The Eight Funnest Games for 2008

Eight games, representing a broad spectrum of commercially-available, party-like playfulness, have been selected for your holiday delights.

Check them out here.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith


Extreme Recycling - revisited

From Tony Hall, son of the Extreme Recycler

via Bernie DeKoven, funsmith


A Handout for a workshop on "When Teaching is Fun"

I used my Mac and a projector to capture some of the thoughts that were generated during my workshop at the Primary conference (a gift from my "Technography" days), and appended them in a notes file to the handout I had prepared for the session.

As you might glean from those notes, what I hadn't prepared for was the depth, creativity, enthusiasm and playfulness of the core participants, all of which was revealed in its fullness in a short game of Tabletop Olympics (a.k.a. Junkyard Olympics, and soon to be known as "The Junkyard Games"). What you see in the photo is a spontaneously generated version of Junkyard Bowling, which, according to its re-inventors, was clearly a sport of Olympic proportions.

All of which gave me a sense of hope for education. Somehow, despite all the bureaucracy and standards and testing that has dominated the inheritors of the No Child Left Behind legislation, there are still teachers who believe in play, who make things fun, even when fun doesn't count.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Compassionate Fun

So now we have a 55th flavor of fun:


There's something fun about compassion. With the fear and the distrust, the powerlessness and the anger, compassion, being compassionate, compassionate acts, seem everso much more deeply fun; tastes everso much more clearly, inherently, well, good.

It feels good to act like a good person.

Despite it all. It's fun to care.

Click this site for more.

For related fun, see also Kind Fun and Loving Fun.

via TED

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith



"Eunoia," quoth the Wikipedia, "is the shortest English word containing all five main vowel graphemes. It comes from the Greek word εύνοι&alpha which means well mind or beautiful thinking."

Eunoia is also the title of a book of, well, poems, by Christopher Bök. The following excerpt should more than amply explain our collective interest in the significance of the aforementioned:
Midspring brings with it singing birds, six kinds, (finch, siskin, ibis, tit, pipit, swift), whistling shrill chirps, trilling chirr chirr in high pitch. Kingbirds flit in gliding flight, skimming limpid springs, dipping wingtips in rills which brim with living things: krill, shrimp, brill - fish with gilt fins, which swim in flitting zigs. Might Virgil find bliss implicit in this primitivism? Might I mimic him in print if I find his writings inspiring?
Play. Word play. Deeply fun word play, cresting the poetic heights of monovowelism.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Teaching Games

I recently wrote an article called Teaching Games.

I wanted to share with you some of the second part, especially, because I thought you'd find it especially useful.

It goes like this:
Something gets engaged in people when you teach them new games, and the dialogue is about fun. There are rules to be learned, and rules to be changed. And if the game is really new to them, they have to challenge some pretty basic assumptions about what winning means and what strategies to use. They have to think about what's fun for them. Become sensitive to their own sense of play. They have to discover the unique proposition of the game, and the fun inherent in that uniqueness. And if the game is similar to one they already know, they have to make even subtler distinctions.

See, this game is just like tag, except there's no base, and the only way you can be safe is when you're hugging someone.

And, most important, the teacher, and the player, both have to think about the fun of it all. About what's fun for them, together. And how to make the game moreso.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Find a game you think you'll have fun playing together.
  • Look for a game that's like a game you've already had fun playing together.
  • It's especially easy to teach a game that's like a game you all already know. "This game is just like Tic Tac Toe, only you have to get 4 in a row, and you can use an X or an O."
  • Start out with the shortest version of the game - the one that will take you the fewest rules to explain.
  • Teach the game as though having fun together was more important than how the game is supposed to be played.
  • If winning becomes too important, change sides from time to time, or make it the rule that you both can play either side, or give each side a name, and decide ahead of time which side is going to win, or play a different game - especially a game that doesn't require a lot of skill, or try a game that involves a very different skill.
  • Don't stay with any one game longer than it's fun for everybody to play. Start out "tasting" the game. You don't have to play it to the end. Just play it long enough to decide whether you want to play it some more.
  • If it stops being fun, stop the game and play something else. Something different. Something involving a different skill. Or no skill at all.
  • Take turns teaching each other games.

Something else happens to both games teacher and games learners as they explore more new games. They start thinking not only about the fun of it, but also the shared fun that grows wider and deeper between players and teacher.

And what gets learned, just like what we learned at that physics class, is too deep to be measured. But it enriches us. Enlivens us. Engages hearts and minds and bodies.

We learn how to approach the learning of new systems, of relationships, to our minds, bodies, to each other. We learn how to create and sustain fun. How to pursue happiness together. We learn how to teach games. We learn each other.

Which is why I'm suggesting that this idea of Teaching Games is something that we might take very seriously, in deed. Something we might even take professionally.

When we teach people how to teach games, the focus is on fun. And that's what they teach when they teach games to other people: different games, but always with the focus on fun. Every meeting another game. Helping them find the games that help them find fun, together.

It's something game teachers can do this at senior centers and kindergartens, coffee shops and recreation centers, playgrounds and hospitals - engaging minds, muscles, hearts, teaching each other the arts of fun.

I'm not sure what to call this profession. Not Game Teachers, because what's really being taught is not so much games. But something deeper even than fun.

Play pals? Fun buddies? Game gurus? Magisters Ludi?

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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