Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Childhood Games

The topic this morning on Mix FM's Ping Pong was "games you played as a child". It made me recall the many games I played when I was young. Here are some:

Primary School:

Catching. This is one of the earliest and most common game of all. There are many versions. The most creative one is where there is one 'catcher' and the 'catcher' will try to catch the others, the 'catchees' in a defined area of play. Once the 'catcher' manages to touch one of the 'catchees', she must then stand still. If one of the other free-moving 'catchees' manages to rescue the still one by touching her, then she is free to run about again. If the 'catcher' manages to 'still' all of the catchees, then the game is over and can be started all over again by choosing a new catcher. 'Catchers' are usually chosen by having all the players put out a foot each to form a circle, then someone chanting "whose shoe is a dirty shoe, please go home and wash your shoe and come back to school on monday!", tapping a foot on every syllable (the one landed with the last syllable becomes The One; or, is striked out, and the remaining one becomes The One). Sometimes, instead of "whose shoe is a dirty shoe", we'd use (while swinging our hands left and right in a fanning motion) "lat-ta-li-lat-ta-li-tam-plung!" and everyone place a hand out, either palms up or down, and the odd one out is either striked out, or be The One. If all were striked out except 2, then The One is determined by "jus" (rock, scissors, paper, or rock, water bird). Another version of catching, far more confusing, is where the role of the 'catcher' is transferred immediately and unceremoniously upon someone being caught. When the group playing is considerably large (> 6 or 7 people), at any time, and everyone's running around like mad, it's hard to tell who is the 'catcher'!

5 stones. This is a game which I preferred, and excelled, because I don't run very fast, and don't last very long running. We used small, square beanbags filled not with beans but rice or sand. The main action is to toss a beanbag into the air, pick another up from the floor, then catch the tossed beanbag as it falls. There are also many versions of the game. The simplest would be to throw all 5 beanbags to the floor, pick one to be tossed, then collect all others one by one through the tossing-and-picking process. Once all are collected, the player 'weighs' by holding all 5 beanbags on her palm, toss them up lightly, turn her palm downwards and let as many land on the back of her hand as possible. Then, toss them again and catch as many as possible by turning the palm upwards. The number of beanbags caught in the 'weighing' determine a player's scores. If a player can catch tossed beanbags palms downwards (grabbing them from the top as they fall) then each beanbag caught is worth 2 points! More sophisticated versions come with 7 or 10 stages, where in each stage, different 'stunts' have to be performed. I remember one was picking the beanbags (stage 1) 1-by-1, (stage 2) 2-by-2, followed by (stage 3) 1 then 3, (stage 4) all 4. Then there is this where the player takes 2 in her hand, tosses one up and exchanges the other with another on the floor. I quite regret that I can't remember them all. Of course, if a player fails to catch a falling beanbag, or touches more than 1 beanbag on the floor while picking one up, or happen to toss a beanbag so close to herself that her hand comes in contact with her body when catching it (called 'carry baby'), she commits a foul, and has to pass the turn to the next player.

Champion / Galah Panjang. Different groups of kids call this differently. Basically, there are two teams, one which will attempt to traverse the game area from front to back and back to the front again, the other team to block them. The 'blocking' team members stand a few meters apart, forming 'levels' that the other team's members have to overcome. If in the process of getting past a level, a player gets touched by the blocker, the team loses and then the two teams will exchange roles for the next round. Because this game requires even number of players, if there is an odd number of people wanting to play, someone (the odd one out) will become what we call a 'lelong', which is a free-moving entity in the game, and does not belong to either team. The 'lelong' can then help or disturb the players as she wishes. I remember it was quite fun being the 'lelong', really.

Getah. This is like playing skipping, but in a group, using a long elastic rope made of rubber-bands strung together. Two persons will hold the rubber rope at the two ends while the rest jump over it. The levels are ankle-, knee-, hip-, waist-, and neck-high. For heights at the hip and below, the player cannot touch the rope while jumping over it, whereas for the rest, the player can touch the rope. For the neck-high level, most people (myself included, definitely) cannot make it, but I had a friend who will cartwheel herself over. No one can beat her at this game!

Buaya. This is a self-invented game of me and my group of friends when we were we were less than 10 yrs old. Our school at that time stood on top of a hill and had many gentle slopes covered with soft, green grass around it. We'd choose a slope with level ground above and below, and the above level would be 'land' and the level below the 'river'. Some players will be 'people' while others are 'buaya' (crocodiles) in the river. The 'crocs' will attempt to pull the 'people' down to the 'river' and remaining people on 'land' have to try to rescue their species-mate while at the same time try not to be pulled in by the 'crocs'. The game is a massive tug-of-war with lots of rolling down the slope.

AEIOU. We'd choose a flight of stairs outdoors with many steps, and everyone will begin at the bottom step. One person (The One) will stand at the top of the stairs backfacing the others. The game begins by The One calling out a letter of the alphabet, and the rest climbing the stairs a number of steps equal to the number of that letter in their names. After a fixed number of letters (5, I think), all the players will run up the stairs towards The One, until one of them touches her. Then, everyone wil turn back and run down the stairs as fast as possible before The One turns back and calls them to stop. Then, everyone must stand still, and The One will try to guess who was the one who touched her. This game is somewhat hazardous, as it involves so much of running up and down the stairs, but during my time, the adults pretty much didn't bother about what we children did at school :P

Teng-teng. This game has a proper name, but I don't know it. We'd draw, using a piece of chalk, squares of different sizes on the floor - a square, followed by twin square, and another square etc. Each player takes a small stone and begin at the first square, then we take turns at hopping with a foot in each square (land on one foot if it's a single square, and two feet if it's twin squares). Once a person got from one end to the other end and back, she will pick up her stone and throw it to the next square. No one can step on any squares with stones in it, so if there are stones in consecutive squares, one needs to make a big leap to the subsequent available square.

Role Play. When I was 8, I spent my afternoons after school at my friend's place, where I would have my lunch and then spend the rest of the afternoon playing with her until my mother came back from her school. Once, we role-played scenes from the then-famous Hong Kong drama series "Shang Hai Tan" and one of us be the mob Boss and the other the Sidekick. At that time, my friend was like 6 or 8 inches taller than me (perhaps she still is!) so naturally she became the Boss, and I the Sidekick. Then her uncle, wanting to have a little fun teasing us, commented that such a small Sidekick would not be able to protect the Boss in the event of a fight. My dominant friend then put me in the role of Boss and became the Sidekick herself. Her uncle then commented again that it is not right for the Boss to be smaller than the Sidekick, because Boss should be the biggest. So we switched roles again, and then again and again because of her uncle's comments. Gosh, weren't we stupid or what! (On a sidenote, that uncle of hers was a real child-teaser, though not in a bad way - once, when we expressed interest in doing Lion Dance, he actually took a big and heavy wooden dining chair and gave it to me to hold upright above my head, because "that's how heavy the Lion head is"!) When my sister and I were very young, we'd role-play scenes from "Journey to the West". Since there are just two of us, we could only take on the two most significant characters, the monk "Tang San Zhang" and the first disciple, monkey-god "Sun Wu Kong". We had to keep switching roles because the 'monk' got to drape on a blanket (as the monk's robe) and each wanted the blanket (don't know what's so attractive about wearing a blanket!). With our cousins (mostly girls) at our father's hometown, we'd role-play "Ms Hong Kong" beauty pageant. We loved this game because we got to "decorate" ourselves with towels, small blankets and the likes. One of us would be the 'emcee' and the 'participants' would have 'cat-walk' sessions, questions-and-answers, and even talent category. It was crazy. Once, my cousins and I recorded on tape a 'radio show' where we had talk-shows, call-in contests, news (where my incredibly imaginative cousin actually 'reported' an accident between a motorbike and an airplane!) and yes, even commercials (we sang "Minum Milo anda jadi sihat dan kuat!").

Secondary school:

Bingo. Each draw a 5x5 table and put at random, numbers bewteen 1 - 25, inclusive, in each box in the table. Then, each player calls out a number [1-25] and everyone playing will shade that number in their own tables. The first person to get 5 shades boxes in a row wins!

No Name Game. Of course this game has a name - I just simply can't remember it. Each player prepares a table with several columns each labeled with a different category of nouns such as 'country', 'colour', 'fruits' etc. At each round, a person (all players take turn at this) suggests a letter of the alphabet, and everyone needs to write a noun beginning with that letter under each category in the columns. After that, players with unique nouns get 20 points per word, and if more than 1 wrote the same word, each get 10 points.

Killer. OK, this game is really cool. We'd pool several 20 sen coins of different years and select a particular year each round as the 'killer', say year 1990. Then each player picks a coin out of the pool and the person who got the coin with '1990' on it becomes the 'killer'. No one can speak during the game and no one will know who the 'killer' is until she begins to 'kill', which she does by blinking her eyes twice when in eye-contact with another player. A player after being 'killed' must remain silent and not give away the identity of the 'killer'. Only a still 'alive' player can identify and expose the killer, through observation. A good 'killer' must then 'kill' all the other players before anyone discovers her identity.

I can't think of anymore right now. Friends, if you do remember more, please leave a note and remind us all :)

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