Friday, 2 January 2015

Things I don't do anymore: Party games

The earlier posts in this series are: kite-flying, skiing, skating, fishing, archery, mushrooming, celebrating New Year and gambling.

I have a feeling that today's urban children are not familiar with any games that used to be played in streets and backyards when I was a child. Of couse, streets and backyards are dangerous today, but were they less dangerous then or were grownups unaware of the dangers?

I won't go into a long nostalgic account of all ball games and ring games and skipping games that we played as children. What I remember, however, is that many of these were shared between children and grownups, and there was no discrimination between young children and older children. In summer, in the country, every evening would bring children and grownups together for a couple of hours of outdoor games the names of which I don't know in English, but I am sure they are the same all over the world. Maybe this was because there wasn't much else to do: no television, sometimes no electricity. But I also think this was something that was done and isn't done anymore.

On rainy days, and in other seasons back in the city, there were party games, and again nobody was excluded. Birthday parties – not children's, but grandparents', aunts' and uncles' and parents' friends'; family gatherings or any social occasion; there would be charades, “Guess who I am?”, again, I don't know the exact names, but I believe they are universal. The kind of games Facebook invites you to play and share, but it was much more fun to do it live in a large group of mixed ages. For instance, the game leader would say, in a funny rhyme: “Your rich antie has sent you this bag of gold; you can buy whatever you want, don't say yes or no, don't buy black or white”, and the game implied confusing the players with questions to make them say the forbidden words. Or, Associations: think of someone in the room. The other players will ask you what colour you associate this person with, what animal, what season (yes, very Facebook kind of game). Fifteen questions: think of a historical person, and the players will ask questions: Is this person still alive? Did they practice any art? Is there any book by this person in the shelf in this room? Then all kinds of rhyming and drawing games; all kinds of word games (finding as many words as possible from one, very long word, and only nouns in the singular were acceptable).

I played all this well into my twenties, with people both older and younger than myself. By that time, we had both television and record players, but that couldn't compete with party games.

Where did it go and why? I am sure people in Sweden used to play party games, but I have never experienced it in Sweden, beyond the traditional Midsummer dancing. And surely, people in the UK used to play as well. I once tried to offer a game at a party I gave for some grad students, and it was a disaster. They just didn't get it. So I guess the time of play is irreversibly over. 


Unknown said...

Thank you, dear Masha for your blog. Best regards, Milena

Mary-Ann Johnson said...

My family play party games (with adults - the children are still too young to understand the rules). We played "the hat game" at Christmas, and a few rounds of Boggle. In the summer, we played Canasta on holiday too.