Thursday, February 14, 2008

The History of the New Games Foundation

Update: 2018/2020 Both Rose/nee’ Pat Farrington and John O'Connell wrote to me many years after this article was published to indicate that there are several major problems with it. I attempted to make corrections, but I think that there may be more corrections than article. As a result, I am taking the article down until corrections can be made.


Play Hard. Play Fair. Nobody Hurt.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great post! I took a class in New Games in College (1988-ish) and had a minor is "Leisure activities" (because supposedly we were all going to be working fewer hours because of automation :)

It was an interesting review...

Jan said...

Well done! I was a trainer for the New Games Foundation from 1976 - the closing of the organization. I came home to Iowa with a New Games equipment bag and lots of memories. If anyone is interested I have a file full of New Games memorabilia including the in-house newsletter, The Tundra Topics. I can even tell you the genesis of the the title!

If it matters, I believed in what we were doing and am still draw inspiration from the power of play.

If anyone knows how to contact Nancy Miller please let me know.


Darryl said...

Hi... thanks for recording the history.
Way back in 1975 Pat Farrington visited Australia and introduced us to the new games concept. A few friends and I got together and started doing new games events at festivals and fetes and in training sessions for teachers and scout and guide leaders. New Games became the hallmark of one of our most successful healthy lifestyle campaigns called "Life, be in it" (I think Pat Farrington actually coined that phrase).
I am a corporate people skills trainer and still use the new games philosophy in my training sessions. My younger brother eventually set up an event company, now called "Bubbling with Energy", and based the company's philosophy on "new games". However, in recent years, like the New Games Foundation, and despite no injuries, public liability insurance increases forced him to stop using earthballs and parachutes at events, and go for so called "safer" items. But the philosophy still lives on in our hearts and minds and we promote cooperative play and "play hard, play fair, with nobody hurt" whenever we can.
I would love to hear from any fellow new gamers.

Jesse Weinstein said...

Thank you very much for this post, and for your research. I bought a copy of the New Games Book from some random bookstore in Los Angeles some years ago, and was always very impressed with the ideas and games in it -- although I've not yet found folks to play them with me! I wondered what had happened to the Foundation, and the New Games ideas. Thanks again for your summary.

BTW, I've made a copy of it with WebCite, here: -- just in case your blog goes away sometime.

Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews said...

The New Games were everywhere when I was a kid—my gym class even busted out a parachute sometimes! Later on a lot of the New Games resurfaced for me in the Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) movement. I wonder if TO's founder Augusto Boal had the New Games books or if both organizations were just drawing from similar traditions.

Kevin F said...

For those that knew Pat Farrington from New Games I'll just let you know she is doing very well at age 77, still living in Northern California and about to release a book on sustainable living. She has kept true her entire life to worthy causes born of the promises of 1960's and 1970's, many of the effects of which we now take for granted in our more modern times. As Pat's son I got to personally know Andrew, Burton, and George and was sorry to find out later in life about their passing. They were truly exceptional men.

- Kevin

guyal said...

Just read the New Games Book, after it lay on my stack of "Random Game Dev Books I Need To Read" for a few years. As I'm currently looking for inspiration for first person video games that can be intense without being just about "shoot everything that moves", this was a good read.

Johann Sebastian Joust fits in a Modern New Games Movement discussion somewhere.

Dale Le Fevre said...

Thank you for including me in your blog, since I was one of the founding members of New Games, if not there precisely at the start. There were a number of points which I would like to address. The first is that Pat (now called Rose) Farrington was initially much more than a periferal figure since she embodied the spirit of New Games and did a lot to get the Foundation established by devotedly putting out the word about New Games. As for me, I felt I have done that as well and continue to do so over the past 40 years, even though now semi-retired.

As far as "using the terms, branding, and trademarks of the New Games Foundation; I don't think with permission, but I'm not entirely sure." I have implicit permission. When the Foundation was dissolved in 1983, those of us who were trainers were encouraged by the Board of Directors to carry on the New Games tradition, using any of the New Games information to do so.

I have lived in Sheffield, England, for the past 10 years and my email is .

I have written "a number of new books on the subject of New Games, including: New Games for the Whole Family [in revised form now called The Spirit of Play] (which uses the same look and feel as the two Foundation books...)" with subtle yet important differences: the pictures are much more balanced with a variety of players, including a much greater cultural and racial mix, and with many special needs people; as opposed to the original NG books, the first of which I was instrumentally involved in creating, and which featured big equipment items, this book has no equipment that is required. Best New Games - I am the sole author.

The videos have now been made into 5 DVDs, and with the books are all available at .

Playfully, Dale N. Le Fevre

Yehuda Berlinger said...

Hey, Dale. Good to hear you're still around. Thank you for your corrections and insights.

Apparently email addresses and URLs get cut out of comments here automatically, so I still don't have a contact for you. Please email me at the email address listed on my site (let's try: shadejon at In the contact info on your site correct?

All the best,

sheila said...

I was the shipping clerk at the New Games Foundation 1977-79 and a referee. I was in a couple of the photos in the second book. I was in my late teens at the time. If you bought boffers, earth balls (including paints), books, etc., I'm the one that boxed and wrapped them up.
I didn't make a career of New Games but the philosophy and spirit had a lot to do with how I understand the world now; lifestyle, politics. I STILL believe in what's now called "inclusiveness". I regard Bernie as my first spiritual teacher and still correspond with him. I did my senior project in Nursing school on play and hospitalized children way back in the early 1980's before it was so well known as now. New Games has influenced my politics completely.

That's my step sister jumping joyfully on the cover, by the way. She's still in San Francisco and can be found at Glide a lot.

Doug Spohn said...

Wow, this was fun to come across this blog! I was trained as a referee in 1978. Still have the book, notes, and training roster. I used the New Games learnings and skills professionally for 5 years within a job I had in southern California. Great memories, great philosophy!

Unknown said...

At the center of the lap game here ( is my brother, Lee Rush, who ran a bunch of New Games festivals in the mid-late 1970s. Here's another picture of him as well: Who remembers Prui?

Jack said...

In 1976, while attending ASU I happened upon a New Games festival.It was amazing and I was hooked on the idea of playing hard, fair and without the super competitive bent. A year later, I was hired as a Sports and Games teacher at a summer camp and only taught New Games and a sport that was new - Ultimate Frisbee. I taught for 40 years, even after taking over as director and have always used it while teaching elementary. We just had our Field Day with Disc Golf, Ultimate Frisbee, "Smaug's Jewels and other New Games. While teaching I met my wife - a PE teacher who incorporated New Games into her curriculum. New Games is still the mainstay of our younger classes!