Examples of Games in the Context of Their Civilization

Games hold a mirror to civilization. In the Afghan game of buzkashi, groups of fierce horsemen contend in a no-holds-barred struggle for possession of a beheaded calf. The object is to carry off the slippery carcass, defending it against all challengers, and bring it around the field to the goal. As Jacob Bronowski explains in The Ascent of Man, 'The tactics are pure Mongol, a discipline of shock... what seems a wild scrimmage is in fact full of manoeuvre, and dissolves suddenly with the winner riding clear to score.' These players are, in essence, carrying on the tribal traditions of the mounted nomads who once struck terror into the Middle East and eastern Europe, 'the culture of conquest; the predator posing as hero because he rides the whirlwind.

Though the modes of gamesplay tend to remain constant, their symbolism is often influenced by contemporary events, particularly by the poHtics of the day, During the Napoleonic Wars, for example, chess sets were made showing Napoleon as General, Napoleon as First Consul, Napoleon as Emperor - always. of course, with the Corsican assuming the position of the white king. The famous game of goose is one of those that has responded most spectacularly to the stimulus of historic events. Many of these spiral race games were produced during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as a means of teaching children history, geography, scripture, botany, and other subjects. The goose game might incorporate the rise and fall of nations or statesmen, the victories and defeats of military leaders, or the development of new inventions, especially in the field of transportation. Shortly after the first airplanes had started to fly, people began playing the first 'aerial' game of goose, in which the players raced around a map of Europe with little model aircraft, mirroring in make-believe events the great technological achievements that were then taking place in the real world. heedless to say, rockets to the moon have long since been called into play.

Some of the most fascinating of primitive games are known in virtually every part of the globe, yet their local variations tell us a great deal about the nature of the particular culture to which they have been adapted. One of these universal games is cat's cradle, known in Africa, Asia, Europe, the western hemisphere, the Pacific... The Eskimos have several favorite games: one of them is cat's cradle. The player narrates a story at each stage, and in this fashion the legends of the Innuit (Eskimo) have been handed down unaltered from generation to generation: the individual string figures are a way of helping the storyteller remember his tales - a mnemonic device. The figures represent birds, kayaks, sledges, bears, foxes, and other features of Arctic life. Farther south, the Navaho Indians of the southwestern United States make string figures representing tents, coyotes, rabbits, and constellations of stars. In New Guinea they symbolize spears, drums, palm trees, fishes, and crabs. Each people has its own figures, taken from its own environment; each has its own set of values and traditions associated with the game. Some Eskimos believe in a 'spirit of cat's cradle,' and over-indulgence in the game may put a player in the spirit's power: hence, moderation in all things I


Folksonomies: history culture gaming

/society/work/unemployment (0.500294)
/travel/tourist destinations/france (0.404993)
/society/unrest and war (0.368107)

spiral race games (0.973505 (:0.000000)), little model aircraft (0.951790 (:0.000000)), individual string figures (0.944447 (:0.000000)), great technological achievements (0.940769 (:0.000000)), southwestern United States (0.929492 (:0.000000)), Civilization Games (0.881440 (:0.000000)), Afghan game (0.879105 (:0.000000)), no-holds-barred struggle (0.872445 (:0.000000)), goose game (0.869567 (:0.000000)), fierce horsemen (0.865657 (:0.000000)), beheaded calf (0.863156 (:0.000000)), wild scrimmage (0.861582 (:0.000000)), slippery carcass (0.859909 (:0.000000)), famous game (0.859571 (:0.000000)), Jacob Bronowski (0.856988 (:0.000000)), universal games (0.849559 (:0.000000)), eastern Europe (0.849501 (:0.000000)), make-believe events (0.849436 (:0.000000)), gamesplay tend (0.849365 (:0.000000)), primitive games (0.847866 (:0.000000)), contemporary events (0.847765 (:0.000000)), pure Mongol (0.846877 (:0.000000)), tribal traditions (0.846415 (:0.000000)), Middle East (0.846225 (:0.000000)), historic events (0.845113 (:0.000000)), Napoleonic Wars (0.844302 (:0.000000)), chess sets (0.843956 (:0.000000)), white king (0.843175 (:0.000000)), favorite games (0.842674 (:0.000000)), military leaders (0.838933 (:0.000000)), new inventions (0.836952 (:0.000000)), real world. (0.836438 (:0.000000)), nineteenth centuries (0.835229 (:0.000000)), particular culture (0.834303 (:0.000000)), Navaho Indians (0.834106 (:0.000000)), western hemisphere (0.833049 (:0.000000)), local variations (0.830673 (:0.000000)), mnemonic device (0.830075 (:0.000000)), great deal (0.829077 (:0.000000)), palm trees (0.826167 (:0.000000)), Arctic life (0.824781 (:0.000000)), New Guinea (0.822637 (:0.000000)), Eskimos (0.760875 (:0.000000)), cat (0.753887 (:0.000000)), field (0.746495 (:0.000000)), players (0.745785 (:0.000000)), people (0.739087 (:0.000000)), player (0.737856 (:0.000000)), generation (0.736868 (:0.000000)), spirit (0.736805 (:0.000000))

Napoleon:Person (0.754764 (:0.000000)), Europe:Location (0.753591 (:0.000000)), rockets:Organization (0.587416 (:0.000000)), Jacob Bronowski:Person (0.574140 (:0.000000)), Middle East:Location (0.526653 (:0.000000)), United States:Location (0.472260 (:0.000000)), spears:Person (0.469938 (:0.000000)), Africa:Location (0.439805 (:0.000000)), Asia:Location (0.391003 (:0.000000))

String figure (0.935864): dbpedia_resource
Jacob Bronowski (0.901696): dbpedia_resource
Europe (0.788224): dbpedia_resource
The Ascent of Man (0.751505): dbpedia_resource
Game (0.676928): dbpedia_resource
Napoleonic Wars (0.672646): dbpedia_resource
Cat\'s cradle (0.663452): dbpedia_resource
France (0.658023): dbpedia_resource

 Games of the World: How to Make Them, How to Play Them, How They Came to Be
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Holt, Rinehart, Winston (1975), Games of the World: How to Make Them, How to Play Them, How They Came to Be, Plenary Publications International, New York, Retrieved on 2018-07-27
Folksonomies: games board games