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Playing for life

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  • 1. DeMasiGail DeMasiProfessor Nancy McGartlandCollege Writing IIApril 15, 2012 Playing for Life His name was Max Roeder Roeder Max. I remember the day he drowned under a smallbridge over an even smaller stream. I do not think he drowned because I did not need himanymore. I think he drowned because I realized there was not a place for him in the world I wasgrowing into, my life as an eight year old. There was room for Max Roeder in my life, but notroom for him in the world of growing up and grownups. I knew enough to realize he could notcome. I did not know enough to know he was my imaginary playmate. It would be years before Iunderstood Max Roeder‟s role in my life. Paradoxical? It is. To have an imaginary playmate, even to witness his death, and notrealize fully that he was imaginary, is a bit of a paradox. However, play is paradoxical. On theone hand, it seems to have a purpose: to help children learn and develop. On the other hand, itseems by virtue of itself to have no purpose: play is spontaneous, freely entered into, and createsa life of its own. I would like to take you into this play paradox in the pages of this paper. I want to “bringout the kid” in you and guide, you, to the realization that we are made to play. All of us, whetheryoung or old, wealthy or poor, educated or uneducated, we are all made to play. Play throughoutadulthood is necessary to develop life skills, to find happiness and purpose, and to improve oursocial networks, from family to work to community.
  • 2. DeMasi 2What is Play? “No behavioral concept has proven more ill-defined, elusive, controversial, and evenunfashionable.” (Burghardt 15) Having read many journal articles and books over the past few weeks it is clear there isno definition for play, at least one which the emergent play scientists can agree upon. StuartBrown, a psychiatrist turned play researcher and writer, offers a sufficient definition for thepurpose of this paper “…let us define play as a spontaneous, nonstereotyped, intrinsicallypleasurable activity, free of anxiety or other overpowering emotion, without a visible, clear-cutgoal other than its own activity. If the goal supersedes the intrinsic joy of the activity, it ceases tobe „pure‟ play.” (Brown 6) intense focus curiosity & obstacles to flexibility surmount Play receptive to spontaneous new ideas & fun temporary loss of ones egoGary Krane, psychologist, writer and playshop leader offers this thought on play“… [It] istherefore not what we do, but how we do it. In play, we seek to create new ways of relating withpeople, words, actions, ideas, images, things, and ourselves. And we do it by creating obstacles
  • 3. DeMasi 3or challenges to overcome, by freeing ourselves from arbitrary rules and creating new ones inorder to expand our range of possible action.” (18) PROPERTIES OF PLAY Apparently purposesless - done for its own sake, no survival value Voulntary- it is not obligatory or required by duty Inerent attraction- it is fun, it makes you feel good Freedom from time- when engaged in play, one loses a sense of the passage of time Diminished conciousness of self- one stops thinking about oneself, how one looks, is fully engaged Improvisational potential- open to chance, may thus stumble into new way of seeing and thinking Continuation desire- a desire to keep doing it, the pleasure of the experience drives the desire PROCESS OF PLAY Anticipation- waiting with expectation, wonderment, curiosity, excitement, uncertainty Surprise- unexpected, a discovery, a new sensation or idea, a shifting Pleasure - a good feeling, like the unexpected pleasure we feel at the punch line of a good joke Understanding- the acquisition of new knowledge, a synthesizing of distinct and separate concepts, an incorporation of ideas that were previously foreign Strength- the mastery that comes from constructive experience and understanding, the empowerment of coming through a scary experience unscathed, of knowing more about how the world works Poise- grace, contentment, composure, and a sense of balance in life(Brown 5)
  • 4. DeMasi 4 boysplayinginwater.jpgWhat is the play state? When animals and people enter into play, they enter into the “play state.” The play stateis an altered state of consciousness. Animals and people alike experience it. The followingpictorial demonstrates beautifully the play state. The time is late October; the bear is a 1200-pound polar bear. The bear has been cut off from its major food supply; ice has not formed allowing him access to it. He comes upon two, tethered, Husky dogs, belonging to a wildlife photographer. The scene that unfolds befuddles judgment, as one of the Husky dogs wags her tale and gets down into the “play bow”. The bear, signals back his readiness to play: body language is curved, claws are not extended, and he isalso ready to play. Despite their species, despite the dictates of instinct and survival, the play state overrides and the two animals enter a different reality. The ritual is repeated for a week, until the bear leaves. (Brown 22)
  • 5. DeMasi 5 Fme- when engaged in play, one loses a sense of the passage oftime
  • 6. DeMasi 6 delight & clarity motivation involvement Feelings in the play state timeliness confidence & serenity When WWhen play is a part of our life, we experience these feelings of the play state, also called the„flow‟. This develops into a playful attitude, playfulness, a disposition towards life that reflectsthe experiences of the play state. (Krane 23)Play gives meaning to our life and helps us find our purpose, which is happiness. In Victor Frankl‟s book Man‟s Search for Meaning, he talks of man‟s quest to find thepurpose of his life, the meaning for which his days are lived.Frankl, a psychiatrist, spent severalyears in Nazi concentration camps. During that time, he lost his father, mother, brother and wife.Every day brought hourly, life threatening experiences. He was starved, brutalized, and losteverything; almost. He did not lose his dignity. He did not lose his perspective, or attitude,towards life. He shares in his book “I was struggling to find the reason for my sufferings, myslow dying. In a last violent protest against the hopelessness of imminent death, I sensed myspirit piercing through the enveloping gloom. I felt it transcend that hopeless, meaningless world,
  • 7. DeMasi 7and from somewhere I heard a victorious „Yes‟ in answer to my question of the existence of anultimate purpose.” (60) Frankl offers to the world the ability and opportunity to “weave thethreads of a life into a firm pattern of meaning and responsibility.” (87) He acknowledges theuniqueness of each person‟s life and does purport to offer a universal purpose and meaning to allof life. “Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concreteassignment which demands fulfillment.” He continues, “Ultimately, one should not ask what themeaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each isquestioned by life, and each can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he canonly respond by being responsible…responsibleness is the very essence of human existence.”(131) For Frankl, as for each person‟s journey, we are called to transcend whatever life putsbefore us; to find meaning in an event or circumstance, and to transcend it by incorporating itinto our life. Our purpose in life, our natural desire, is for happiness. The famed Catholic theologianand saint, Augustine, writes in De Moribus “We all want to live happily; in the whole humanrace there is no one who does not assent to this proposition, even before it is fully articulated.”(1312) Play makes us happy. Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi is a scientist who has studied play andhappiness more than any other scientist has. Making a distinction between non-challengingforms of entertainment (TV and movies), he and many other research scientists have concludedafter thirty years of study “those involved in pursuits which challenge us, while maintaining abalance between our abilities and that challenge, are the people who are the happiest.” (Krane30) Play is such an endeavor.
  • 8. DeMasi 8 William Glasser, a noted psychiatrist, proposed the following chart of basic needs. Itincludes love & belonging, power, fun, survival and freedom. Educator Richard Sagor, tocomplement Glasser‟s needs with the five basic human psychological needs, proposed the chartnext to it. Note on the corresponding chart are competence, optimism, belonging, potency, andusefulness.When Glasser wrote further on the need for fun, he included laughter, enjoymentlearning and change. The feelings experienced in the play state include confidence, delight,involvement and motivation. During play we experience laughter, change and learning.Play fulfills a basic human need for fun, freedom, and love and belonging. Play also fulfillshuman psychological needs of competence, potency, optimism, and belonging. (Corey 334) Play transforms us. This transformation lasts beyond the actual play experience. Itbecomes a part of our fiber. The playful attitude incorporates itself into our perceptions. It leadsus to be able to transcend the events and conflicts of our daily existence. We find purpose andmeaning in our life. We find happiness.
  • 9. DeMasi 9We are made for play. There is a term in the field of science called neoteny. The origin of the word is Greek andmeans to stretch. Brown explains it well: “By slowing down the rate of development and theextension of the phases of development from birth to old age, the organism so configured retainsjuvenile characteristics into adult phases of development and behavior. By design, we humansare the most neotenous of species.” (Brown 3) Neoteny refers then, to the retention of juvenilecharacteristics into adulthood through the process of rapid development (conception to twoyears of age). This neotenous state of human affairs, Brown concludes, “Assures plasticity oflearning by avoiding specialization through the retention of immaturity.” In other words, ourbrains remain able to develop, to change, to grow new neural pathways, by remaining young andnot becoming rigid. (3) Ashley Montagu, a noted and highly regarded anthropologist, refers toneoteny as our “uniqueness, in always remaining in a state of development.” (Montagu3) Hegoes on to list neotenous traits of humans that are active throughout our life cycle (107) playfulness friendship love sensitivity flexibility work curiosity knowing learning sound thinking Neotenous creativity open-mindedness optimism enthusiasm traits of compassion honesty-trust resiliency sense of humor humans wonder organization imagination sensitivity intelligence joyfulness laughter and tears song and dance experimental- mindedness
  • 10. DeMasi 10What matters about neoteny is the idea that each of us retains the flexibility to learn and changeover the entire course of our lifetime. Brain studies also support the capacity of the brain to grownew neural connections, particularly though play. (Brown) Below are two pictures of FionaShaw‟s brain. (Fiona is a leading British actor who agreed to have her brain imaged.) One of the accompanying animations shows, in green, the three main parts of her brain, which Fiona used when she was simply counting: they are the part, which controls the movement of the lips and tongue, the part associated with hearing and a third part involved in planning what she was going to say.Fiona‟s right brain while counting The second animation shows the parts, in yellow, which she also employed when "performing". Towards the front of the brain, there is a part associated with "higher order" control of behavior. Towards the top of the brain is a section, which controls the movement of the hands and arms - even though she wasn’t waving her arms about, she, was apparently thinking about doing so.Fiona‟s right brain while acting And towards the back of the head is an area associated with complex Brain activity during play creates neural pathways. Brown visual imagery, even though she “These neural connections don‟t seem to have immediate wasnt performing a complex visual task. (Higham) function, but when fired up by play is in fact essential to continued brain organization.” (Brown 41)
  • 11. DeMasi 11Play develops life skills. Several years ago, I traveled to Washington, D.C. with the youngest five of my fourteenchildren. We were on adventure. The plan was to visit my daughter, Patience, a student in theMaster‟s program at John Paul II. I will always remember how much we played, those five days.Mercy, Lily, Kolbe, Antonia, Andre and I: we were included right in to the heart and flow of thegraduate students‟ lives. We played board games, sang around campfires, recited silly poetry,went to the Mall to play soccer, and most of all, and played spontaneous games, which had funnynames and no props. Mafia was one such game. We all gathered in the living room- all ages andabilities, the rules of the game were explained to us newbies, and the fun began. It wasexhilarating, hysterical, and no one wanted it to end. We played one game after the other. Thiswas normal life for these young men and women. Although they studied long hours and manyworked odd jobs, playing games was a part of their daily fabric. The impression of goodness andjoy has never left me. My grandson, Jack, lives with us, along with his sister and his mom. Jack has had a toughtime in his young eight years. His dad is a difficult man and makes Jack‟s life unpredictable.Jack has had trouble in school, socially. He gets good grades, though I am unsure whether he is“passing by coping” or if he is really learning. Sometimes I wonder if he has shades of autism.Last week he told my Kolbe, 15, that a boy in his class was having a birthday party. Jack was theonly boy in the class not invited. The day of the party, the boys shuffled off, together, and onemade sure to look back and stick his tongue out at Jack. The week before a child offeredJackfifty cents if he promised not to play with the kids. Jack has an issue or two; he can bepersistent and he can have trouble following directions. Last year the third grade teacher wasnearly driven “to drink” because of Jack, and so spent the year screaming at him and putting his
  • 12. DeMasi 12desk out tint he hallway. (It is a private school). Despite the number of times my daughter and Ioffered tangible, workable solutions to Jack‟s behavior, we were never able to work as a team.Jack has a miserable school life, a difficult Dad he gets to be with every other weekend, and us.As a family, we have decided that Jack most needs to play. If Jack is play deprived, and I thinkhe is, he may have but a few years to set things a right. Kolbe has taken Jack under his wing andthe two of them have become inseparable, whenever Jack is around. In one month‟s time, Kolbehas become a confidant, and a friend. It is remarkable to me; both that Kolbe has done thismostly on his own and that Jack has blossomed. Recently Kolbe advised Jack to invite one boyhome from his class to ride dirt bikes, swim in the pool and play basketball or other games.Jack‟s dilemma was whether to invite the boy who plays Pokémon all day or his “frenemy”. Ihad never even heard the word, but it is a word, and it is applicable. They have decided to invitethe frenemy home. Play will lead the way to solving relationship struggles and repairing a veryfragile self-esteem. It may even save Jack‟s life. Many years ago, we adopted a boy named Fern. He came to us right before his 6thbirthday. Three years later, we would be on the doorsteps of the children‟s division of the StateHospital with commitment papers. Unfortunately, the Doctor on call that night would not honorour papers and sent us home; home with a very disturbed nine-year-old boy. We did get Fern treatment, eventually. He went to Colorado, to the Attachment Center.While there, he divulged the nightmare three of our children, babies (age 2 – 6) had been livingfor three years, at his hand. Fern, diagnosed with Reactive Attachment disorder, remained inColorado until he became of age. I don‟t know where he is now. Over the course of three years,he managed to kill animals, attempt to kill one of our children, and committed unspeakable acts
  • 13. DeMasi 13of violence, all without our knowledge. I was mighty suspicious, but unable to prove anything,until that summer, when we had him committed. What we came to learn about him well after his stay with us were facts such as hisgrowing up in a satanic cult. He did actually participate in the murder of his sister Fern had beenseverely ritualistically abused form birth. He was very bright, and he had no conscience. Whatdoes Fern have to do with play? Fern, in addition to the abuse he suffered, was also a victim of severe play deprivation.He had excellent social skills, but could not play with anyone. Children were afraid of him,animals knew not go near him. He made it his life to control whatever and whomever he could.That translated into his becoming a perpetrator and our children becoming his victims. How did we respond, how did we recover? After the initial trauma, we spent many yearsrebuilding trust with our children. We determined to make life honest, yet magical. We knew ourattitude had as much to do with their well-being as did keeping them safe. We came to see lifethrough children‟s eyes, respecting what matter most to them, as opposed to us the grown-ups.We listened, we served, and we fought for intimacy. It became very important to not allow thechildren to escape being in relationship with us, as hard as it could get. We strove towards a joy,towards living a life dependent on spirit and heart. We started to homeschool the children and asthe years went by, we all grew together. We continued to have babies, knowing that life wasworth living. We depended on laughter and tears, humor and kindness, optimism, compassion,wonder, and playfulness. Our kids played. We learned and played together. We more thansurvived: we are happy. We never could erase the tragedy, but we could and did transcend it. Play, as evidenced in the above personal vignettes, enhanced family cohesiveness,increased problem solving, creativity, and productivity. It reduced sibling conflict and other
  • 14. DeMasi 14conflicts. Play has helped with healing, mental clarity, and will help with psychological healing.It has taught better communication skills, and the ability to fine tune reaction time! It has broughtpeople together in friendship and built community. It has improved our outlook on life.Why grownups do not play and why it matters. “Play is for kids.” Not so, especially according to a recent study conducted by social researchers on a groupof adult business executives. The study was on play and health and included 101 men andwomen participants, over a 12-month period. The results: “when play is featured prominently inthe personal identity of the individual there is a greater awareness for and acceptance of theirown emotions and a greater skill at expressing their feelings in appropriate ways. They alsopursue intellectual stimulation, avoid exposure to harmful chemicals and drugs, and engage inbehaviors that promote the health and welfare of their broader social community.” (Doster et al.1071) These business executives appear to support the notion that play, “as a creative activity,induces positive emotions and provides a cognitive buffer from novel stress. Play, as an attitude,not just an activity, encourages cognitive flexibility and improves quality of life for individuals.”(1073) “I need to spend time with my family after I work.” Then there is good news for you! The family that plays together stays together. Currentresearch, according to Professor Dianne Smith from Brigham Young University, “the more timea family spends together participating in recreational activities, the higher degree of familycohesiveness. Family recreation is one meaningful way to create stronger families.” (Smith 1)Smith reviewed several studies done over the course of eight years and reports: “Recreation
  • 15. DeMasi 15allows family members to share common interests, increase cohesion, and have fun. Accordingto research, families who do things together, like enjoying the outdoors or taking vacations, aremore likely to be happy, strong families. Family values of communication, decision making,problem solving and cooperation in work and play can be enhanced in recreational settings.” (3)The definition of family recreation included games, hikes, sports, picnics, kite flying, walking,gardening and fitness activities. While the study noted increased socialization (getting alongtogether, sharing, learning, and increased family loyalty), it also suggested the overall benefit tosociety, as a society is only “as strong as its homes and families.” (6) I am stressed enough without adding another „must do‟ to my list. Play science is hype. Psychiatrist Lenore Terr writes in her book “Adult play is picking up interest intherapeutic usefulness. [Play is turning out to be]…a great nonmedicinal tranquilizer.” (Leo)There is an emergent industry concerned with laughter and play, and it is targeting the workingworld. Consultants are available to help companies realize the health and morale benefit ofplaying and having fun. Matt Weinstein of one such company, Playfair, Inc. quips, “Laughterand play are a way to make the workplace more human.” Humor advisors and play specialists arecommanding rates of $1000 to $2000 per hour to offer advice and insights to corporations likeAT & T and General Electric. (Leo 1999) It is not hype; there may be something in it even forthe stressed out. “Í think it is better to spend time studying and improving the mind.” If you lived in Japan, you would not think so. Yet, we hold the Japanese educationalsystem in great esteem.In Japan, play is “living”. A Japanese teacher refers to play as “anecessity that provides us with the power of living through optimism and initiative.” (Taylor etal. 3) Playfulness, equated with a state of heart, and referred to as „lightheartedness‟, „spirit‟, or
  • 16. DeMasi 16„mind‟ Japanese children‟s development is “protected by play, [which is] the power of living,the basic foundation of feelings, desires and attitudes.” (Taylor et al.1) The government, in itsdocument on kindergarten education outlines the role of play: “children learn through play, [thatplay] is their voluntary activity and that such activity creates the foundation for a balancebetween mind and body.” (Taylor et al. 4) Stuart Brown discusses Cal Tech‟s Jet Propulsion Lab‟s dilemma in his book. The labhad been the researcher for seven decades, but found themselves with a problem in the nineties.As their top engineers readied for retirement (having put men on the moon and createdinnovative robotic technology), replacements were hard to find. “Even though JPL hired topgraduates from all the best schools – MIT, Stanford, Cal Tech –the new hires were often missingsomething. The experienced managers found that the newly minted engineers might excel at thetheoretical…but they didn‟t do well with practical difficulties.” Apparently, the processes ofproblem solving involving taking a problem apart, “tossing it around, breaking it down, teasingout its critical elements and rearranging them in innovative solutions” was lost on them. (Brown10) These students were highly academic, well educated, had done science camps instead ofsports. Eventually JPL solved their problem with the help of a fellow who ran a machine shop.He questioned the retiring and the new recruits and found that the former had all worked andplayed with their hands when they were growing up. The latter had never taken a bicycle apart,put an engine together, or done anything with their hands. Herein was the problem. Brown:“Those who had played with their hands as kids and adults possessed far stronger practicalproblem-solving skills than their counterparts who merely excelled in theoretical mathematics.”(11) Spending time playing improves the mind, increases creativity and spawns mastery.
  • 17. DeMasi 17 What about gambling, war gaming, teasing and recreational aggression, or idleness? There is bad play, and it is not healthy. Like eating or drinking alcohol, it is a reality thatpeople will be bad players and will look for the dark side. As with other addictions-, extremebehavior, which is self-destructive and hurts others, does not bring happiness. Is play sinful, awaste of time or idleness? Recalling the beginning of this paper as a way to address the aboveconcerns, consider this: “let us define play as a spontaneous, nonstereotyped, intrinsicallypleasurable activity, free of anxiety or other overpowering emotion, without a visible, clear-cutgoal other than its own activity. If the goal supersedes the intrinsic joy of the activity, it ceases tobe „pure‟ play.” (Brown 6) Bad play disqualifies itself as play. The benefits of play as alreadydiscussed contraindicate the idea that play is sinful or idle; which is not to say that bad play isn‟teither of those two things. “I don‟t know how to play. How do you play when you haven‟t forever? I am afraid.” Many grownups are afraid. Do you know why? Play is about intimacy. We do not have toknow how to play, or what to play, when we have not played since a child. We need to be opento the adventure. We need to be convinced that play is, indeed, good for us. We need to know therisk of being adult play deprived. Interviewer Alison Kadlec, after an interview with StuartBrown, “Adults, for example, who have either forgotten or lost its joys, or put play in their backpocket, are people who, as a result of their own adult play deprivation regardless of how muchplay they may have had as kids, will be rigid, narrow in their thinking, brittle in their response tostress, and much less open to handling the curve balls life throws us.” (Kadlec 2) Settingourselves on a course to play, to play for life, is about allowing ourselves to be intimate withthose we love, those we enjoy spending time with and those we with whom we are in
  • 18. DeMasi 18relationship. It is about being whole, continuing our journey in life, becoming the best we can be.It is about our own happiness and the happiness others.Playing for life is about building a betterworld, our own and the one to which we all belong. I have forgotten so many things over my 57 years, but I have never forgotten Max RoederRoeder Max. He is still with me. How remarkable is that? An imaginary friend, yet a true friendto the end. I am so thankful for the play I have enjoyed throughout my life, for each adventure,for each moment to laugh and to love. Are you ready?
  • 19. DeMasi 19 Works CitedBrown, Stuart. The Power of Play Philadelphia: Perseus 2007 PrintBurghardt, Gordon. The Genesis of Animal Play Cambridge: MIT 2005 PrintCorey, Gerald. Theories and Practice of Counseling & Psychotherapy Belmont: Brooks/Cole 2013 PrintCsikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention New York: Harper Collins 1991 PrintDonaldson, Fred. Playing by Heart Hartford: Health 1993 PrintDoster, Joseph, Rebecca Miekle, Celeste Riley, Raphael Toledo, and Arthur Goven. “Play and Health among a Group of Adult Business Executives” Social Behavior & Personality 34(9) 2006: 1071-1080. PrintElkind, David. The Power of Play New York: Penguin 2010 PrintFagen, Robert. “Animal play, games of angels, biology, and Brian.” In A.D. Pellegrini (ed.) The Future of Play Theory (pp.23-44) Albany: State University of NY Press 1995 PrintFrankl, Victor. Man‟s Search for MeaningNewYork: Washington Square Press 1946 PrintFrost, Joe. “Play Deprivation: A Factor in Juvenile Violence”. Dimensions in Early Childhood 1995 V 23 n 3 pp. 14- 20Goldhalber, Jeanne. “If We Call It Science Then Can We Let the Children Play?”.Childhood Education Fall 1994 V71 n1 pp.24-27Kadlec, Alison. “Play and Public Life” National Civic Review 2009: 3-11.PrintKrane, Gary. Simple Fun for Busy People Berkeley: Conari 1998 PrintHigham, Alan. “What‟s my Brain‟s Motivation?” Today ProgrammeBBC n.d. Web 10 April 2012
  • 20. DeMasi 20Leo, John. “Chortle While You Work” U.S.News and World Report 126 (16) 1999: 19.PrintMontagu, Ashley. Growing Young New York: Bergin & Garvey 1981 PrintNarey, Theresa. “One Thing Leads to Another: Evolution, Play and Technology”. Online submission to ERIC 2010 http:www.eric.ed.gov/contentdelivery/servletSinger, J.L., Singer, D.G. “Imaginative Play as Precursor of Narrative Consciousness”. Abstracts in Anthropology 2006: Vol 25(2) pp97-117Smith, Diane. “Strengthening Family Values in the Twenty-First Century” Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance 68 (8) 1997: 39-41Spinka, M., Newberry, R.C., Bekoff, M. “Mammalian Play: Training for the Unexpected”. The Quarterly Review of Biology 2001: 76(2) 141-168Taylor, Satomi, Crosby Rogers, Arleen Dodd, Toshiko Kaneda, Iku Nagasaki, Yasuhiro Watanabe and Toru Goshiki. “The Meaning of Play: a Cross-Cultural Study of American And Japanese Teachers‟ Perspectives on Play” Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education 24 2004 311-321All photos from the public domain, found on Google Chrome Images Addendum
  • 21. DeMasi 21How to Play MafiaThe game of Mafia is about convincing others, about being able to lie believably, and aboutbeing able to figure out if other people are lying. It will reveal a lot about players to each other,and works best if the players know a little bit about each other first. It is tremendous fun if theplayers have a sense of humor.The setting is a once peaceful town which has been invaded by the dark forces of corruption -the Mafia.The Mafias sole purpose is to murder the productive citizens in their bed. They have free reignof the town at night, but by day they appear to be normal citizens.As a response to these terrible events, the townspeople have hired an Inspector, whose job is toremain disguised while attempting to root our the members of the Mafia.Game RulesGame SetupThe game of Mafia is played by an odd number of people. Good numbers are 9, 11, or 13.Players are either townspeople or Mafia. In addition, one of the townspeople is the Inspector.Who plays what is determined at random. One method for determining who is who is to usecards: black cards for the mafia, red cards for townspeople, and the king of hearts for theinspector. Players may not show their cards to others.The number of Mafia and townspeople can vary, depending on which side is winning moreoften: Players Mafia Leans Toward9 3 Even9 2 Townspeople11 3 Even11 4 Mafia13 3 Townspeople13 4 Even13 5 MafiaStarting with 3 Mafia is generally recommended.Order of Play
  • 22. DeMasi 22The game takes place over the duration of several "days" and "nights". Play begins at the start ofthe first "day", and proceeds as follows: 1. Everyone discusses who might be in the Mafia. Eventually, a vote is called and the (un)lucky candidate is run out of town (or lynched, or tarred and feathered, or... You get the idea). As they are run out of town (of whatever), the player gets to make one final statement. The first person thus removed from play becomes the Moderator 2. Night falls. Everyone goes to sleep (by closing their eyes). 3. The Moderator tells the members of the Mafia to open their eyes. The members of the Mafia then select someone they will murder, by pointing at people until they all agree on one. The Mafia then close their eyes. 4. The Moderator tells the Inspector to open his eyes. This happens even if the Inspector has been killed, or run out of town. The Inspector then points at a suspect. The Moderator nods "yes" if that person in the Mafia, or "no" if they are innocent. The Inspector then closes his eyes. 5. The Moderator announces the coming of the morning, and the name of the luckless victim. Embelishments on the method of death are fun here (Ooh, Jim was found garotted in his Barcalounger!). 6. The townspeople, realizing that their previous council did not root out all the evil, return to step one and play proceeds from there.Winning ConditionsThe game is over when: All of the Mafia have been eliminated. The townspeople win There are an equal number of townspeople and Mafia at the end of a "day". The Mafia winsPlay HintsCalling a VoteDuring the day, the townspeople get to vote on who to run out of town. At any point during thediscussion, someone can call a vote by saying "I vote So-and-So is a Mafia and should be run outof town." If more than half the living players agree, then the elected person is unceremoniouslyremoved from the game. There should always be an odd number of players during the day, so avote will not end in a deadlock. Voting and debated may become heated. Thats where the funlies!The First DayDuring the first day, members of the Mafia have no information about whos in the Mafia or not.The person to get voted out is pretty random, so its up to everyone to make a good, convincingfirst statement that will result in them not being voted out.
  • 23. DeMasi 23Once the first night falls, though, the Mafia will be able to act in a much mure unified way.The InspectorThe Inspector has no way to prove their role, since players are not allowed to show their cards toone another to prove they are what they say there are. Admitting one is the Inspector can result ina swift death in the middle of the night, unless only one member of the Mafia was left alive.Try these games as well:Fruit Basket Equipment Needed – People intelligent enough to stand in a circle. How to Play – Make a tight circle – no gaps. Each person chooses a fruit (a little help – strawberry, banana, watermelon, tomato [yes, it is a fruit], cherry, grape). Then It is in the middle. It calls out a fruit. Everyone who has chosen that fruit has to run to another area – an empty space left by a member of the same fruit group. It tries to get into one of those places, therefore leaving one different person in the middle to be It. One cannot move to the space directly beside them, nor can they stay in the same spot – if Itdoesn’t make it to an empty space, It has to do the whole thing over again, with another fruit. Oh, the ghastly horrors!Mummy Wrap Equipment Needed – One roll of toilet paper for every 2 people How to Play – A fun game. Split into teams of two and give each team a roll of toilet paper. Games with toilet paper are always good. Then one person tries to turn the other into a mummy. Everything has to be covered except the eyes. First team done wins.MOVIES: The Three Idiots, A Beautiful Life, Dan in Real Life, Waiting for ForeverBOOKS: They Love to Laugh (good family read aloud) Simple Fun for Busy People