When we were waiting to ride Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin at Disney World, I was surprised to see that the people behind us in line were a couple who appeared to be in their late sixties. They didn't have any children or grandchildren with them. It was just the two of them waiting in line to vanquish space villains. The description of the ride is, "Evil Emperor Zurg is stealing batteries from helpless toys to power a new weapon of destruction. As a Junior Space Ranger, it's up to you to maneuver an XP-37 star cruiser through the neon-lit Gamma Quadrant and fire lasers from an on board cannon to stop him and score points." Nothing in the description is meant to appeal to people over age ten. But, yet there were grandma and grandpa doing finger stretches so they'd be ready for an alien take down.
|Aaaaah! The Lights!|
So, I decided to write a blog post about adults who play children's games and I was going to let loose with some sarcastic, smart-ass comments about old people waiting in a twenty minute line with a bunch of families to play a game targeted at preschool and elementary school aged kids. But, in my first Google images search for "old people playing games" I saw this picture:
|Wii players in a nursing home.|
As I continued to research game playing still quietly hoping to gather ammunition for my manifesto, I kept coming up with evidence to support game-playing into adulthood. But at least if I can't be sarcastic, I can be ironic, and ironically, there is really nothing funny about playing games. The great philosopher Plato observed that "you can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation." Playing relieves stress and allows you to relax while it also may help develop your creativity and problem-solving skills. Why do you think the guys on thirtysomething who ran the ad agency had all those toys in their office?
|I never watched this show, but he was great in "The West Wing."|
Law students, however, haven't had all their creativity stifled, so they can still come up with innovative drinking games in which the ultimate prize is bestowing a middle name on a classmate. Or this game that I stumbled upon amidst the streusel recipes on Pinterest:
|Why doesn't Laskin get his name censored? We don't care if he gets tackled?|
I think this is one game that shouldn't be continued past law school because I could see it being not so funny and possibly illegal to play in, say, Washington, D.C. while working at, say, the White House. Secret Service guys are like airport security and even the security at Disney World in that hilarious jokes about bombs and weapons are not funny to them and can lead to pat downs or "vacations" to Guantanamo Bay.
A recent example of adults playing games is the group of ten men described in this Wall Street Journal article who have been locked in a competitive game of tag for 23 years. It's not just tag, either. I found this blog post written by a guy who formed a group of adults who play four square once a week. He discusses the attraction of the game, "For my friend and me, our playfulness had always been close to the surface, but as we aged, we had to stamp it down for fear of not being taken seriously. It had made us isolate ourselves, but on this night, we found that it connected us with the people around us. It was like magic." I think that might be a smidgen overwrought. I don't know that a love of four square is grounds for self-imposed social isolation. I mean, have you seen any episodes of "My Strange Addiction?" There's a lady who licks her pet cat and a couple who give themselves multiple coffee enemas each day. Four square fandom has nothing on that.
Nathaniel has a sexual relationship with his 1998 Chevy Monte Carlo.
He is also attracted to four-wheelers, jet skis, and airplanes. I just don't...
Okay, so Strange Addiction people, you all need to get help because while I have come around to accepting that adults playing games is a good idea, I will never think that licking your cat is a good idea because, objectively, it is not a good idea.
My guess is that many people have the same initial reaction as I did to adults playing games, because "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story" with Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller works on the assumption that there's something that we find intrinsically silly about adults getting really serious about a game of dodgeball. As an aside, did you all know or remember that Lance Armstrong had a cameo in "Dodgeball?"
|Uh, Vince? Dude, that's my falsified urine sample you're about to drink.|
Kickball is another playground sport that has enjoyed a recent renaissance among adults. Atlanta has a kickball league that promises, "Best Parties. Best Games. Best Friends." Kickball is rung or two up on the ladder from dodgeball, because kickball lacks the sadistic elements of dodgeball which allow children to fully comprehend the tenants of natural selection without knowing a thing about Charles Darwin. I loved playing kickball when I was a kid. The rules are easy to understand and it requires no eye-hand coordination, which was perfect for me. However, even if I were single and looking for some way to meet people, I do not think that I would join a kickball league because I don't think that I would like the people who enjoy kickball enough to join a kickball league. I realize that this makes no logical sense, but I also expect that many of you know what I mean.
Speaking of the hierarchy of games, it confounds me a bit that team sports like kickball and dodgeball are somehow less cool or at least more open to ridicule than softball or touch football. I suppose that softball and touch football require more skill than the other games. Also, you never saw a picture of the Kennedys playing a cutthroat game of kickball at Hyannis Port. If kickball and dodgeball leagues really wanted a p.r. boost, they'd pay that Kennedy kid who was dating Taylor Swift to endorse their sports as Hipster touch football for a new generation of Kennedys.
|Dang it! Hipster kickball is already a thing. All the good ideas are taken.|