The Fun Community

This week's FunCast is the first part a chapter in the Well-Played Game called "The Fun Community." It has become an increasingly central part of everything I teach, and, for some, has become very useful in understanding how to design games for mass, multiplayer, online communities.

Here's a bit:
"...The only real assurance we have about the "fun" we can have together is the one we give each other.

The need for community holds true whether we are players or spectators. As a spectator, I want to be able to scream for my team. If the spectator sitting next to me wants to scream for her team, and if she insists that I also scream for her team, the likelihood is that we will wind up screaming at each other. We have to spend more of our time resisting each other than enjoying the game. I want the game to be important. She wants the game to be important. But we both lose our opportunity to relish this importance when the game becomes more important to us than we are to each other."

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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The More the Merrier

Leading games is an art. Especially when you are leading games for large groups. Especially for very large groups - like, say, 1000 people. An art that can set the tone for an entire day or weekend or weeklong conference - for just about any organization, profit or non, kids or grown-ups. An art that requires years to master and that only a master player can teach.

Unless you happen to have a copy of a book called The More the Merrier - an impressively extensive, well-organized, carefully detailed, and often minutely scripted facilitation guide to games and exercises for large groups.

The authors are all themselves master players - and their mastery, based on years of direct experience leading large groups, is deep enough to have been built on the wisdom of other master players, including some of the leading thinkers in experiential education and group facilitation, and, in some small part, those of the people who carried on the work of the New Games Foundation, which includes the mastery of in some other small part, mine.

So moved am I by my being actually quoted that I am in similar manner moved to quote from the people who quoted me:
"The More The Merrier means that more players are not an obstacle to play, but something to celebrate. In the ideal global picture, people who love to play will invite more people to play, and those players will include even more players. People laughing and playing together create an experience in common. Commonalities create connections, the invitation to further relationship. From relationship comes the possibility of understanding, acceptance, and even forgiveness. We don t propose that large group play is an answer to world peace, though it could be a kinesthetic catalyst to peace among groups of every size. The More The Merrier contain stories, theories, charts, guidance, and instruction, distilled from the experiences of the three authors, along with over 100 games and activities. Some will be new to you and some are classics converted from small group play to large. Similar to a smörgåsbord, we invite you to take some and leave some, and be satisfied in the end."

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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12 Ways to Pimp your Office

Our Chief Happiness Officer has made a significant contribution to the potential for office happiness, or at least, office playfulness, in his most inspiring article "12 Ways to Pimp your Office". The tree-thing-with-balls, for example, that illustrates this article is actually a chair in which one could actually sit if one were so inclined, as one would definitely have to be. The article describes such bizarre office furniture as the high-tech, Mac-like, aquarium-holding Milk Desk, the office cowboy's Saddle Chair, and the naptime-ready Sumo Chair. Alexander Kjurelf, CHO, concludes:
"Why not let people choose for themselves, and give them a chance to create an environment that suits them. The resulting variety may be confusing to those who think that business is about structure, order and control… but it’s sure to be more stimulating and fun for those of us who think that work is about being happy."
These are clearly radical thoughts, as any work-happiness-correlation thoughts would have to be. Which makes them especially worthy of our collective attention. And yes, of course, you're right again - happily wacky furniture does not necessarily a happy office make. But, should it be the case that playfulness is actually smiled upon by the powers that be, and should all that smiling-upon be further validated by the daily performance in the sacred marketplace, well, then, eine kliene furniture-wackiness can only make a good thing more likely to get better, yes no?

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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For fun and function

I quote:

For all those times when you have spent a countless number of hours playing one of those little online games or watching stupid videos on the web, and stopped for a second to think to yourself, "Man, I really should do something more useful with my time...," and then kept wasting time anyways...

Now you can help us collect data about language AND play a fun game! We currently have two games, the Free-Association Game, and Categorilla...

Playing the games is useful in two ways. First, the games adapt and improve based on what people have typed. For example, the taboo words are generated based on the most popular past guesses for each word. Second, we collect the guesses, which gives us information about the relationships between words. For example, if you are playing Categorilla and type "George Washington" for the category "Presidents", we have now learned that George Washington is a president.

See also the semi-game-like Google Image Labeler

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Rock-Paper-Scissors, and way, way more

Apparently, someone named David C. Lovelace has been afoot (and even more ahand) at producing new and evermore complex variations of more mature versions of the apparently global game of Rock Paper Scissors. [Wikipedia notes the following additional names:
"Janken (Japan), Jiandao Shítou Bu (China), Rochambeau, Paper Scissors Stone (UK), Steen, Papier, Schaar (Netherlands), Scissors, Paper, Rock (Australia), Paper Scissors Rock (NZ), Ching Chong Cha (South Africa), Chi Ku Ba (Tamil - India), Even Niyar Umisparayim (Israel), Schnick, Schnack, Schnuck (Germany), Schere, Stein, Papier (Swiss German), Morra Cinese (Italy), Piedra, Papel o Tijeras (Latin America)...Pedra, Papel, Tesoura (Portugal), Chin chan pu (Mexico), Ca Chi Pun (Chile), Bao Sing Soum (Cambodia)... Pierre, Papier/Feuille, Ciseaux or chifoumi (French), Roche, Papier, Ciseaux (Quebec), Petra, Psalidi, Charti (Greece) and Kgauwi-bauwi-bo (Korea), Kivi, Paperi, Sakset (Finnish), Pao, Ying, Choop (Thai), Jack en Poy (Philippines)... "].
Lovelace has created RPS-7, a version of Rock Paper Scissors with 7 different symbols, RPS-9, etc., etc., until, in what we hope is the culminating Rock Paper Scissors variant, RPS 101, which is, as you might guess, Rock Paper Scissors as played with 101 different symbols.

In the meantime, noted Rejuvenile Christopher Noxon notes notably that the World RPS Society has taken Rock Paper Scissors to the business world, as can be seen in this video from a "500 person RPS Networking Event at the Word of Mouth Marketing Association Summit in Washington DC."

We do not know what would happen if these two great forces in Rock Paper Scissors innovations combined, and we probably don't want to know what would happen if they in turned combined with structured mayhem of Rock Paper Scissors Tag, but we do know a good game when we see one. Rock Paper Scissors, a children's game, profound enough to span the globe, to reach all the way from the playgrounds of the world to the heart of corporate culture.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Games Tasting at the Senior Center

Our first meeting at the Veterans Park Senior Center in Redondo Beach began with a game of Tumblin-Dice - a kind of tabletop shuffleboard played with dice. It was at least as effective, and fun, as I had thought it was going to be - easy to learn, challenging, and yet with enough luck to keep people from taking it too seriously. Especially, given that people had come into the center expecting to learn more about how to play Texas Hold 'em. Even older people, who had difficulty standing, were moving around, waiting for their turn with very apparent glee. The only obstacle was keeping score - doing the arithmetic calculations of adding and multiplying the spots on the dice - which, of course, is part of the challenge for children as well as seniors. Since this was the first game we played, I helped with the scorekeeping. Trying to slide the dice into the scoring areas was more than enough to keep people focused on fun.

But the event really didn't become major fun, until we started playing A to Z. At first, there were just enough players so we could have one for each of the 4 boards. There are two dice - one, the category die, determines which of 6 questions you are trying to answer, the other, the timer die, determines how much time you have (15 or 30 seconds), and two special events - one that allows you to cover up any empty space, and second which lets you take chips off the board of any other player.

As I taught the game, I suggested that we ignore, for the time being, both of the dice. When it was someone's turn, that player would pick a card, select any one of the six categories, and start the timer (giving themselves 30 seconds). I think, because we knew we were ignoring some of the rules (cheating, perhaps?), the game became even more fun. Later, when more people came in, we had to share boards, so it became a game between teams. And this made the game even more fun. Individual players didn't feel so pressured because they were part of a team. We all knew we were kind of cheating (picking whatever item we wanted from the category cards, disregarding both dice), so the game became a shared thing, one that we had all adapted, for our own use, for our own fun.

And major fun it was.

So major that this very story is the topic of today's FunCast

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith


Scheduling play at work, and scheduling work, also at work

The Now Habit, "A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play" by psychologist Dr. Neil Fiore, was originally published about 20 years ago, and people are still just getting around to buying it. I guess the reasons are self-explanatory. I, myself, just found out about the book from an article called: "Should You Really be Playing?." Here's a Fiore quote, courtesy of Trizle: "Scheduling play everyday instead stimulates your soul to work much more productively, while keeping your morale higher than a freakish eagle." Ah, and again, ah.

In a semi-related article, we find another ah-worthy article called "Flow: Get into the Zone at Work," which very neatly digests Csikszentmihalyi's vaunted psycho-philosophy into the following paragraph:
"Clarifying your short-term goals, closing out likely distractions, letting go of your expectations of how people will react to your work, setting apart a period of time and letting a timer keep track of it, testing early and often, adjusting tasks to the right level of difficulty, mastering your tools, enjoying craftsmanship for its own sake, and training your mind to wander less. All of these are simple things within themselves, though perhaps a lot to keep track of at once. You can integrate these components into your work style all at once or bit by bit. The end result will be the same: a fuller, more satisfying engagement with your work, yielding higher quality results."
I think it's the synthesis of these two semi-great insights into the play/work continuum that will bear the sweetest fruit - making sure you give yourself the permission to get into play, and making just as sure that you give yourself what you need to get into work.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Afterthoughts on Coworking

Friend, colleague and coworker Gerrit Visser had apparently been reading an old article of mine on the 3M Meeting Network, called Virtual Teamwork: Tools and Techniques for Working Together Online when he asked me if I would comment on how things had changed since that article.

It was a welcome challenge. I was surprised at how deeply I got into it, and how quickly it all seemed to come together. Here it is:

As web conferencing tools evolved to the point that Microsoft decided to buy Placeware and create its own brand "Live Meetings" the promise that I had seen for this technology largely devolved. Though all the tools are in place, and even cross-platform, what I've seen of the way these technologies are put to use is an exacerbation of the same problems that plague face-to-face large business meetings: agendas are rarely clear or followed, actual work, and decisions, are accomplished for the most part outside of the meeting, and the meeting itself is designed more to "broadcast" some presentation or another than it is to gather information or opinion. Regardless of the availability of online facilitation (the technologies of which have also grown more powerful and effective), the vast majority of large meetings (those that involve more than three people), are "informational" and political in purpose and function.

Working together (coworking), as it has become technologically empowered, has followed the same pattern that we have become familiar with in the office place - having its most success outside of scheduled meetings - informally, spontaneously, and most often between a few people who share a similar interest in getting something done.

Technography, the art of computer-enhanced facilitation, is still ahead of its time. And perhaps will remain ahead of its time for decades to come. It is being used to some degree in these small coworking groups, but, like these groups, informally and without any real focus on or knowledge of the facilitation of collaborative process. Given an application-sharing technology, someone might think of "throwing up a spreadsheet" and participants might ask for changes, or take over the driving as needed. This, however, is still rare. I do believe that it will become more of a modus operandi for coworking groups, but that will be a while.

I believe that most coworkers are mavericks. They have learned how, whenever possible, to avoid the office and office politics. They have grown up with computers and don't like to be taught how to do things. As in computer games, they like to "learn by dying" - invent themselves and their processes as they go along, master whatever software they need without reading the documentation, make their own mistakes, and learn from them. Because this way of coworking is so much more immediate, and so much more satisfying, it will probably persist for quite some time before people begin to pay attention to their own collaborative processes and how they might improve them.

With document sharing provided by mainstream services like Google, video chat supported by Yahoo, conference calling, combined with chat and peer-to-peer file transfer available for free via Skype, audio and video blogging, coworking tools are becoming more and more ubiquitous, and people are beginning to use them with as little forethought as picking up a telephone - a telephone which, of course, is Internet-compatible, GPS-enabled, and can capture photos and video.

This article was originally published on, where you can find the follow-up article "Community, Coworking and Coliberation."

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith


Maze Zing

Maze Zing mazes are made of real objects. Exactly like the Gone Fishin' maze in this illustration, actually made out of actual fish hooks. Fish hooks!

Created by Jeff Montayne, these mazes are testimonies to the man's playfulness, patience, and ability to scrounge. He explains:
"The mazes were set up for the picture and then taken apart immediately after. Most of the objects in the mazes were purchased through Internet auctions and from local stores. I am looking forward to hunting through yard sales for items as I continue to create more intriguing mazes. I got the idea for creating the mazes one Saturday while reading books with my little cousins, Kayleigh and Taryn. We exhausted our collection of picture puzzle books and began searching the house for items to make our own picture puzzles...Using my digital equipment, I spent a Saturday building and photographing four picture puzzles to entertain Kayleigh and Taryn. I didn’t want to recreate what someone else had already done, so I began experimenting with my own styles. The four pictures I created kept the kids amused for a while but I quickly learned that my work would never be finished. They wanted more and more. Thus, Maze Zing was born."
The mazes in Maze Zing represent many small, but brilliant contributions to the World Maze. Montayne's discovery that little bits of stuff can make great mazes, that different stuff has different properties which lends itself to different kinds of mazes, that the digital camera makes temporary things permanent...each and all opened new doors for maze play. And Montayne's willingness to be guided by his cousins' playfulness demonstrates once again how children can lead us into new forms of art and play, and how love can make it so much worth doing.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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QuadBall is a sport based on the theories of a brilliant and devoted physical educator named Muska Mosston. Dr. Mosston is the author of the Slanty Line theory that I describe with such enthusiasm in my article on Fun and Flow.

I quote from the site:
"Observing a boy shooting hoops, Muska noticed the consistency where the ball hit the front of the goal rim. He walked over to the goal and pulled on it until it slanted down about 20°. The boy’s next three shots went right through the goal. Muska realized that slanting the goal 20° significantly increased a shorter student’s chances of making the goal.

"QuadBall is based on that 'Slanted Rim' theory developed by the late Dr. Muska Mosston. It's designed to create an environment prone to 'inclusion,' where every child has an opportunity for skill development through experimentation."
And it looks like fun, too.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Kind Fun

The topic for this week's funcast is Kind Fun. That is to say, the kind of fun one would call kind.

As doting parents are wont to do, beloved wife Rocky and beloved I were exchanging dotes about what we thought to be our proudest accomplishments, which, of course, if they can be called "accomplishments," are our kids. And the one thing we immediately thought of, pride-wise, was that both of our kids, when all is said and done, were kind people.

Which led me to thinking about fun, of course, and the kind of fun that has proven to me to be, after all the saying and doing, the most consistently fun. And, as you have probably already surmised, surmising kind of person that you probably are, that kind of fun is the kind kind.


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Dancing in the Streets

Barbara Ehrenreich's Dancing in the Streets is a celebration of celebration. It is about ecstatic dancing, religious and profane, as practiced throughout history and across cultures.

Ehrenreich begins her exploration with earliest recorded history, from cave paintings to early religion. She writes:
"To the extent that we can only guess at today, the religion of the ancient Greeks was a 'danced religion,' much like those of the 'savages' European travelers were later to discover around the world. As Aldous Huxley once observed, 'Ritual dances provide a religious experience that seems more satisfying and convincing than any other...It is with their muscles that humans most easily obtain knowledge of the divine.'" (p. 33)
I have to quote that quote again: "It is with their muscles that humans most easily obtain knowledge of the divine." Muscle knowledge. Yes. And yes again. Knowledge of the divine. Knowledge of the self, of love, of community. Through the muscles. And dances, like games, are the liturgy.

Ehrenreich, in inviting us back into the dance, is inviting us to abandon ourselves to the celebration of life. She is not trying to be objective. She is trying to reason with us, to give us perspective, to remind us of what it means to join the rhythmic magic of ecstatic dance, to caution us against abandoning abandon.
"Nothing speaks more clearly of the darkening mood, the declining possibilities for joy, than the fact that, while the medieval peasant created festivities as an escape from work, the Puritans embraced work as an escape from terror." (p. 145)
But all is not lost. The spirit of ecstatic dance has surfaced again and again, throughout our history, despite our most puritanic leanings. The emergence of Rock and Roll, the Beatlemaniacs, the Deadheads, each leading us back to the dance. And most recently, oddly enough, we are finding each other dancing in the stadium.
"So, by the close of the twentieth century, the clash of the athletes was only one part, and for many only a minor part, of the activities and events that made up a game. People went to the stadium for the opportunity to dress up and paint their faces, to see and be seen, to eat and drink immoderately, to shout and sing and engage in the sports fan's equivalent of dancing." (p. 237)
No, Ehrenreich is not objective about the whole thing. She is a brilliant, informed, impassioned teacher. She cautions us again and again against the growing isolation and alienation that we have accepted into our lives. And she offers us a perspective, a promise, a gift, an invitation to the dance.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Bent Objects

It's called "Bent Objects," and it's an invitation to play, and to make art, and to be silly. It is a gift. From a man named Terry Border.

He explains: "I'm an artist trying to be discovered by the masses. I make up things in my head, then try to make them with my hands."

Clear. Unpretentious. Fun. Empowering. Discover him.

via Ze Frank, funspotter

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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The Box Doodle Project

In Kris Bordessa's blog, Great Solutions to Team Challenges, she does me the great honor of not only blogging my Festival of Junk concept. Kris is the author of an importantly playful book called "Team Challenges," and I even managed to interview her in a FunCast not too long ago. So it's not too surprising that she would grok the idea of a Festival of Junk so thoroughly. She writes:
Beyond the financial feasibility of this, it's an opportunity to bring some environmental awareness to a community. Not only is there an element of reuse, but there's an element of NON-use. In other words, if the activities use scavenged and found items, it WON'T require new products to be purchased and consumed.

And, kids participating in an event like this will learn how to think beyond the usual bounds of playthings and discover the joy of cardboard and bottle caps. Or should I say REdiscover? The joy of cardboard boxes is well-known to toddlers, but as they become little consumers, they learn that the box is garbage and expect something grander to entertain them.
And I am touched and close to overjoyed, not only by the discovery that Kris has so compassionately captured the politics and purposes of the Festival of Junk, but also by her taking it one step further with her mention of a most admirably silly venture called "The Box Doodle Project."

The Box Doodle. Lovely, supremely junkish in concept and spirit. Box Doodler David Hoffman explains: "the rules are quite simple: rearrange a box to make any kind of figure or object. Make the most of least." It's inspiring, really, to see the collection of whimsical, cardboard-backed delights contributed by artists of all callings. For our immediate gratification, there's even a virtual Box Doodle Tool, taking the concept beyond cardboard entirely, should we, for some reason, find ourselves so called.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Shakedown is a dexterity game of clearly Major FUN proportions. Basically, you're balancing playing-like cards on top of a narrow platform, adding new cards with every turn. But that's only basically.

Let's start at the bottom. The bottom of the "tower" upon which the cards are balanced. The same bottom where all the cards are stored, and from which all the cards are drawn during play. Let's also take a moment to look at the tower itself, how it twists, as if to make it even more challenging to figure out exactly where the actual center of gravity might be. A lovely thing, actually. Colorful. Self-storing enough that you could throw the box away and take the game with you to every party and family gathering within which you find yourself and others. Note, further, that the cards, which are drawn one at a time from the base of the tower, are drawn from the base of the tower. The base. Whereupon the tower stands. Imagine therefore the increasingly precarious conundrum thereby imposed every time you attempt to extricate a card from the aforementioned - having to perhaps lift the tower upon whose top all those other cards are so cunningly balanced so that you can get your card and take your turn.

Let's continue to the deck itself. Some cards have different values. Other cards ask you to perform acts of evermore significant challenge, like "play cards with non-dominant hand" or "hold tower and spin around" or perhaps "previous player - blow once from 5 feet." And now, at last, to the top, considerably smaller than the base, and yet whereupon the cards are to be placed (two corners of each card not touching any other card).

All in all, an elegant, almost self-explanatory, somewhat Jenga-like game, requiring steady-hands, a willingness to fail, and just enough luck to keep you from taking it seriously.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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The Opposite of Play

(image found in Lee Stranahan's weblog) Today's FunCast is inspired by a quote from Dr. Brian Sutton-Smith, my friend for over 30 years now, and, as all of my friends, my personal mentor. A play-advocate who has brought more understanding, compassion, scholarship and original thinking to the study of play than Piaget or Huizinga, professor emeritus of the University of Pennsylvania, and author of, among other things, The Ambiguity of Play. The quote: "The opposite of play isn't work, it's depression."

You have to be just a little bit of a rebel if you really want to have fun. You have to be doing something you're really not supposed to be doing. Nothing really bad or hurtful or even really dangerous. Something slightly naughty. A little bad maybe. A tiny bit illegal.

Like playing where you're not supposed to be playing, when you're not supposed to be playing, with people and things you're not supposed to play with. Or playing in a way you're not supposed to. With maybe not exactly the "real" rules.

For some reason, no matter how old you are, if fun is something you really want to be having, you generally have to be doing something you shouldn't be doing, really. That's how you get to the liminal spaces, at the edges of acceptability, predictability, respectability.

So when people talk about bringing fun into the workplace or places of learning, it's always just a little bit threatening, a little bit disturbing of the status of the quo.

And in places where such play becomes so threatening that it is rigidly, thoroughly disallowed, where this minor expression of playful illegality is systematically suppressed, you get depression. Deep, thorough, mind- and brain- and soul-numbing depression. In those places, work places, learning places, living places, you get the opposite of play.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Ze's Kaleidoscope

There's Draw Toy (and a gallery of drawings made with said same). And there's Byokal, a significantly amusing, easy-to-use, yet truly virtual kaleidoscope.

And today, from the website of the prolifically playful Ze Frank we have what can, oddly enough, only be called "Draw Toy vs Byokal."

Go ye, therefore, draw, reflect, amaze yourself.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith


Double Ball

Years ago, when I was writing for Games magazine, I proposed that we do an article on what I called "Two Balls Tied Together." We actually got as far as doing a photo session for the article, but, ultimately, it got killed. I suppose because of the semi-salacious significance of what I was calling the game. And perhaps also because the game didn't seem to be "real." Nobody we knew of was actually playing it. Even though it was clearly fun. And most definitely playworthy. There weren't any Two-Balls-Tied-Together Leagues or clubs, even.

Recently, maybe 20 years later, I heard from a company called Yazoo. These Yazoos were in fact marketing their own patented version of something remarkably similar to TBTT (Two Balls...etc.). Coming to me as it did in this enlightened age of the Internet, I gleefully Googled for evidence of this game elsewhere. And behold, it was, in truth, a game called Double Ball, played by our Native American brothers o so many years ago, as further explicated here.

There's something to be learned here about the nature of new sports, and timing, and naming, and patents and stuff.

When you figure it out, please let me know.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Solitaire for seniors?

Dear Major Fun,

Do you have/know of any adaptive games for seniors to do on their own? My dear Auntie recently entered a nursing home at age 96 after having been independent her whole life. She now needs major assistance & can participate in very few group activities. Although they do have an activities director, that person does things like bring Auntie magazines. Auntie used to love to play Bridge; I was thinking that if she had a flannel board of some kind that could hold cards for Solitaire that would be one thing she could probably do in her wheelchair or in bed. I haven’t been able to think of other solo activities, nor have I been able to come up with anywhere to find a board like I’m describing for playing cards.
Major Fun replies:

I've been Googling around. I think magnetic playing cards might be your best alternative. I found them fairly widely available. The most often recommended seem to be these.

However, since you asked, most seniors I know really crave people to play with, a lot more than things to play with by themselves. The real, life-restoring stimulation that they so much need comes from, well, living things.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith


Magic Camp

Imagine being a kid, 10-15, and spending 3 mornings a week, for two months, learning magic. Imagine, furthermore, that this class is being conducted by a place called The Magic Academy, founded by the famous "illusionist" (a far more accurate description of what magic is all about) Gopinath Muthukad.

While you're at it, imagine how sheer the fun of mastering illusions that can mystify parents and friends alike. Imagine the impact on the kids' experience of themselves, and the world, on their understanding of the rational grounding of all illusions, on their belief in themselves, on their growing mastery of mystery.

Now imagine this school taking place in India, where magic is everywhere. India, where people still astound audiences with the famed Indian Rope Trick. India, where magic and illusion abut religion and science. Read, for example, this paper Illusions and Images of Magic India and Indian Magic

So this is powerful play, this magic. Powerfully informative. Powerfully healing. Stage magician David Copperfield and psychologist therapist Julie De Jean have developed something called Project Magic, specifically for "people with physical, psychosocial and developmental disabilities or those recovering from accidents and illnesses." They have found that magic "motivates the rehabilitation process and develops and improves self-concept while boosting hand, gross motor, problem-solving and social skills."

Magicians, as this article explains, "know an awful lot about how people perceive the world."

A summer camp in magic. What a gift to give a child.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Dying with Laughter

This week's FunCast is called "Dying with Laughter." It's a potentially depressing, yet hopefully uplifting contemplation of how we might embrace both death and life, simultaneously.

Most of the text for this FunCast can be found here

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith


A Celebration of Junk - a proposal

Last November, Philip Ella Juico wrote published an article called "Sports for All" in the Philippine Star. The article was the result of several exchanges we had over the previous months, about bringing sports to the far reaches of the Philippines. Dr. Juico was very active with the major sports organizations in the Philippines, and, because he had access to some of the major players, he thought about organizing a tour in which they would run demonstration games in the nation's villages. This led to many fascinating conversations, a wonderful meeting, and, ultimately, my crafting the following proposal:

A Celebration of Junk is a festival of play - an event that affirms the human capacity to play.

A Festival of Play - a public gathering that combines spectacle with empowerment, that provides a platform for the display of both athletic and artistic achievement, while providing an invitation to equal participation by all members of the community - all genders, ages, abilities - to everyone who wants to play.

A Festival of Play - celebrating genius in body, mind and spirit; genius in sports, in individual and team performance, in individual and collective art and invention, in music and dance.


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