Saturday, March 17, 2007

Weekend Gaming

My Mantra: It Can't Be Done

We dropped a barfing dog off at my daughter's mechina program on the way to the SPNI field school at Ein Gedi at which we would be staying for the weekend.

Check in wasn't until 3:00 pm, so those of us who arrived early hiked up and around some of the famous trails of Ein Gedi. Our trail up was Nahal David, named after King David, as this was the very trail he hid among while hiding from Saul.

I'm getting older; I admit it. I'm only thirty-seven, but I'm not as dexterous, energetic, and aerobic as I once was. And of course, the less I exercise, the harder I find it to start again.

One thing I know, however, is that I can get over the hump and then keep going for a long time. I simply have to expect that my first few hours of activity look like this:

+ Walk a bit
+ Sit and rest
+ Walk a bit less
+ Sit and rest
+ Walk a bit less
+ Sit and rest
+ Want to go back
+ Walk a bit more

After which I can pretty much walk for several hours straight.

To keep me going, I use a mantra for inspiration. It goes as follows; you might want to try this yourself:

"I can't do it. It's impossible. I'm too tired. I'll never make it. This is pointless. It can't be done. I hate this. I'm a total failure. ..."

And so on, for until I get over the hump. Later on, when my companion needs a rest, while I am ready for tireless walking, the mantra is:

"What's your problem? You want to rest already? I'm not tired, I could keep walking for another few hours. What great air! I feel great. ..."

Which pretty much makes me an all-around pain-in-the-ass.

It was this persevering attitude that allowed me to cross-hike the Appalachian trail, however. A subject for another post.

Modern Parlor Games are Victorian Parlor Games

I didn't feel like hanging out with the grownups Saturday morning, so I went to find the children at play.

I'd been telling these kids that I play games, teach game, have lots of games, and so on. This was generally met by skepticism and funny looks by the kids. So mostly this morning, I simply watched to see what they were doing.

It turns out that the games they play today are simply repeats of the same games we've been playing for more than two hundred years.

They played "Broken Telephone", which wasn't called that before the twentieth century, of course, but was played under a different name. Broken Telephone is where a message is passed around a circle to see how garbled it becomes when it gets back to its originator.

They played "Hide the Ring", where one group either passes or pretends to pass an object between them, and then the second group has to guess who really has it.

They played "Red-Light-Green-Light", although they called it something different in Hebrew, and the current name I give the game is also not its original name. One person counts to three and spins around, trying to catch the others sneaking up on him or her. When caught, the caught players must step back three steps.

And so on.

Which doesn't mean that I was no use, at all. I would occasionally suggest some variants to the games. For instance, for Broken Telephone I suggested passing multiple messages simultaneously, in one or opposite directions, to make things a little more challenging. Just one example.

The Real Gaming Begins

Rachel went on another hike on Saturday afternoon, which allowed me to ply my trade.

Actually, I was on my way to rest and read the newspaper, when I passed the same group of children desperately in need of my help. For crying out loud, they were playing War.

I offered, and they accepted. I said, "Wait right here, and Dr Games will return in a moment." I returned with my box of brought games.

One of the girls recognized Apples to Apples, so we played a game of that. Since there were only four players at any one time, I added a random card from the deck on each round. The deck almost won, too.

We tired of that. One of the other girls recognized the game Set, and I sent them along to play with that, asking them to return when they were done. They returned about ten minutes later asking to play something else.

I brought out For Sale and we played first a five-player and then a six-player game of that. They loved it, and asked for another game.

So we played several rounds of Pit, which they also loved. We continued with Pit until Nadine came over to play Puerto Rico with Rachel and me.

Each game, I suggested that they can play on their own, but they wanted me to play with them. All-in-all, I think I finally convinced them that I was serious about games. It was a fun afternoon.

Puerto Rico

I reintroduced Harbor to the game, as in our previous few games nobody had bought the replacement building I usually place there, Large Business. Unfortunately, Harbor proved as unbalancing as it always has been. Nadine overlooked buying it in favor of Factory, and as a result was unable to use her Factory successfully before the shipping points ran out.

I was playing third, and I had a pretty good start. Rachel and my Harbors fed off each other, but I also had coffee in front of Rachel and a few early victory points for third position. So I ended with an easy victory.

Aside from the games, it was a lovely weekend, with nice company, fresh air, and nice accommodations and food. Nadine played a major role in organizing the trip, and we were all grateful to her.


P.S. Jack has a few preliminary sketches up for It's Alive.

1 comment:

Gerald McD said...

Hadn't heard the term Broken Telephone. We called it Gossip, and I recall playing it at my 10th birthday party, lo, many years ago. In fact, it was to teach us a moral, about how false stories get started through gossip.