Monday, December 5, 2011

New Games Kind of World

When our kids were younger, we periodically invited a large group of people over for a New Games festival in our backyard. People of all ages, sizes and shapes would mix together and play a wide variety of unique games. We enjoyed many variations of tag: Octopus--where once people are tagged they become stationary octopuses, waving their arms and providing more obstacles to avoid; Flamingo--you’re only safe if you stand on one leg with your arm under your other leg and the hand of that arm touching your nose; Snake-in-the-grass--everyone gathers around the snake who on the count of three reaches out to touch as many people as possible who all in turn become snakes slithering around catching other people. We held races. An ameba race between teams of about ten people half of whom faced outward and linked arms while the others stood inside the cell wall with a nucleus of one person on top of their shoulders. Knots--groups of about six people would grab hands (couldn’t be two hands of the same person and couldn’t be a person standing next to you). The objective was to get untangled. When people first encountered New Games, many would roll their eyes, thinking the games silly or beneath them. Then after about ten minutes they would be enthusiastically involved and encouraging others to join. New Games provided an enjoyable release from the normal burdens of the day. Who could help but smile when an eight-year old explained the subtle strategy of “Killer” to a forty-year old. In Killer people walk around staring into each others’ eyes. The killer has been secretly selected by the gamekeeper and is unknown to everyone else. The killer kills by winking. When a victim has been “killed” she counts to three, then lets out a blood-curdling scream and falls onto the grass. The objective is to locate the killer, before everyone else is killed. At least three people must simultaneously say, “I accuse,” and point to the correct killer. New Games also provides a good model for life. There are only three rules: Play hard, play fair, nobody hurt. If we could only bring these rules into government, business, academia and use them for how we deal with people throughout the day. Think what we could accomplish and the fun we’d have along the way.

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