Before television, people used to tell stories with words.
A good story is more powerful than a good movie, because a movie forms the images for you. Everyone's visual experience of a movie is the same. Since everyone is different, only a few of the viewers, if any, will see something that really strikes them on an emotional level.
With a good story, told by a good teller, each person creates their own images in their imagination. As a result, each person's experience of the story is different, and suited especially to them on a deep level. Furthermore, a storyteller creates a present human connection; he or she can vary the pace or content based on the circumstances and audience. And there is something uniquely warm about the presence of another human being, rather than the cold glass of a screen.
Just as I'm an amateur everything else, I'm an amateur storyteller. I used to tell my children improvisational stories every night before bedtime, and now I do it for my nieces and nephews, or visiting children.
One book I've had since college that is a good resource for learning storytelling is Awakening the Hidden Storyteller: How to Build a Storytelling Tradition in Your Family by Robin Moore, a professional storyteller. It's a bit hippy-dippy, but it covers a lot of essential elements of a how to tell a story.
People are afraid to tell stories because they think it has to be perfect and incredible. But storytelling doesn't have to be anything like that. Just look at Little Bear. There's nothing to the stories, but kids love to hear them, because they are warm and comfortable, slightly humorous, slightly mischievous, and full of love.
Healing Words Peace Festival
This week we have some guests from Scotland staying with us, a woman and her son. She is working on becoming a professional storyteller, and is going to Gate to Humanity: Healing Words Peace Festival, May 22nd-26th 2007 in the Galil. It's an interfaith conference, Jews, Arabs, Bedouins, Christians, and it sounds amazing.
Last night we had dinner together, and for dessert, she told us the fox story from The Little Prince, probably one of the best stories ever written. Rachel followed with a midrashic story, and I followed with one of my own stories.
I also played two games with the son. First I trounced him in a game of Chess, and then I introduced him to, and beat him in, a game of Yinsh. Don't think for a second that he wasn't a bright kid just because I beat him twice. He picked up Yinsh right away, and it was a close game. I expect the next one to be much harder.
An Australian homeless youth turned his life around and made a board game about it, called Another Day, Another Dollar.
The Telegraph reports that Games Workshop, makers of Warhammer and other games, is having a rough time. Partly due to basing its business plan around ephemeral popular culture.
Slate talks about how computers are going to remain best at Chess, but takes care to note that this doesn't mean "computers beat humans", only that "humans who program computers beat humans".
Toby Falconer points out that the Hat and Feathers Bar in London is now hosting board game related events every Saturday.
The Inheritance Bible game, which I noted before, is holding contests purportedly giving away $11,000 in cash.
Oman's Student Gamer 2007 contest is underway. You can see the ten entries to the contest here. You can also vote for your favorite by SMS.
And, following on the heels of the Hamas Mickey Mouse television program which featured little kids and the Disney icon promising to blow themselves up to kill Jews, the latest issue of Al-Fateh magazine includes a Snakes and Ladders game for kids. How cute. The snakes are Israeli soldiers with snake bodies and tongues, and your job is to get your stone-throwing child first to the Dome of the Rock.