Independence Day games?

by Bernie DeKoven on July 4, 2011

So, it’s July 4th again. A day of fireworks and picnics and games.

Which led me to ask myself: “of all the games I know, is there an Independence Day-worthy game – a game that truly conveys the spirit of independence as I have come to understand it?”

Thinking about July 4th, about my best experiences of that day, I remember most vividly those few times when, before all the fireworks and people have drifted into the clouds of exploded gunpowder, before anyone even thinks of packing up, somebody starts singing. Maybe the Star-Spangled Banner. Spontaneously. Then gets joined by a few voices. Then more. Some people holding hands. Some with families. Some with strangers.

That’s the moment. That’s the very thing. More than the spectacle. The experience we come together for. The experience of, well, a more perfect union.

What game could possibly capture that feeling?

The game that came to me? Prui.

Here’s how it’s played:

Get more or less everyone together. (For any game to be fun, participation has to be optional).

When the mass is about as critical as it will get, choose someone to start the game. Everyone closes their eyes and starts milling around. In the mean time, the game starter secretly appoints someone to be Prui.

When people bump into each other, they shake hands, while saying “prui” (pronounced “proo-ee”). If the person they encounter is not Prui, they each go off to find someone else. On the other hand (as it were) when someone bumps into the actual, pre-appointed Prui, shakes hands and says prui, the Prui shakes hands, doesn’t say anything, and doesn’t let go.

Now both people are Prui, remaining Prui until the end of the game. If either of them is encountered by anyone else, more people are added to the collective Prui. The game continues until more or less everyone has become Prui. Then, at a signal from the pre-selected Prui appointer (who has her eyes open during the game so she can help steer people away from miscellaneous environmental hazards) they can open their eyes.

There are some exceptionally fun moments as more and more people feel their way towards pruiness. It gets quieter and quieter. The plaintive sounds of the unpruied few mingling with the invisibly giggling many.

Odd that I should think of Prui as a 4th of July game. Prui, when you think about it, is a celebration and evocation of interdependence, not independence. It’s a game where the fun of it all is in finding that we are not alone, in being embraced by others. (Hmm. given that definition, you’d have to call Hug Tag, another game that became a central part of the New Games repertoire, an Independence Day game. And you’d probably also want to consider Augusto Boal’s lovely game of Glass Cobra.)

Interdependence it seems to me, is the core of what we celebrate today. At least, that’s the experience that I find the most relevant, meaningful, the most, well, touching.

Hence, my recommendation.

Prui, anyone? Anyone? Prui?


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