130: Dawn of Games

Dawn of Games

"As cultures progressed and conflict between tribes became more common, the games would have become focused on more specific survival and combat skills. One such game, 'Wana,' was played by the young girls. A short stick representing a baby would be placed on the ground, and one girl would protect it while the rest of the girls pretended to try and murder it with their wanas (digging sticks). Another game played by young boys, 'Kalq,' involved using throwing sticks to throw and deflect a spear toward the player's opponents."

Corvus Elrod looks at the games played by tribal societies.

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I liked this article. Kids don't play outside enough anymore, so I wonder if this article is wasted on some of the younger readers. I guess that would be another story altogether! :)

If you realy think about it, you can see that if there could be a game that would emulate this "sandbox" expirience (all pun intended)into it's gameplay mechanics, it realy would be the next best thing after sliced bread.

Just look how annoyingly popular Wii is, not because of the graphics or mindbogling AI, but because it brought some of the play back in gameplay, AND EVERYONE PLAYS IT!

Corvus may want to do a little more exploration into history before writing this type of article. Early societies typically had a *lot* of free time. More-so than we do today, in fact, because when you're not trying to earn enough to pay for your internet, the newest books, the newest games, the newest graphics card, the new car, the large house with underfloor heating and wireless connectivity, the latest fashion, the upcoming promotion, etc. subsistence level survival, shelter, and clothing doesn't actually take a lot of time unless you're living somewhere with a harsh climate.

In these climes (such as the Inuit) it makes perfect sense that games were devoted more toward teaching survival skills, in easier climes, however, many games were devoted to strengthening the bonds within tribal groups and providing meaning to people's lives. Take a look back at the Aztec game of Tlachtli and Patoli for example. Not played for survival purposes at all, these games were played for their religious significance. Talk about getting into the "Zone".

It's kind of funny, but the serious games movement is just finally starting to bring us back into the idea of games having deeper meanings. We lost that during the dark ages and puritanical times when the church gained significant control and popularized the idea of God = Guilt, relegating fun to, at best, wasteful, and more likely sinful behavior. Only now, as we grow increasingly secularized, are we re-realizing that fun can be more than just fun.

I think we're looking at slightly different eras, Kwil. The Aztec, Maya and Inca civilizations were quite advanced compared to the cultures I'm speculating about here. I'm referring to older, more primitive, cultures that did spend a lot of their time and energy on survival. By extrapolating from the games played by the Inuit and Australian aboriginals, I'm imagining what it must have been like before we started building walls and planting crops.

I had also proposed (and probably will still write some day) an article on the origins of card games within the tarot, a subversive religious text, and the place of sacred games, or ludi, within Roman culture.

Kwil:
Take a look back at the Aztec game of Tlachtli and Patoli for example. Not played for survival purposes at all, these games were played for their religious significance. Talk about getting into the "Zone".

It's kind of funny, but the serious games movement is just finally starting to bring us back into the idea of games having deeper meanings. We lost that during the dark ages and puritanical times when the church gained significant control and popularized the idea of God = Guilt, relegating fun to, at best, wasteful, and more likely sinful behavior. Only now, as we grow increasingly secularized, are we re-realizing that fun can be more than just fun.

Never let it be said I'm above shameless self promotion. Editing Corvus' article was especially fun this time, because it was cool to see him look at games with a different purpose than what I investigated a few months back.

Joe, you're above shame... less.. self... pro...

Oh wait. No you're not.

When we talk about these games, aren't we essentially talking about school? I imagine kids spent some time learning by doing, but for those activities that you couldn't experience on demand (such as being chased by a predator, or participating in a tribe war) a game was the next best thing.

If you're conflating "school" with "learning", then yes. I'm always amused to read educational reports that indicate students retain information more effectively when they learned it in a playful manner. I believe that learning by playing is pretty hardwired into all life, not just humans.

CorvusE -- anyone who has had a kitten can see that "play" and "learning survival skills" seem to be pretty closely related.

Cats are relatively advanced creatures, though. The mammal brain probably has playtime across the board.

I don't believe that insect brain has the concept of play, and I doubt the reptile brain has it either.

As birds seem to be playful creatures by nature(or at least the bigger birds are), we may be able to extrapolate that hatchling velociraptors played tag with each other along with other survival games.

 

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