Flush it Friday: Playing Around
When I was a lad attending the Koch Brother’s personal think tank, George Mason University, one of my first classes on the history of games opened with a story from the ancient times. A kingdom in famine, stuck with half their usual harvest due to drought, came up with a way to stretch their budget of grains: on one day, the citizens would all eat and work as usual. On the next day, they would stay at home and play games. This continued until the famine was stabilized into a consistent food supply, with folks saving their strength on off-days with the mental stimulation of play. Play which, as a certain Russian naturalist-cum-commie would remind us, is the key of creativity and adaptive problem-solving.
Even the ancients used games as tools of social and narrative import, investing their children with the moral bases of their society and reinforcing them into adulthood. The beauty in these games is their compact theming, tying down the most important cycles of ancient life and compressing them into these memetically spread ludic metaphors. Protecting one’s ruler and running to the safety of allied homesteads when your rival coalition roves for blood. Setting down your crop and in turn leaving the soil fertile for next season, if you can be the one to harvest and keep it safe from scavengers. Being prepared for the setbacks and risks of descending into the netherworld to reach your promised afterlife.
Even when the past is a foreign country, the games can be, in a poetic sense, international. What’s the oldest game you’ve played? What did it mean to you when you played it? How do you think it connected you to our oldest ancestors? Think about it while you update me on your G/B/Us.
The Iron Goddess did some history research of his own, taking a sojourn into labor history with Monstruwacan. Side note: Check out Kim Kelly’s coverage of the ongoing coal miner’s strikes in Alabama that have reached the streets of NYC here!
BSG grits his teeth and gets HxAxRxDxCxOxRxEx with Employed To Serve
Stick your hand in a blender filled with transistors and shredded silicon with Infinite Hax, served up by our own Eenzaamheid
Also, I can’t really think of a subtle way to fold it in but I just want to say that the Aztec ballgame is on its way back and while play seems pretty rudimentary at the moment, I am pretty psyched to see modern people develop the meta-game and unlock the deeper strategic potential because the trappings alone are fucking sick. And now I’m wondering when the next Xibalba album will drop.