Leadership Notes #34 – New Games & the New Games Movement

(This series of “notes” first appeared in the YahooGroup “VenturingList” and are written by Michael Brown. I thought that they were worth sharing with the Commissioner Corps.)

The New Games Movement is something that grew out of the counter culture of the late 1960s. It aimed to provide a new experience for people, one that brought people together, rather than create divides. There is a big element of cooperation to the games. While there may be some competition in some of the games, being a winner isn’t important. (“You won the game, great! You get to start the next one”) And the idea is that EVERYONE is engaged. There are no spectators, and even the referees get in on the fun. One of the first of the New Games was the use of an “earthball”, a large (6 foot diameter), inflated ball with the globe painted on it. It was used at the first New Games Festival in 1973. The motto of New Games, emblazoned on the back of their t-shirts is: “Play Hard, Play Fair, Nobody Hurt”.

Stewart Brand, the man behind such work as the “Whole Earth Catalog” and related efforts, was the man behind it all. Out of that festival was established the New Games Foundation, which organized further festivals and provided training and more.

Soon, two books were written: “The New Game Book” (1976), and “More New Games” (1981). While out of print, these are excellent resources for these games. They provide a wide range of New Games for different size groups, and the first book explains how to organize a New Games Festival. Hmmm, maybe this could be done as part of a council or area venturing event?? And note that there is some overlap with the adventure games and activities covered in previous Notes, so these games are a good fit into that mix. These games are a great way to bring together a group of people, whether your crew or council.

The New Games Foundation came to an end in 1990. Those involved with it have moved on to other activities. Only a few still keep the spirit alive, organizing festivals, providing training, and the like.

The main person `carrying the torch’ for the movement seems to be Dale Le Fevre (http://inewgames.com/). He provides training, DVDs, and books on the topic. While at the New Games Foundation, he was the one who developed and organized the training sessions they provided. You can get a free “starter kit” on New Games at his site. His first book was “New Games for the Whole Family” (1988), revamped recently as “The Spirit of Play” (2007) (the two books are essentially the same). He also has “Best New Games” (2002) and “Parachute Games”. In addition, he rents and sells equipment, such as Earthballs, and provides various resources at his site, including videos.

Bernie DeKoven (http://www.deepfun.com/) is a former director of the New Games Foundation who is still involved in game design and keeps a blog. He has provided New Games training. At his site he sells his books, such as “Junkyard Sports” (2004), “Great Games for Big Activity Balls” (2009) and “The Well-Played Game” (third edition, 2002). The first two books are game resources, while the third book is a more philosophical work on the value of play.

As noted, for leaders, these New Games can be a great addition to your resources of cooperative games. And also consider that these can be great programmatic resources for your crew, or even for council or area events…

Here are some videos: Dale Le Fevre on New Games: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QjDAMJs0zs Dale Le Fevre on the benefits of New Games: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzpHiRmrdYU.