What Games Would Be Played In A Collapsed World?

David Trammel's picture

In a comment to this week's main post I made reference to the 1989 Rutger Howard movie "The Blood of Heroes". Its a kind of simple post apocalypses movie which tells the tale of a young farm girl who wants to make it big. See there is a rather brutal game, like soccer, which involves a team of five against another five, with the objective of scoring a win by putting a dog skull on a spike. The people in the above ground world just trying to survive have local teams. Wandering teams show up to play them. In the surviving underground cities of commerce and wealth, there is the "League". Getting the attention of the League and winning a spot on one of their teams means wealth. The young girl wants that.

"The Blood of Heroes" on IMDB

Justin Patrick Moore made the comment of:

"& Yes, a short story, or scene in a longer work where kids are playing some new kind of game (or adults too for that matter) would be good to help show the culture of a world made harsh."

It made me wonder, what kind of games would people in a resource depleted, climate devastated World come up with? How would one of our current games be modified in such a world? Suggestions might spark an idea for one of our writers here for a story.

Justin Patrick Moore's picture

This post got me thinking about an amazing couple and one of the great books they wrote. "The Lore & Language of School Children" by Iona and Peter Opie. It's available to borrow from Archive.org here https://archive.org/details/lorelanguageof00opie/ but I'd encourage anyone who is interested in the subject of children's games, rhymes, lore, jokes, etc. to pick up a copy. It is focused on Britain but it is still useful -especially if you have esoteric/magical inclinations because there are layers of myth there in the lore. (Wikipedia has some decent info about the couple and there extensive work as folklorists here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iona_and_Peter_Opie )

I think the games of the future will play with the public figures and perhaps some of our pop culture characters in the form of myths, legends, stories. They will be transformed from how we think of them now, and perhaps ecological and ethical lessons will be embedded into the story games and school yard rhymes or nursery rhymes.

Has anyone here read "The Einstein Intersection" by Samuel R. Delany? It is set in a collapsed world full of mutants. They don and use our myths and folklore in strange ways. Delany is one of my favorite SF writers and that is a good place to dip into his ouvre.

In the near term -next few decades- I think Role Playing Games will continue to play a, ahem, roll. D&D has resurged in popularity thanks to tv shows like Riverdale & Stranger Things and the general ascendancy of geek culture. But as TV and Internet fade -how long that will take is a good question- and people have to do with less stimulation RPGs provide a good avenue for imaginative and collaborative storytelling. I can easily visualize a time, during the long winter nights, when a group of people living extended family style, or quasi-communal, gather after a dinner of goat curry soup, to play an RPG. Grampa, may even a kind of Bardic dungeon master. (And I think also of David Trammel's other post about getting a side gig hustle now as a paid dungeon master: http://greenwizards.com/node/815 ). The kind of collaborative storytelling is great entertainment and may even be a way back into something of an oral culture as literacy rates will be sure to drop. JMG is even in on this game with his RPG of the Weird of Hali series in the works.

As for sports I think games involving hitting, kicking balls in some way will always remain popular and I can easily see kids playing some version of baseball in the space between houses that are falling apart and gutted. Lots to think about here, and any element of these in a story, or a story about these games would indeed create a rich fictional world.

(The picture is from the 1940s!)

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David Trammel's picture

Great post Justin, somehow i missed when you posted it.

The book listed here describes thirty categories of traditional children's games, including hundreds of games collected by the researchers.


I wonder if there are just as many categories of computer and video games?

Justin Patrick Moore's picture

Thanks for this. This is a great resource. I'd like to find an American equivalent I'll see what I can dig up at the library.

ClareBroommaker's picture

Yes, isn't that book cool? I saw games and rhymes in it from my own childhood in the southern US. How many generations did they pass though to get to my generation, which is now of grandparent age. Have those games continued on? I think not very much to my own offspring.

"The Complete Book of Games" by Clement Wood and Gloria Goddard, a US publication from 1938, reprinted 1940. Eight hundred ninety four pages of indoor & outdoor games, including multiple versions of various ball games, team sports, card games, party games.

A frontis page says the authors also had other books:
Games for Two
Let's Have a Good Time Tonight: An Omnibus of Party Games
Party Games for Grown-Ups
Contract Bridge for Beginners

I'm also thinking of a book that was popular about thirty years ago. It was a collection of Jump Rope rhymes. A lot of those rhymes got incorporated into dance-like games and clapping games as well.

Justin Patrick Moore's picture

Thanks for the heads up about this book Clare. It looks pretty cool -and I bet a lot of libraries have it. I don't think my own grown kids got many of the school yard rhymes or playing-on-the-street and in-the-woods rhymes as I did. I think girls new more of this stuff... as you said it filtered down into dance and clapping and jump rope games. As a male, I just didn't do those things as much -though I saw and heard the girls doing these things. But there were lots of common shared songs -"on top of old smokey" and the like. I loved those schoolyard & back of the bus songs.

Philosophical Parts and Counterparts:

Materialist = Only matter matters.
Maternalist = Only the Mater matters.
Rationalist = Only Reason matters. Matter does not reason, therefore it isn’t.
Immaterialist = Who the eff cares?

Physicist = Matter hardly matters anymore. We’re looking into dark matter. Besides, matter is only energy anyway. BOR-ing!

Metaphysicist = There is something besides matter. And it matters.

Etherealist = There really are ethers, AND there are live things swimming around in them. So get used to it.

Idealist = Ideas are realler than stuff you can kick. You can’t refute Bishop Berkeley by stubbing your stupid toe.

Spiritualist = Ghosts matter, but so do a lot of other intangible Beings. Avoid demons and Ouija boards if you know what is good for you.

Religious Experientialist = I did TOO! And YOU can’t prove that I DON’T talk to God. So back off, buster.

Naturalist = Trees really matter. And fungi are something else, man! Trees talk via mushroom telephones! No, really. It’s wild out there.

Supernaturalist = You people have no earthly idea just HOW wild it is Out There….Look out! Incoming! Oh, and be sure to check your auras at the door.

Impressionist = Matter is just a bunch of dots in proximate clusters. If you think there is any there there, it’s only an apptical illusion.

Da-daist = Hey! Giraffe bandannas. Quasi-co!

Mentalist = Mind over matter. Way, way over. No mind, no matter. Deal. Also, I know exactly what you are thinking.

InstruMentalist = “Doo-da-beep-daa-dee-dee di-dah doh! Yeah!”

SentiMentalist = Don’t you just LOVE discussing things like this? (bats eyes and smiles sweetly)

Psychologist = The soul speaks. Do you know how to listen? I do.

Jungist = (opens window, captures a beetle and wordlessly displays it to Materialist who screams and faints but then has major breakthrough).

Trocaderoist = A fine chocolate, madame? Very good choice. Sir, one for you? (Materialist scowls and accepts a chocolate bonbon but does not enjoy it. Because enjoyment is not made of matter therefore it does not exist.)

David Trammel's picture

Very good, thank you.