Friday, July 31, 2015

Anatomy of Creating a New Game: GI Joe

Former students may recall that I loved to invent and adapt new games, both for indoor and outdoor recreation.  Many games I taught my classes were taken from The New Games Book,  volumes I and II.  Creating Math games was a fun way to practice less-than-fun concepts in a meaningful way.

Well, I'm still at it. Let me explain the latest "New Game."
It all started when I was at the recycling center and Judy noticed that a printing company had dumped stacks and stacks of these GI Joe posters.  We can't fathom why, but we rescued many dozens, hoping to share and re-purpose them.

The poster depicts GI Joe in 247 different outfits (13 x 19).
The game I created works like this. (Any of the details can be varied; games evolve according to your purpose).
Two players each place 4 (or more) toy soldiers on their side of the playing board (the poster).  Each players soldiers need to be distinguishable, either by color or some other characteristic.
Using a six-sided die or a spinner from any game, players alternate making moves.  On a turn, a player can move only one soldier, but in any direction: forward, backward, sideways, or diagonal. However, the soldier cannot change directions on the same turn.  If your roll of the die lands you directly on an enemy soldier, that piece is destroyed and removed (with all the sound effects you desire).  You can even whack him, but take care not to disturb the whole "battlefield."

By positioning players within striking distance of each other, risk is involved.  You may move within 3 spaces of an enemy, but if the opponent rolls a 3, YOU will become the victim.  Likewise, if you have two soldiers within 6 spaces of an enemy, you may have 2 possible numbers that would give you victory, but so would your opponent.  If an opponent develops a numerical advantage, you may develop defensive strategies and with lucky rolling, even the game up.
I would not suggest allowing too many playing pieces, but you can experiment. If there are a lot of soldiers, almost any roll of the die could result in a "kill," and that might be fun, too.

I hope you don't think this game is too violent.  I always thought playing army was a safe way to play out aggressions.  And all the plastic soldiers come back to life at the end of a game.

Using real action figures adds to the atmosphere, but you could just as easily use tokens from another game or even coins.  Use your imagination and I bet you can come up with a game better than this one.

And for anyone who has read this far, all you have to
do is contact me to get a free GI Joe poster.  You supply 
your own game pieces.  Happy Gaming!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Mattresses, Microwaves, Belts, and Hoses: Are we getting HOSED?

In trying to be eclectic, I decided to investigate mattress makers' claims that the weight of your mattress doubles in 10 years.  I found that the scientific investigators scoffed at such a ridiculous claim.  Only commercial mattress websites and light-weight glamour/consumer chat sites gave it any credibility.

 Since most of the weight of a mattress is from its springs, no amount of dead skin, dust mites (plus their poop) could conceivably add significantly to the weight, even in 100 years.  Plus, these items could only add to the outermost layers.  I've beat a lot of dust out of some throw rugs over the years, and I've never noticed one seeming even a tad lighter when I brought it back inside.  And these are rugs that are walked on daily.  I think the mattress "urban legend" was perpetrated by the industry, following suit with all manner of extended warranty scams and the like.

When we bought our last mattress we were told it was good for about 14 years.  Now the same one is being advertised as an 8 year mattress.  Remember when auto parts places started pushing "replacing your hoses and belts every four years"?  Aside from the fact that many people don't even keep a car that long, the recommended practice is to have your mechanic check hoses and belts whenever your car is serviced.  It's not hard to detect cracked or damaged parts well before they'll give you a problem.

 I still think the solution to falling for items like these  is better teaching for critical thinking at early ages.  But I'm afraid too many gullible adults are not qualified to provide the training.  Let's be skeptical of advertising claims, but not paranoid.  Let's buy into common sense, not nonsense.  We'll sleep better.