This week’s CLMOOC Make Cycle is centered on games, and I’ve been thinking about the game my friend Micah and I played as kids. Actually, it was a less a game than a framework for all the games we played.
That is to say, Micah and I played games within the context of an imaginary world – or rather, two imaginary worlds, since we each had our own. Each world was based on the real world, circa 1987 (it may have started in 1985 or 1986; I’m not sure), with one key difference: Micah and I were both adults instead of kids. (I was a character in Micah’s imaginary world; he was a character in mine). Our games – mainly involving sports and war – took place in one of these imaginary worlds, and the worlds diverged from the real world as a result. (I know that sports and war are horribly stereotypical for boys – in our defense, San Diego was a military town, and Micah’s dad was in the Navy. I still know the basic map of the Mediterranean, incidentally, from playing the Avalon Hill board game Sixth Fleet – but I’m getting ahead of myself here.)
Although we were precocious children, we didn’t quite have a name for what we were doing, so we called it our “thing.” Micah’s world was “your thing,” and mine was “my thing.”
Here’s an example of how “my thing” would work. When no one else was home, I played a solo version of baseball that involved trying to pitch a tennis ball between a concrete curb and the fence of the parking lot where I lived. The play was based on the ricochet of the ball, with rules that we developed over time. (I say “we” because we sometimes played a two-person version, with a pitcher and a fielder.)
I used this game during the baseball season to run the National League in “my thing.” Let’s say I was manager of the Padres that year, or a player on the team. I’d start the day by checking the sports page to see who San Diego was playing. Padres at Reds, 4:30 pm? Ok. I’d play that game in the parking lot, and the result would go into my “standings.” Next day, I’d check the results of the other games – Dodgers over Braves, Mets over Cubs, and so forth – and I’d update my standings to reflect both the result for “my team” and the actual results from the other games.
If we had time, we’d play multiple games, and incorporate those into the standings. If I were sick and my mom foolishly insisted that I stay inside and skip the day’s game, then I’d use the actual results as a back-up. Micah kept his own standings, too.
Once, when Micah and I were on the same team, we won the World Series. We ran upstairs and asked my mom if we could pour water on ourselves, to simulate the champagne celebrations we had seen on TV. Our imaginations could turn water into (sparkling) wine , but my mom, again succumbing to the adult tendency not to understand anything about how things are supposed to go, said no.