noticed: The last company I was at wasn't a particularly good place to work. People would stop by and build pretty dark stuff. There were a couple minifigs of Santa Claus in there, and by far the most popular theme was dioramas of Santa being killed in creative ways. James Bond type lasers ("No Mr Claus, I expect you to die!"), wood-chippers, industrial accidents, you name it.

Granted, a lot of people like the irony of building dark models from Lego, but nowhere near as much dark stuff like that gets built at the current company. We've got cars, airplanes, pimped-out lawnmowers, video-game characters. (Not too far from what your average kid would build.)

A couple of us have actually used the Lego as a tool too. We were working on labor-scheduling software, and found the blocks were great for working out algorithms by hand. (Ok, the red bricks are 15-minute blocks of time that we need a cashier. And the blue is stockroom. So the leveling algorithm needs to move the blue from here to here...)

One last thing I think you'll like: Many, perhaps most, adult Lego fans go through a period, usually the teenage years, where they decide they're too old to play with Lego. I don't know who coined the term, but we call that 'the dark ages.'

from Bernie DeKoven's FunLog

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BARTOK (a.k.a. Bartog and Warthog) - Crazier Eights

Jeffrey, son of Joyce and Doc Searls, told me about a game that he has been playing called "BARTOK." Doc explained that it was one of those games where the players get to make their own rules. This, of course, both aroused and piqued my curiosity.

Turns out that Bartok, or Warthog or sometimes also Bartog, is a variation of Crazy Eights, that most elementary and yet imminently complexifiable of card games into which I have gone to significant depths since my employment at Mattel, manufacturers of the Crazy-Eight-like UNO. See, for example, "Not So Crazy Eights."

It further turns out that Lisa Dusseault, who seems to know Jed Hartman, friend of my sacred son's, and author of Plenty Questions, has compiled a list of what she calls "Self-Modifying Games," the first game in that list being none other than the aforementioned Bartok, etc.

Ms. Dusseault goes to significant lengths to describe some of the many rules that can be played with. One of my favorite is her collection of:
Cool Rules

- SLO-MO CARD -- Pick a kind of card that has to be played in slow motion.
- Word Association -- Whenever a certain kind of card is played, the player must give a new word from a list of possible words. Example lists: countries, words that begin with Q, etc.
- Card swap -- A king is actually a queen, or the five of diamonds is actually the seven of spades, or swap all hearts with clubs. This can get confusing, with players either mixing up which card they are allowed to play or referring to cards in an illegal manner. ("Okay, I play the 5 of diamonds." "Penalty. That is the seven of spades. Penalty. Illegal play.")
- Virtual Play -- Some event may cause players to virtually swap positions. That is, they do not physically change seats, but they must play as if they have changed seats. This causes great confusion when direction of play seems to jump all around the table. Variation: a player virtually moves between two other players and must play between them. Thanks to Andrew Mitchell, Australia.
Consider this a foretaste, a waft, a hint of the many and curious Bartokian joys soon to be available at a card table near you.


Serious Leisure

I started today looking about for things to take seriously. Just as I was about to give in to it all, I found this article about Serious leisure. I know. I know. It doesn't sound serious enough. Nothing can, really. But wait. Let me quote:

Serious Leisure " the systematic pursuit of an amateur, hobbyist, or volunteer core activity that is highly substantial, interesting, and fulfilling and where, in the typical case, participants find a career in acquiring and expressing a combination of its special skills, knowledge, and experience (Stebbins, 1992, p.3). The adjective 'serious' (a word Stebbins's research respondents often used) embodies such qualities as earnestness, sincerity, importance, and carefulness. This adjective, basically a folk term, signals the importance of these three types of activity (serious, casual and project-based) serious leisure in the everyday lives of participants, in that pursuing the three eventually engenders deep self-fulfillment."

It's hard to think of all those people who have dedicated so much of themselves to the memory of 9/11 as engaging in anything as trivial as leisure. But it's serious leisure. It's something they choose, out of their own free will and time, not for money or glory, but because they find it rewarding. Rewarding as in the kind of rewards you get from doing things you believe in, from doing things you think are "right."

Casual leisure?

"Casual leisure is immediately intrinsically rewarding, relatively short-lived pleasurable activity requiring little or no special training to enjoy it. It is fundamentally hedonic, engaged in for the significant level of pure enjoyment, or pleasure, found there...Serious leisure is further distinguished from casual leisure by six characteristics found exclusively or in highly elaborated form only in the first. These characteristics are 1) need to persevere at the activity, 2) availability of a leisure career, 3) need to put in effort to gain skill and knowledge, 4) realization of various special benefits, 5) unique ethos and social world, and 6) an attractive personal and social identity."

It seems to me that in a slightly better and more uniformly affluent world, these distinctions would not be that easy to draw. The Casual Leisure of the immediately rewarding would be just about the same as "playing." "Project-based leisure," the "short-term, moderately complicated, either one-shot or occasional, though infrequent, creative undertaking carried out in free time," would be known as "learning." And the serious leisure of doing what you want most to do - "living."

Thanks for this leisurely find go to Funscout Joey Grey


The Lazy Way to Success

I found this quote on a blog called "The Lazy Way to Success:"
"I did not do it with hard work. I did not do it by busting my butt. I did it by having fun – so much fun that people were attracted to that fun. I then picked the most competent attractees to be on my team and off we went. Whatever “hard work” there might have been, I had long since turned into a game and we had fun “playing” it.

"We had fun and by having fun we discovered stuff which led to more fun which led to more discoveries which led to more fun and so on. In my opinion, when the fun stops, that is an indication that the end is near. Preserving the fun, nurturing the fun, and stoking the fun are the keys to a thriving organization."
The quote is from a fellow named "Fred Gratzon," coincidentally the author of The Lazy Way to Success. Serendepitously, Fred has had some mighty relevant business experience to back up his insights:
"In 1979 with no money, no experience, and no knowledge of how to make ice cream, he founded The Great Midwestern Ice Cream Company. In 1984 his ice cream was judged by People magazine to be the best ice cream in America. Playboy made the same declaration in 1986.

"In 1989, again with no money and no knowledge or experience of telecommunications Fred founded Telegroup in a spare room in his house. Telegroup became an international long distance carrier and grew to 1100 employees with $400 million in annual sales."
One cannot help but be impressed by the man and the message. One cannot help but feel vindicated, encouraged, freed, even, by his clearly well-founded faith in fun. Especially if one, oneself, leads a workshop called "Leading with Fun."


Do Animals Have Fun? Are you kidding?

Because of the email conversation that led to yesterday's post, we have been given permission to publish the following excerpt from Chapter 4 of Pleasurable Kingdom by Dr. Jonathan Balcombe, himself, as today's post.

We do the Dance of Glee. Here, for you, special, the answer to the question - "Do animals have fun:"
Though play is undeniably adaptive, it is pleasure, curiosity, and joy that provide the motivation for play in animals and humans alike. Play is a good indicator of well-being. It occurs when other needs, such as food, shelter and safety, are sufficiently met, and when unpleasant feelings like fear, anxiety and pain are minimal or absent. Otherwise the animal’s efforts would be directed at meeting these needs or relieving these feelings, at the expense of play. Play serves many functions that may help an animal to survive and succeed in life. These include: developing physical strength, gaining skills, acquiring knowledge, learning the ropes of social behavior, and exploring.

This is probably why it evolved. But when a pair of mountain goat kids chase each other, jumping, twisting and kicking, they are hardly training for becoming good grown-ups. Animals play for fun, not for keeps.

There are at least four good reasons to believe that animals are having fun when they play. First, they look like they’re having fun. Cats chasing pulled string, young squirrels romping, or otters sliding down snowbanks look like they are heartily enjoying themselves. I remember watching three little eastern gray squirrels romping and wrestling around the base of a palm tree in Orlando, Florida. They leapt on and off the bole in pursuit of each other, and at times fused into a single squirrel ball as if they were one.

Second, humans enjoy playing, and much of our play resembles that of other animals. There is an element of funktionslust in the playing of sports.We usually put our all into it and strive to do our best. We tend to favor games we are good at, and performing well is one of the rewards. Animals may get similar pleasure from their play because it invariably involves doing and refining things they are good at. The play of young predators commonly involves chasing and catching things, such as an adult’s tail or flying insects, and wrestling with each other. The play of herbivores, such as young goats, entails leaping, running and zigzagging, skills useful for negotiating difficult terrain and evading predators.

Third, animals want to play. In the laboratory, young chimps and other species will play rather than eat unless they are very hungry. Some animals will work for the chance to play. Junior, acaptive orangutan at the Saint Louis Zoo, would clean up his cage in return for the opportunity to play with his whistle. The urge to play can be irresistible.

Fourth, there are chemical changes in the brains of playing animals that suggest they enjoy it. Rats show an increase in dopamine production in their brains when anticipating opportunities to play. Jaak Panksepp reports a close association between opiates and play, and that rats enjoy being playfully tickled (see Chapter 7).

Because play often mirrors serious, dangerous interactions such as fighting, attacking prey or escaping predators, it is important that individuals recognize the playful intentions of others. Most animals have body language to signal their desire to play. Dogs use a ‘play-bow,’ in which the soliciting animal faces her playmate with forelegs flat on the ground and hindquarters raised up, tail usually wagging. The facial expression is relaxed and ‘smiling.’ Tail wagging in dogs is without doubt a means of communication. Dogs wag their tails when receiving food in the presence of humans, but not when they are videotaped by a hidden camera.

And for you special, go here and download all of Chapter One of the abovequoted.


Animals Just Want to Have Fun

I recently found my way to an article called "Animals Just Want to Have Fun," describing a book called Pleasurable Kingdom by Dr. Jonathan Balcombe. Because his book is not online, I asked him if he could help summarize some of his findings. He responded most generously, as follows:

* Pleasure evolved to reward adaptive behaviours, as pain punishes maladaptive ones.
* Until recently, animals were widely denied thoughts and feelings, let alone pleasure.
* Pleasure is a broad landscape, including: anticipation, excitement, tenderness, exhilaration, comfort, serenity, satisfaction, joy, pride, relief, happiness, and ecstasy.
* There are some twenty academic journals on pain, but none on pleasure.

* Many mammals and birds play; there is also evidence in reptiles, fishes, and octopuses.
* When rats play, their brains release large amounts of the pleasure-compound dopamine.
* Wallabies calibrate the boisterousness of their play to the age of their playing partner.
* Ravens are noted players. Two ravens played 'rodeo' on two wind-whipped power lines, taking turns trying to grasp the second wire in the bill and hang on as long as possible.

* Rat gourmands will venture from a warm nook stocked with processed rat pellets into a deathly cold room to retrieve gourmet tidbits; lizards do the same thing. It's the animal equivalent of shunning the fruit bowl and dashing out for some doughnuts on a rainy night.
* When monkeys found lettuce hidden where they were expecting to find a banana, they behaved just as we would when pleasurable expectations are thwarted: searching the vicinity with an expression of surprise and consternation and occasionally screaming at the human observer.
* Sheep prefer a photo of the face of a just-fed sheep to that of a hungry one, and a smiling human face to an angry-looking one.

* Widespread non-procreative sexual behaviour in animals includes: copulating outside the breeding season, homosexual couplings, masturbation, and oral stimulation.
* Monkeys exhibit orgasmic responses, including rhythmic vaginal contractions, increased breathing and heart rate, clitoral engorgement, and vaginal expansion.
* The male red-billed buffalo weaver sports a penis-like appendage, which he massages against a female during 15-mins of animated foreplay leading to apparent orgasm.

* In African springs, hippos spread their legs and toes to allow fishes to nibble, much like pampered clients going for a massage or manicure at a spa.
* Rats accustomed to being tickled ran to the investigator's hand four times as quickly, and made seven times more ultrasonic chirps, than did rats trained to be petted.
* Reef fish line up to receive the attentions of cleaner fish, who advertise their services.
* When researchers experimentally brushed horses' necks, the animals' heart rates dropped, particularly in preferred spots for being groomed by other horses.

* Love is adaptive for species for which close social bonds aid survival and successful procreation, such as primates, dolphins, parrots, and geese. The same applies for species with prolonged offspring dependence, as in many mammal species.

Mischief and Humour
* Dusky dolphins sneak up on gulls resting on the water; they gently grab and briefly dunk the bird before letting go; the bird flutters, kicks, preens frenziedly, then flies off.
* When repeatedly asked to identify the color of a white towel held up by a teacher, Koko the gorilla signed "red." Then, grinning, she plucked off a bit of red lint clinging to the towel, held it up to the trainer's face and signed "red" again.

* Attractive flowers and succulent fruits graced the earth long before humans.
* Birds have musical minds; trained finches can assign newly heard pieces to familiar composers, and pigeons can generalize Baroque from modern genres.

* When first let out into the fields following a long winter confinement, cattle will tear about a field, kicking their legs in the air like excited toddlers let into a playground.


* Pleasure rewards homeostasis. Cold water feels pleasant if we're hot, but not if we're cold. Preference studies reveal the same phenomenon (alliesthesia) in other animals.
* A group of African wild dogs lay in a heap as a cold wind blew across the plains; intermittently, dogs on the windward side would move to a leeward spot, and over several hours, the huddle had 'migrated' to a completely new location.
* Bathing birds are known to lift a wing at the spray of garden sprinklers on hot days.


* Calvin Klein's fragrance Obsession for Men is strongly seductive to female cheetahs.
* Lemurs and capuchins pass around large millipedes like a marijuana joint, rubbing and mouthing them. Powerful defensive chemicals send them into a blissful stupor.

Implications of animal pleasure

* When we acknowledge animals as feeling individuals, species-centric views are inadequate; like us, other animals experience a quality of life.
* Pleasure enhances sentience, which is the basis for moral consideration.
* We may have no moral obligation to provide pleasure to others, but depriving them of opportunities to seek their own pleasures-as we do when we cage, confine, and kill-is a serious moral issue.
* Like us, animals are not just pain-avoiders, but pleasure-seekers; the world is richer for it.

A Basket Full of Squishies

You remember me writing you about Office Playground? It was in that article on Toy Therapy for Business Meetings, in case you forgot.

I went to them for an update on their current meeting-appropriate toy offerings, and wound up with what I'd like to think of as "a basket full of squishies." Like to think, because I only got four, and the basket's too big, anyhow. Anyhow, as I was saying, think of these as a representative four, a mere sample of the varieties of "squish" (or whatever you call that really stretchable, baby-poweder-covered stuff they're made of and their meanings.

Let us begin therefore with the Spaghetti Ball, because it was my favorite and took me most by surprise. It's a bunch of squishy strings attached in the middle, is what it is. Long squishy strings, attached in the middle, and when you throw it, darn if it doesn't kind of ball up, and when you spin it darn if it doesn't flatten out, and darn if it doesn't hang by any one of it's strings and darn if you can't spin the whole thing pretty darn fast, if you want, in a pre-launching manner.

This pre-launching spinning of a mass of connected squishy strings activity is remarkably similar to that performed by the user of that which is commonly refered to as the Stretchin' Squid Yo Yo.

My wife, when she first saw the Stretchin' Squid Yo Yo - with its convenient finger-ring-ended highly stretchable, well, tentacle, with which, should you so desire, you can perform yo-yo-like activities - proceded to demonstrate the verisimilitude, showing me how she could Rock the Cradle, Shoot the Moon, Walk the Dog, and make me writhe with laughter.

Then there's this squishy frisbee-thing, the Stretch Flyer, which does in deed flatten and fly frisbee-like into the beyond, and also fits over your head. Thus, should a great deal of shared spunkiness be manifest, it can easily serve as an invitation to a game of frisbee catch, or golf, or basketball, or dodgeball, for that matter - a dodgeball that doesn't hurt. Or, as previously noted, you can put it over your head, which, at times, is exactly what you need to be able to do.

Finally, we have Stretchy String, also made of the basic squishy material, but thicker, and hence, stretchier, and further hence, can be snapped at things and people as well as whirled menacingly and at extensive distance. Of course, it doesn't really hurt when it hits you, but it sure looks like it will. As it does when someone snaps it at you.

Note, if you will, how each of these lends itself to a range of play, from sensual and contemplative, to downright hostile and aggressive. Note, further, how, though each is in deed a tension reliever, some seem to lend themselves more to relieving social tension than personal.

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Ian Coe's Fun Quest

It will take a while to download. But it's worth waiting for. Especially if you're interested in fun, and in following this young man, Ian Coe, a Master's student in Radio Production at Bournemouth University, as he learns from anyone who claims any expertise in any connection with fun - a positive psychologist, a psycho-physiologist, a clairvoyant, a pianist, a social theoretician, a leisure historian, the manager of a student union, even me. And in between, as he documents his theoretical journey, he records his actual one - biking, running, playing soccer, paint ball, music, Phantasy Photoshop.

Ian's conclusion: "We've made a lot of progress in pinning down what fun's all about. We've learned how fun's vital for good health and how it helps you learn. We've seen that theorizing about fun can stifle it, as can powerful institutions like Capitalism. We've noticed how fun's often seen like a negative thing that can only be enjoyed at certain times and places and by people of a certain age. We've also shown that you can have fun by changing what you think instead of what you do. I've also had fun trying to meet my psychological and spiritual needs through different activities and I hope I've inspired you to do the same. So, although I think enjoying the fun we are already having is a good starting point, I still reckon we can all benefit from having more fun in our lives, and I'm now more convinced than ever that fun is an essential part of life."

Ian Coe's Fun Quest.




By the time I could get myself to write 9-11, it was 9-14 already. Five years later, and it's 9-11 again. And I'm finally on time.

It is with near-uncanny timing I offer to you, the world, today's FunCast.


Toy Therapy for Creative Business Meetings

Given the air of renewedness that accompanies the commencement of the school year, many of us in the business world find ourselves engaged in lengthy creative and problem-solving meetings. Which brings me to this week's FunCast, the text of which and more may be found here.

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The Joy of Thinking

A Gamepuzzle, according to Kadon Enterprises, "is Kadon's trademark name for its product line of original tiling sets and strategy games. The sets are uniquely designed to include both solo solving (puzzles) and interactive, competitive play (games)."

Kadon's trademarked slogan is: "for the joy of thinking." Excuse me, I have to say that again, slowly, the j o y of t h i n k i n g. What a concept! What a wonderful thing to remind people of - the sheer, delightful, intrinsic fun of just thinking. Thinking alone. Thinking together.

And they do this through "Gamepuzzles" - puzzles that are at least as much fun thinking about by yourself as they are thinking about with others. Games that bridge two very different human experiences. Bridge, as in: connect, allow for migration between, create union. Between social and solitary thought. Not in any way to detract from the actual playworthiness of Kadon's Gamepuzzle concept. Merely to comment on the near Einsteinian accomplishment of Kadon's grand, unified theory of fun.

Kadon has been around since 1980, offering the public a growing collection of "enchanting original playthings in lasercut acrylic and handcrafted wood, for minds of all ages. So beautiful, they're art." Which is a conclusion you'd draw yourself just from looking at the gamepuzzle of Penrose Kites and Darts. Which is only one of 223 games and puzzles in Kadon's catalogue.

The Gamepuzzles site is rich and generous. There's even a free, virtual Puzzle Parlor, and dozens of other playable surprises hidden throughout the site, which, as the Kadon people promise, deliver instant gratification for those who appreciate "the joy of thinking."

Post-Apocalympics: Games for the Post-Apocalypse

Post-Apocalympics: games for the post-apocalypse.


Laundry Balls

According to this article, a game often referred to as "Norwegian Golf" (a.k.a. Arizona Golf Balls, Australian Horseshoes, Ball Dangle, BlongoBall, Bola, Bolo, Bolo Ball, Bolo Golf, Bolo Polo, Cowboy Golf, Dandy Golf, Dingle Balls, Flingy Ball, Gladiator, Golfball Horseshoes, Hillbilly Golf, Hillbilly Horseshoes, Horseballs, Ladder Ball, Ladder Game, Ladder Toss, Monkey Balls, Monkey Bars Golf, Montana Golf, Norwegian Golf, Norwegian Horseshoes, Pocca Bolo, Polish Golf, Polish Horsehoes, Poor Man's Golf, Rattlerail Toss, Redneck Golf, Rodeo Golf, Slither, Snake Toss, Snakes, Snakes & Ladders, Spin-It, Swedish Golf, The Snake Game , Testical Toss, Tower Ball, Willy Ball, and Zing-Ball) is actually called "Bolo Toss" or "Ladder Golf."

Searching for the commercial branches for the potential junkyard roots of this multi-named, outsider sport, I found myself constructing my very own set of bolo balls. Two superballs, some plastic wrap a couple of rubberbands, and, as herein depicted, voilà bolo balls. And then, as I went out to show Rocky (depicted above) my new achievement in junkitude, I couldn't help but notice the bolo-ball target-like qualities of that laundry drying thing we use. I threw. They twirled and bounced and wrapped around one of the laundry drying thing's sticks, and it was as if the game destined to be known as "Laundry Balls" invented itself. Which it did. And so did I.

Given the above, next time someone asks you if you know how to play Norwegian Golf, please ammend your standard response to: "do you, by any chance, mean Australian Horseshoes, Ball Dangle, BlongoBall, Bola, Bolo, Bolo Ball, Bolo Golf, Bolo Polo, Cowboy Golf, Dandy Golf, Dingle Balls, Flingy Ball, Gladiator, Golfball Horseshoes, Hillbilly Golf, Hillbilly Horseshoes, Horseballs, Ladder Ball, Ladder Game, Ladder Toss, Laundry Balls, Monkey Balls, Monkey Bars Golf, Montana Golf, Norwegian Golf, Norwegian Horseshoes, Pocca Bolo, Polish Golf, Polish Horsehoes, Poor Man's Golf, Rattlerail Toss, Redneck Golf, Rodeo Golf, Slither, Snake Toss, Snakes, Snakes & Ladders, Spin-It, Swedish Golf, The Snake Game, Testical Toss, Tower Ball, Willy Ball, or Zing-Ball?"

By the way, these plastic-wrapped, rubber-band-tied super balls are significantly fun in and of their own right, bouncing, as they do, and spinning, as they also do, in a visually pleasing, oft humorously unpredictable manner, whilst simultaneously displaying far tamer bounciness and more catchable properties than the single super ball.



They call today "Labor Day."

So I'm not working.

Go figure.

FunCast - Human Cards

If I devoted every FunCast to a different game, today's special Labor Day FunCast would be about the clearly different game of Human Cards. And in particular, to the game of War:

"Equipment: a deck or two of playing cards. Depending on the number of people. A pinochle deck for smaller groups...invite people to pick a card, any card. Continue until you're satisfied that everyone has a card.

"Now, ask everyone to shuffle (mill around), then cut into two equal packs (groups) and then arrange themselves into neat piles (lines) so that the head of one line faces the head of the second..."

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