Old Games


Today computer games are everywhere — on computers, Microsoft X-Boxes, Sony PlayStations, Nintendo Gameboy and Wii, and even on your cell phones! I can go to the Internet and buy almost any game ever created and have it downloaded to my home computer in a matter of a few minutes, anything from old games like checkers and chess to newer games like Grand Theft Auto, Final Fantasy, Fallout, Master of Orion, and X-Com.

Have you ever tried to imagine what kids did for entertainment 50 years ago when TV was in its infancy and personal computers didn’t yet exist? How did they survive the endless hours of mind-numbing boredom they must have experienced after coming home from school? What did they do on weekends? It must have been horrible!

Well, it wasn’t allthat bad.

Outside Games

For outside games, we would ride our bicycles around the neighborhood or get a group of kids together in our neighborhood and play baseball or football in an open field (soccer wasn’t popular at that time). We also had Hopscotch,Jump Rope, Hide and Seek, and Flashlight Tag. It was in high school thatI first began playing tennis with a friend; we taughtourselves how to play.

Flashlight Tag is a game that we neighborhood kids may have invented, I’m not sure. It is played at nighttime and is a combination of Hide and Seek and Tag (aka “You’re It!”). The person who is “It” uses a flashlight to find people. To “catch” someone, he must shine the light on that person and call out their name. If he correctly identifies the person before they run away and hide again, then they are “caught” and must go to “Jail”, some prescribed location such as a porch or driveway. To win the game, the person who is “It” must catch everyone and put them all in Jail at the same time. But once he catches someone, his job now becomes more difficult. He must go out and search for and catch the other players, which will leave his Jail unguarded. If any free player can reach the jail and touch the captives, then they are all free and can “escape” and go hide again. Thus, the person who is “It” must not only search for others but also try to guard his Jail while doing so. If he sees someone running towards the Jail to free the captives, and he can shine the light on them and capture them before they do so, then that would-be rescuer is now also caught and goes into Jail alongside all the other captives.

Inside Games

For inside games, we had cards games like Go Fishing, Rook, Solitaire, or Poker.We played poker with poker chips for fun, not money; we didn’t have any money back then.

Playing Cards

A normal deck (stack) of playing cards consists of 52 cards, divided into 4 suits (Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, Spades). Each suit has 13 cards. In order of increasing value or strength, these 13 cards are2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, jack, queen, king, ace. In some games, an ace might be used as a ‘1’. Some decks will include one or two jokers. A joker is a “wild card” that can be used to represent any of the other 52 cards at the player’s discretion(choice or whim). Thus, a joker is very powerful. One player, called the dealer, deals the cards to the players. Cards are dealt (deal/dealt/dealt) to each player in turn, for example, one card to each player, then a second card to each player, then a third card to each player, etc. If a game will include jokers, the dealer will usually announce this by saying, “Jokers are wild.” This means they are used as wild cards that can represent any card of the player’s choosing. Before playing with a deck of cards, the dealer shuffles the cards first (mixes themup in a random order).

The Game of Poker

The cards in your hand are called your “hand“. Some poker hands include: one pair (2 of any card, like 2 jacks), three of a kind (3 of any card, like 3 queens), four of a kind (like 4 aces), a flush (5 cards of the same suit, like 5 hearts), a straight (5 cards in order, like 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, any suits), a straight flush (a straight but all in the same suit), and a full house (three of a kind AND one pair, like three 3s and two 4s). When you play poker for real money, this is called gambling (taking a risk). People who gamble are called gamblers. There is a well-known country music song titled “The Gambler”, sung by Kenny Rogers. In this song, an old gambler teaches a nave (innocent, clueless about life) young kid a lesson about life using a poker game as his metaphor (symbolic analogy) about life.

Below are shown some example poker hands from highest to lowest:

1=five of a kind
2=royal flush (ace high)
3=straight flush (not ace high)
4=four of a kind
5=full house
8=three of a kind
9=two pairs
10=one pair.

Thus, a flush beats (wins over) a straight. Three of a kind beats two of a kind. A royal flush beats any hand except five of a kind.

Board Games

Besides card games, we had tabletop games, also called board games because they were played on a playing board while sitting around a table. You may be familiar with some of the simpler games like Chess, Checkers, Chinese Checkers,Dominoes, and Scribble. Some other board games are shown below. All of these are turn-based games, which means that players take turns moving their pieces around the board. One player is selected to “go first”. Then all players take a turn in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. When everyone has had one turn in this circular sequence, that completes what we call one round. Then the next round begins with the “first player” again. If you aren’t sure whose turn it is, then you would ask, “Whose turn is it?” Player A might say, “It’s my turn!”

Do you know any of these games?

Below is the game of Monopoly. It includes a playing board, two dice, some “play money” (fake money),and playing pieces that are moved around the board a certain number of spaces each turn based on a throw of the dice. The singular of dice is die. One die + one die = two dice. We throw (or cast) the dice, then add up their total. Did you know that the opposite sides of a die always total seven? If I throw two dice and get two 1s, this is called “snake eyes“. Two 6s are called “boxcars” (they look like two rectangular train cars). Throwing a 7 or 11 is considered lucky!

Below some people are playing Monopoly. Each person has some Monopoly money in front of them. Whoever ends the game with the most money wins. Do yourecognize the uniforms below?

My favorite board game was called Risk. Its goal is to take over the world no less! The playing board is a map of the world, and the playing pieces are armies. Dice throws determine whose army wins each battle.

Self-Assessment (What Did You Learn?)

  1. What does “turn-based” mean?
  2. How does a player determine how many spaces to move his piece in most games?
  3. If I take awayone of two dice, thenI am left with one _____.
  4. On a normal six-sided die, the number 3 is facing up. What number is facing down (on the bottom side)?
  5. You are playing poker with a friend. You have a full house and your friend has a flush. Who wins?
  6. You throw the dice and someone yells “Boxcars!” What number did you throw?
  7. You throw the dice and someone yells “Snake eyes!” What number did you throw?
  8. In the Monopoly game above being played by four people, whois the employer of the two guys in white uniforms? (Hint: These uniforms arevery famous around the world, I think.)
  9. What does the idiom “ace in the hole” mean? (You must look this one up.)
  10. What does the expression “He’s a wild card” mean? (You must look this one up.)
  11. What does the expression “to call a spade a spade” mean? (You must look this one up.)
  12. A Roman Emperor, Julius Caesar, is famous for saying, “The die is cast.” What does this mean literally? What does it mean figuratively? (You must look this one up.)

Song: “The Gambler” ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jj4nJ1YEAp4 )

Students, my turn is over. Now it is your turn to tell us what games you played when you were younger. You may include both inside and outside games.

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