Games for your mind

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classic-board-gamesOnce upon a time families used to have fun playing classic board games, this was before the tv and the digital revolution where fun and games are always condensed into a screen.
Some of us seem really nostalgic for those happy days, when families had fun together sitting around a table and playing classic board games, because they’re ready to spend a lot of money for classic board game.

The board games market begun in the early 20th century along with the rise of the new middle class demand for family entertainment. Soon many games designed by the most creative minds of that period became the favourite pastime
for children and adults and nowadays some of them are considered like pieces of art.
For a rare classic board game of the Georgian period, with illustrations and board in good conditions, like the one in the picture below, collectors are ready to pay up to 500£.

vintage-board-game

old board game

Classic board games are so called because some of them are still popular nowadays despite their old age.
Monopoly, for example, was launched in the UK market in 1935 and sold 200 millions of sets since then. Classic board games like monopoly, risk, connect four and many others remain one of the best options for all those parents who want to involve their children in a fun and recreational activity for all the family, instead of leaving them always alone in front of a computer screen.

In this sense classic board games can build strong and deep family relations and bring harmony and fun in your house, while you can teach always something new to your son.

For this reason classic board games are timeless, because they’re one of the funniest way to teach children about rules, loyalty, honesty, challenge, logic, problem solving and many other skills.

A new level of enjoyment for all the family can be reached with classic board games.

There are so many models that everyone of us can find the right one:
Could be a strategy game, a brain teaser or just a parlour game, the important thing is classic board games can get families around a table and offer an alternative way to confront themselves and learn about life.
I think this is something remarkable and worth to play if we don’t want to miss the best years of our life with our children.

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games for kidsParty gamesare usually played in family or during friends’ gathering. In England people like to play party games in the pubs, for example during a quiz night contest, in USA these games are usually played during private parties and festivities and in the rest of the world in every country we can find different kinds of popular party games. Gaming is an universal language with different styles in different places but the essence and the spirit of the activity remains the same:
Party games are played for fun during social gatherings and family parties because are a good way to create happy memories, and to bring different generations together in a non competitive and stress free recreational activity. Involving everyone in a fun situations, party games are experiencing a great comeback in our society, probably because we tend to go out less after the credit crunch or maybe that with our busy and frenetic life styles sometimes we need just an old fashion ritual like a party game night In the comfort of our home.
Party games weren’t so popular five or ten years ago but they were deeply played during the great depression when they were used to teach and entertain kids and relief them from the stress and the fear of a poor life. Maybe this renewed popularity of party games will decrease with the economy recovery, but for sure it’ll remain for particular and special occasion like a family game after dinner during the holidays or a quiz night competition in a crowded pub.

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Mesoamerican-ball-game

Modern reproduction of the ancient Mesoamerican ball game

The Mesoamerican ball game was a sport practiced by ancient Pre-Columbian cultures of Central America.
More than 3000 years ago The Mesoamerican ball game was very popular, the Maya called it pitsl, the Aztec name was ullamaliztl, but the game is the same.
This game was played with heavy rubber balls in open ended ball courts of different size with two vertical stone rings, one for each side of the court.
The aim of the game was to pass the ball in the stone goal and score the point.
We don’t know exactly the rules of this anciet game, but we know that Mesoamerican ball game could be really violent. In fact some games were played just for fun and recreation, some others were part of a ritual involving human sacrifice; for this occasions the game was played in Huge ball courts by two team of captives and the losers were sacrificed in a mystic/religious ritual.
The importance of the Mesoamerican ball game in ancient Pre-Columbian society is proved by  all the diufferent use this game by the Maya: the ball game was used as a recreational sport, as part of a spiritual ritual and as well to solve the disputes among tribes and prevent the warfare.

A Maya mural found in El Tajin, showing the sacrifice of a ballplayer.

Sometimes head of tribes play (but was more like a fight) the ball game to re-establish tribes hierarchy, and impose supremacy; this game was so important because it was like a social conflicts relief valve, it was a place where the disputes could be solved with a ball game match instead of a battle.
Probably the spiritual symbolism behind the ball game is the reason of the human sacrifices: the bal represents the sun and the scoring rings the sunrise; the solar movement is tied on fertility and the sacrifice of the player is the ritual of the death and the reborn of the sun. The game was a battle between day and night, born and death, life and the underworld.

This video is a modern reproduction of the ancient Mesoamerican ball game and of the Maya ball game rituals

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Educational_toysGames and Recreational activities play an fundamental role in child development. Spencer affirms that both man and animals have a surplus of energies utilized in games and recreational activities; in 1900 Carl Cross noticed that games and recreational activities are a sort of exercise utilized to develop motor skills and mental faculties, an exercise to see that determined innate human structures are transformed in more complex behaviour patterns, more suitable for environmental modifications. Through games and educational activities, the child start to understand objects functioning; the functional game , as pedagogues call it to underline the imitative activity of real situations: the game start to acquire the firsts representational patterns, when the child start to utilize objects in a functional way and in this way it become a representative game. The Recreational experience teach to the child perseverance and self-confidence; it’s a process to become aware of his internal and external worlds and to accept the reciprocal needs of these two realities. On a cognitive level, games and recreational activities favour the development of memory, of attention and concentration, the ability of make comparisons, of build relations and of utilize perceptual learning patterns. A lack of recreational activities, especially during childhood, can create cognitive deficiencies. Recreational activities grow step by step along with intellectual and psychological development of the child; for this reason this stage remains fundamental  in every man life.

Sometimes even for adults, playing recreational activities is the only way to free their minds from any thought or worry and to unburden emotional make-up.

Games and recreational activities are very important for the intellectual development of the child because when he plays he can surprise himself and trough surprise he can learn how to relate himself with the external world; games are a great tool for the child because help him to develop his creativity, to experiment his cognitive capabilities, to build relations with his contemporaries and to give life to the development of his personality.

Intellectual potentiality, affections, relations, these are the milestones of a sane and happy childhood and of a bright future, because,  as British World War pilot Douglas Bader used to say, “Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you can’t do this or that. That’s nonsense. Make up your mind, you’ll never use crutches or a stick, then have a go at everything. Go to school, join in all the games you can. Go anywhere you want to. But never, never let them persuade you that things are too difficult or impossible.”

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John_Lennon_mind_gamesToday I would like to make a tribute to a music legend of the past: John Lennon, probably one of the greatest artist of the last century, and to one of his best soloist songs:  Mind Games, which is also the title  of the album released in 1973 that bring back John Lennon‘s music on the emotional Pop-Rock sound.

Mind Games is not so famous like Imagine or other big hits of Lennon, but I think it’s one of the most interesting Lennon’s soloist works. Originally entitled make “Make Love, Not War”, like the famous  slogan against the war in Vietnam, Mind Games is another masterpiece deeply related to the  pacifist hymn “Give Peace A Chance”.

Mind Games stands for the possibility of use our own brightness to change the world, like Lennon did, using his fame to protest against the war and defend world peace. Mind Games is another great artistic prove of Lennon‘s commitment, explicitly declared in the last ironic sentence of the song: I want you to make love, not war, I know you’ve heard it before.

Games for your mind is all about that feeling so well expressed in this beautifull song: love not war, education not violence, free thoughts not  manipulation,  fair play not romp.

Playing  Clever games together today to paint a brighter  tomorrow!

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Pubs_gamesIn the United Kingdom we have about 60.000 pubs,  some of them with a long history and tradition. Since old times people always played games in the pubs,  between a drink and another, English people always find Some time to play traditional pubs games such as darts, board games, quizzes, mind games, card games, role games etc.
Probably is  for this reason that United Kingndom has a great history of gaming and was one of the first nations in the world to develop and create modern board games as we all know today.
some traditional pub games have been lost during the years, but some others  became worldwide famous and they’re still played  and loved by the new generations.  Dominos, skittles, table football, pub quiz games, those are the evergreen games still played around in all Great Britain’s pubs.
Played_at_ the_ pub_bookIf you want to learn more about this narrow and fascinating history, there’s an interesting book written by Arthur Taylor called “Played at the Pub: The Pub Games of Britain”, in which the author retrace all the most important stories and anecdotes related to pubs games, with images, narrations and attestations.
After reading this book next time  we go to our favorite pub we can explain ,during  a gaming,  contest to our friends all the real story of the most famous pubs games!

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hollywood If you think that celebrities spend all their lives attending charming events, party and others social life activities, you’re wrong. Celebrities too like sometimes, stay at home with their relatives or with their closest friends and spend some of their spare time like “average people” .
Not everybody knows that in their free time Celebrities like to play board games:
For example Madonna and Guy Ritchie are Scrabble fans, just like Keanu
Reeves, Mel  Gibson, Nicole Kidman, Justin Timberlake, Sharon Stone, Amy Winehouse and Gwuineth Paltrow.
Other Hollywood stars just like every kind of board game:
Angelina Jolie and Brat pit like playing family games with their children and Teresa Palmer, Tahyna Tozzi and Natalie Kelly, love to host pyjamas parties and  during the weekends playing board games.
Other celebrities just like old classics, Drew Barrymore, Ashton Kutcher, Erin O’connor and Eva Herzigova love dominoes, instead Ashlee Simpson and Craig David prefer Monopoly.
Chess too is very popular among celebrities and famous people, Bill Gates is a great chess players (off course, He’s good with mathematics calculations); U2 star Bono Vox usually plays chess with his band before or after live performances to relax a little bit; Nicolas Cage instead can’t find  a good chess opponent among his Hollywood friends, because he’s really good at it, and Sting always leave some time to play chess with his musicians.
Even heads of states and important politicians can’t resist playing games:
Queen Elizabeth II declared that sometimes she plays Scrabble, Obama said that he always plays board games with his daughters and Hillary Clinton, always plays card games with the members of her staff.
There are lots of celebrities who are totally crazy about role games like Dungeons and Dragons (Jennifer Lopez), and Master and Commanders (Russell Crowe).
However, for both celebrities and normal people board games are always a great way to put everything behind and have fun with the people we care about.

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Role game_boxI would like to start this new column, to explain and enlighten anyone interested to that particular form of gaming called role game.

Role games are now very popular all over the world. More than 1000 games were published after the first launch in 1974 of “Dungeons & Dragons”, the father of all modern role games; But, especially between non players, a lot of people don’t know what a role game is exactly, so I’ll try give a simple definition for it. A role game is a particularly form of gaming in which players pretend to be the characters of a story invented move after move by themselves, under the supervision of a Master (Narrator).

The Master expose a situation to the partakers and each one of them tells  what he would do to solve the dilemma and overcome the difficulties of the adventure; for example how to liberate a princes locked up in a remote fortress from an evil magician or how to prevent the outlaws from making robberies in the wild west.
Normally a role game is played around a table and if a player wants to do an action with uncertain results (like jump from a running train to fight against a dragon), throws the dices and the story change in a way or in another according to the dices’ score.

Who wins the role game?

Nobody wins, because role game is not about wining, is about narration and cooperation, the aim of every role game is to have fun and invent an all-involving story together.
And the Master? The Master doesn’t play, he only describes the game’s situations and coordinate players’ actions during the development of the story; he’s the supervisor and also leads all the others character of the story that interact with players’ characters (like the evil magician who locked up the princess in my example). The Master is the arbiter, the caretaker and the director of the role game.

How long does the group of players take to finish the role game?

A single story or an adventure can last for two hours to few months, but role game’s characters are like the protagonists of a literary saga or a television series : ended one story, they can be used for other adventures, improving their powers and shaping their temper with more accuracy.

The most amazing thing of the role game is that it has not boundaries, the only limit is your fantasy! This is the reason why Role Games are often called “the gym of  human creativity”.

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chess_historyIn history, the game of chess was always played by great leaders, scientists artist and geniuses.

Probably, leaders like Stalin; Lenin, Napoleon and Wellington, liked the game for the strategy and the war practices involved to defeat the opponent; maybe famous scientist like Benjamin Franklin, Galileo, Mendelejev, Blathy, Einstein, Oppenheimer appreciated the mind-game strategy and probabilities calculations; perhaps great writers such as Cervantes, Rabelais, Jean-Jacques Rosseau,Voltaire, Goethe, Sir Walter Scott, Edgar Allan Poe, Marx, Dickens, Tolstoi, Pierre Loti, Gide, Gorkij, Nabokov, Borges, loved the inner and unexpected plots development in the game, like a different version of an infinite ongoing saga; perchance painters like Matisse, Magritte, Duchamp, Ernst, loved the perfect forms and the symbolism of the pieces, combined with the chess board to form a perfect and always different artwork. We don’t know exactly why chess is so popular among intellectuals, but the fact is that since old times this incredible game has always had a fascinating power.

History is full of game anecdotes and famous challenges, like the famous dare between Albert Einstein vs Robert Julius Oppenheimer in Princeton in 1933. Einstein loved chess and after the publication of a pamphlet called “One Hundred Authors Against Einstein”, in which relativity theory was harshly criticized from those who believed that the speed of light was limited, the great physician answered in this way: “Chess grips its exponent, shackling the mind and brain so that the inner freedom and independence of even the strongest character cannot remain unaffected.”
Read the rest of this entry »

A role game is a unique world where individuals put their skills to interpret a fiction plot and explore its hidden and tricky aspects, developing actions and strategies to became  “experts” users of their fantasy alter egos; strong and well shaped characters able to challenge all the dares of the game.

role_game_map

Role game has two different kinds of authority in its hierarchy:
The Dungeon Master and the players’ characters.
The Dungeon Master has the power to influence all the player’s choices in the game with the application of the rules. This kind of situation is similar to school dynamics of interactions , where the teacher can be viewed as a Dungeon master and the scholars as the players of the game; that’s why in a lot of educational contests, role game is often used to teach and develop students’ skills.
Role play is a builder mechanism of destiny, faith, mission, and players have to build deep competences and overcome hard  difficulties to win the prize of best in class.
Role play is an exactly metaphor of the real world where you have to be smart and work hard to obtain success in your professional and  personal life; for this reason role game can favourite a goal oriented personality and prepare young people to the harsh and difficulties of our modern society.
Pedagogies and Educators agree on the fact that a kid playing a role game can learn commitment and improve his interior strength and of course have a lot o fun.
I personally think that role game is a great educational tool especially for those teachers and parents that have to deal everyday with exuberant teenagers and problematic children.

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