I discovered Graham Russel-Pead’s article Playing for Life (PDF) while searching for listings of old New Games (I’ve decided to start using the term old New Games in stead of just plain New Games because, given that the New Games I’m talking about were only around during the 70s, most of you had no idea what I was talking about, which is not new new games, which are generally newer in ways that old New Games weren’t). The article does indeed contain a useful collection thereof, but it also includes what may prove an even more useful description of what made, and keeps old New Games, um, new.
Yes, the author, like so many others, emphasizes the cooperative over the competitive aspect of oNG, whereas we preferred to think of it as neither one nor so much the other; but note how insightfully he reframes his definition of both.
The major principles of co-operative play and New Games through which we achieve direct contact with ourselves and others – physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually – can be remembered from the mnemonic ACCESS.
Adaptation: It makes so much more sense to change the game to suit the players, than it is to change the players to suit the game.
Creativity: Society puts great restraints upon creativity at times. Playing and exploring ourselves and others through play can ease and break these constraints and release any fears of separation and exclusion. In breaking through accepted forms of communication which impose their own limits, we allow our creative selves much more freedom and greater self-expression.
Co-operation: Strategies we adopt as a group to bring about solutions to any problems, bring us all closer together in working for a common goal. COMPETITION CAN BE A SPUR, if there is NO WEIGHT placed upon the pride of ‘winning’, or the stigma of ‘loss’.
Equality: The barriers of racism, sexism, classism & ageism can be broken down by playing together, and by being who we are.
Sensitivity: Running, touching, being supported, carried, and cared for whilst moving through space and time …. all of these experiences, (which are harder to find in a society based on the glamour of competition, and mistrust) – can be reclaimed by the individual.
Sincerity: In playing the game of life totally, there are NO REPUTATIONS TO GAIN OR LOSE – just a sense of ‘being’ – amidst the expanding consciousness of a planet shared by billions of other players.