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"This is the most exciting day of my life...and I was pulled on stage once to dance at a Bruce Springsteen concert."
30 Rock


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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Write Back Weekend "Games People Play"

First off, a happy Father's Day to all you father's out there. It's a day I've shared with fathers everywhere for sometime now, so in a way, it's the gift that keeps on giving!

On Tuesday I asked you about your favorite childhood games. Now it's time to read about some of my own...

For me, childhood games often relied heavily on my own creativity. This was because I am an only child and there often weren't other people around to play games with. A lot of times I would simply take games I played with my friends and adapt them to be one player games. If you think it sounds sad in theory, you would be right.

For example, with my friends I loved to play Barbies. We would put all the clothes and dolls in a pile and throw them up to see who got what. As two of my closest friends at the time have since confirmed, they often cheated during this "game", hiding clothes under their legs or peeking to get the best doll. I was an only child so I played fair and square. I did not need this survival tactic from day to day.

When I was by myself though there was no need to argue over the best dolls or clothes because they were all mine. You would think this would somehow make it better, but often it just managed to make it more boring. On some level I think I craved quasi sibling rivalry fights considering it was a novelty to people like me.

Together, my friends and I also liked to play things like restaurant, store and doctor's. These games were extra hard to play by myself without any customers, patrons or patients. This was often when a parent of mine would step in and save the day by ordering something, buying something or "falling ill". It was a nice gesture, but it almost never was the same.

Then there were the creative games only our warped little minds could make up. Mostly these included the theatrical side of ourselves. We played "Kids Incorporated" or "Rags to Riches" where we put all the names of the characters in a hat. Whatever name you pulled was the person whose role you would reenact. No one ever wanted to be Gloria on Kids Incorporated, so we all complained considerably when this happened. In retrospect, it made the game all the more fun.

We also liked to play another game we called "soap opera". It was simple really. Being the soap opera fanatics that we were, we would create a character and act out a dialogue. For some reason I loved to play this game, but my friends never liked it quite as much. I guess I was a drama queen, but only in the most literal sense of the word. Our acting skills also took center stage when we did the radio game. This game was two tiered fun. On one level, we would simply dance to whatever song came on the radio. If it was a great song, you danced your little heart out in a "good" dance. But if it was a bad song, you made fun of it with gusto, not unlike the Gloria performances I mentioned earlier.

On another level we played the radio game in the car. It was like Choose Your Own Adventure books, only with music. Whatever song came on next dicated things that we would do or things that would happen to us or our favorite characters on tv shows cause yes, we were dorks that way.

Then we had the classic pasttimes actual board, card and video games. I used to say only board minds played board games. Still, on a rainy day or with a rowdy group of people, some of these games were lots of fun. Some of our favorites included Sorry, Clue, Aggravation, Spit and even Girl Talk. With video games, I really, truly didn't need anyone else to be entertained. This is why I wasted hours away playing games like Frogger, Ms. Pacman, Super Mario Brothers and The Goonies II. Graphics were much more simplistic back then, but then again, so were the times, so we didn't mind.

Finally we've reached the last milestone phase of my gaming life, outdoor games. These were games that not only required additional people, they usually required lots of them. These games were preferably played outside, later at night, in the summer. They also often involved multiple locations. I'm talking about games like Manhunt, Red Light, Green Light and Red Rover. I saved these games to last because not only has their time passed in my life, their time seems to have passed- period. You hardly ever see kids playing outside nowadays and when they do, they are usually highly structed play dates revolving around specific activites, dates and times. Jump roping and hopscotching has been replaced with text messaging and downloading. Block parties have become extinct. As Madonna one said, this used to be my playground.

Every once and awhile a friend of mine will suggest having a game night and usually I'm all for it. Sure some of the games have changed and alcohol has been added, but the premise remains the same.

Be it nostalgia or the inner child in me still trying to achieve that group game quota, I definitely enjoy playing well with others.



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