Friday, September 19, 2008

Games & Society Class Plays Calvinball

Calvin and HobbesImage via WikipediaWe're studying a lot of different kinds of games in the Introduction to Games & Society class this semester. And we're studying them for a variety of reasons.

One Friday we went outside to play Calvinball - created by Calvin, the little boy who played with his stuffed tiger friend in the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip written by Bill Waterson. Here's a link to the Wikipedia page about the strip. Here is a link to the official rules of Calvinball.

The rule structure of Calvinball is why I chose for us to play this particular game. The basic rule is that anyone can change the rules and they don't have to tell the other players if they don't want to. This rule leads to chaos and sometimes great fun. I pointed out to the students after class that to many non-gamers, videogames seemed as random and hard to grasp as Calvinball did to the students. And hopefully they also grasped the fact that ou can't give the player total freedom over the structure of the game because it will not be fun for everyone.

Here are some pictures of our game. They're wearing masks because that's one of the rules of the game - and as it says on the official rules, no one questions the mask. Some have on orange vests (that we borrowed from a group on campus who volunteers to clean a stretch of highway). We had a collection of balls and nerf darts. We even had a couple of kiddie golf clubs. The only rule I put into play was not to hit the buildings with our balls - and this rule they couldn't change. I didn't want to disturb the other classes.

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