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Restoring Fun

Rehabilitation Games

See, this is what I've been looking for ever since Atari - remember all those controllers? The joystick and then the knobs, two different kinds of knobs, and Trac Ball, and two different kinds of keypads... ? How each felt different, each became a different connection between you and the game?

Remember those arcade machines with all those different kinds of knobs and buttons? That's when I dreamed up my Fitness Arcade, just about then, when I had all those controllers, and people went to the arcades, and I realized how each different controller connected me to a different experience of play. And I said to myself, "Bern," I said, "Bern, we could make exercise fun, we really could, really fun."

And today I find Biometrics Ltd, and learn that the fitness arcade might very well be in the process of becoming the rehabilitation arcade, bringing something fun to healing, something fun, at last.


from Bernie DeKoven's FunLog

The Pickup Game as a Model for Peace?

In his "My Turn" article, Newsweek's Nicholas O'Connell writes about The Pickup Game as a Model for Peace? (there's that question mark again - I guess someone at Newsweek wasn't ready to commit to the idea that a pick-up game could actually prove to be a model for something as desperately sought after as world peace - must not have read the whole article):
"Over the centuries, there have been many utopian schemes for world peace, now mostly consigned to the ash heap of history, but soccer offers a vision of how such a world order might actually work. There are none of the vague platitudes you hear at UNESCO conferences; the sport allows for plenty of competition; it's not just about love and brotherhood, as witnessed by the recent World Cup. People push, shove and sometimes foul. They want to win. But they must subordinate even the fiercest rivalries to the game itself. If a fight breaks out, the game stops. No one wants that...

"This is not to say that national identity didn't matter. The Arabs and Africans favored showboat dribbling and cartwheeling bicycle kicks in front of the goal. Irish, English and Americans like me preferred a more team-oriented, ball-control style. The more repressive the political system, it seemed, the more individualistic the soccer. These styles mixed and meshed and sometimes clashed, but when a long pass arced across the mouth of the goal, no one was thinking of the ethnicity of the person who passed it, only of heading it into the back of the net."
All right, all right, so maybe it's not a model for world peace. So how about "world play?"



from Bernie DeKoven's FunLog

Free Hugs

I found this video about The Free Hugs Campaign on Milk and Cookies.

It made me sad.

It made me laugh.

It made me angry.

It made me cry.

This is a world where giving free hugs is a political statement.

This is a world that was made to be a lot more fun than we let it be.

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."

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.

Don't Let the Humor Escape You

Games Seniors Play

This week's newsletter started with a link to this article in Newsday - Racing to Play. It's about the kinds of games seniors play. You know what kinds the reporter talks about? The Mah Jong, Scrabble, Bingo kinds. The reporter actually interviewed me. She had already done a lot of research and was convinced that she had a fundamental grasp of what seniors (that's me, too, you know) play.

Me, I was horrified. Here's the only quote she got out of me:
"Fun is "noble" in the eyes of California-based game-maker and guru Bernie DeKoven, 64. "I think a lot of older people are reclaiming their need to play," he said, "and they're looking for opportunity and finding places that foster a certain amount of playfulness."
You can almost hear the horror.

I received a couple of wonderful responses from subscribers, and I wanted to share them with you.

The first came from George Platts, long time friend and renown artist of fun, who coined the term "Everlasting Games:
"I've been playing and inventing wacky games for groups of seniors to play for over ten years.

"'Seated Hockey' almost got out of hand it was SO physical. The other hospital staff could not believe it (how fun it was). The seniors really enjoyed it. We played hard. We played fair. Nobody was hurt. That's easy, if you have the know how.

"'Bean Bag Bin' was specially designed because a number of the seniors were blind or partially sighted. Two lines seated opposite each other. A thrower. A catcher. Thrower tosses a heavyish bean bag. Catcher uses a metal trash can. If the thrower is blind, the catcher can move the trash can. If the catcher is blind, the thrower can aim well enough. The bean bag dropping into the metal trash can makes a very satisfying noise (and doesn't bounce out). Each thrower has three turns then the bean bags and trash can ('bin' in English) move to the next pair alternating thrower-catcher between teams. When it gets to the end of the line everybody stands up and changes to the next seat in line (each team in an opposite direction - the end people have a longer walk; good exercise) and the second round begins with people facing different opponents . . . and so it goes. Brilliant."
And from Jac Rongen, these wonderfully affirming photos.

If you or someone you know or work with is ready to bring fun back into his or her life, Bernie is available by phone and email for personal coaching. Click Contact for more information on how to reach him.

Loving Fun

The Well-Played Game
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