Play Journal: w00t vol. 1 – Childsplay

by Thom Kiraly

As if the Nordic Game Conference + Nordic Game Party + Arabic Game Jam opening night weren’t enough, I also attended the Copenhagen Play Festival – w00t (that’s the actual name of the thing, not just me going “w00t“). I only attended the first day of this amazing event (thanks for the invitation, Amani!), but that gave me plenty of wonderful play experiences to think and write about. There were so many of them, in fact, that I split this up into two (EDIT: three) posts. In this, the first one, I write about the short play session I hosted, a session of traditional Danish games I played in and one other kids game.

 – MALMÖ PLAY CLUB SESSION (hosted by me) –

Sausages/Pølse (x2) – A game I picked up from Hide & Seek’s Sandpit booklet. Whatever question anyone asks you, you’re only allowed to answer: “Sausages”. If you laugh, you’re out. I played it twice, once in English and once in Danish. The Danish game was interesting because it had kids in it and anything gets more unpredictable when kids are part of the mix. Also, the Danish word for sausage, “pølse”, is a lot more fun to say than its English counterpart. I’m shit at this game and always get kicked out right away, but I enjoy asking bizarre questions and seeing how people handle them.

Monster chase game – This is a pretty basic game of tag, with the twist that whenever the person who’s it tags someone, the tagged person also becomes it. The ones who are it in this game are to behave as monsters; screaming, shouting, waving arms around etc. and chase people around until everyone’s a monster. It’s so basic that it’s hard to miss with this one, but, for me, the monster part makes it more engaging than a regular game of tag.

Pig game – The Pig Game is something I picked up at this year’s Knutepunkt and I wrote about it in the journal entry from that weekend. Once again, when it comes to games where you’re not supposed to laugh, I’m not very good at not laughing. However, it was interesting to see the dynamics of the play group since it consisted mostly of parent-child couples with the parents and children targeting each other.

Kids playing at w00t – photo by Tommy Rousse

– TRADITIONAL DANISH GAMES –

After her talk, Mille Matjeka organized a play session wherein she focused on traditional Danish games. Some of them were games which used to be played by people on farms etc. The underlying theme were games with a more or less democratic structure; games where a winner and a loser weren’t necessary for players to enjoy themselves. In all of the competitiveness, this was a nice change of pace.

Flirting/Sound-matching game – Everyone stands in a circle and joins hands. The players then look around the circle and try to make eye contact with someone as well as get them to copy a facial expression (often a wink of varying degrees of silliness) they’re making. Once they’re in sync, they hurry to switch places with each other shouting “Kissepuss!”. We also played some variations on this wherein we replaced the winks with sounds or associative wordplay.

Her kommer vi! – Two groups make up animals to mime in front of the each other. When they do, the ones being mimed at (to? for?) shout out guesses of what animal it is. If they’re correct, the mimes run back to their base. The ones who are caught join the chasers and the chasers become mimes. And so on.
We were told not to run as to not hurt ourselves, but most people ended up doing it anyway. I would have liked it if we would have been able to play on grass where we wouldn’t have had to worry about getting hurt. I’ll try this in a park sometime.

Zombie Game – Two players lie on the ground while everyone else joins hands and walk in a circle around them (a lot of joining hands in this play session, BTW. Not that I dislike it, though). The players forming the circle makes the church bell striking twelve times and the players in the centre wake up as undead. From here, the game is similar to the monster chase game I mentioned earlier. The main difference is that the undead need to help each other in making new undead by joining hands around a tagged player and repeating a chant.
It’s always a blast getting to act like a zombie, especially with kids around.

Pictured: not a game I’ve written about in this post – photo by Tommy Rousse

– OTHER STUFF –

The Bull at the Red Sea – 1-3 players are bulls, held prisoners by the other players. These other players hold a rope and stand in a circle. The bulls try to catch the people holding the rope, but these people are allowed to let go of it at any time. However, if the rope ever touches the ground, the bulls are free to chase anyone until all bulls are replaced (or whatever).
This was a really good kids game. The got into it like crazy and I suspect this contributed to the one drawback of this game: people getting hurt. No one got injured, but the were a couple of bruises — I fell over in a most graceful manner, for example. One kid in particular kept going all out as a bull and getting catapulted backwards and into the ground, head first, as the rope snapped back when it was released by the people trying to avoid being tagged. Poor kid. Saw him later in the day, though, and he seemed happy as ever.

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