Monday, May 04, 2009
Yesterday, I read this. I thought it was good. The concept is this: all games reflect, in someway, life skills that are, or were required as we age. Hide and go seek teaches us to hunt, Duck, duck, goose teaches us to understand the "abilities" pyramid and our place in it, and Capture the flag teaches us casualty, victory and other war-related topics. It's within this dynamic that Svalina crafts a whole series of games meant to teach the reader/player the skills they will need to survive in contemporary culture. Skills like how to alienate the classes, worship celebrities, be afraid, and deal with abandonment the moment you fail.
Most of the instructions are surprising in the best ways. A few never quite fully come together, but even in those rare instances, there is always a rule or two that you are happy to have read. There are also one or two games that stretch for something just out of reach, but keeps stretching nontheless. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this book, though, is just how many of these games seem completely viable...how many of them I wanted to go outside and play, how many of them inspired real, visceral reactions in me.
I'm a sucker for rules (much like Ralphie in "A Christmas Story," "but the bell rang...") and I'm also a sucker for Mathias Svalina. You should be too...