Tuesday, January 13, 2009

This Is How I Play #4 –PDQM

Game: Today’s game was invented during one of the Philly jams. It is called PDQM. It doesn’t really stand for anything, just a combination of “Pretty Darn Quick” and “Quadrupedal Motion.” This game is a combination of PDQ and QM Tag.

Rules: All players must start the game on all fours. Any body configuration is acceptable, as long as all four limbs are touching the ground. The game begins like PDQ: each player counts off. No player may move until the player whose turn it is jumps into the air. The twist to this game is that the players must be on all fours. In order to tag someone out, you must tag someone’s hand with your hand, or their foot with your foot. When the player who is “it” is leaping, all other players may move to avoid or to tag someone else out.

Goal: To be the last player untagged.

Variation: Limb elimination. This is actually a pretty standard variant that we play by. If your left hand gets tagged, then you lose that hand, but you are still in the game. You only get “out” when you can no longer support yourself and a non-limb part of your body touches the ground (chest, butt, head, etc). If you lose two feet and a hand, you better hope you can balance on one hand.

Physical Benefits: This game combines the physical benefits of PDQ with QM tag. With the limb elimination modification, it force you to be able to balance in strange positions as well as move from strange positions with unusual restrictions. This game can tire you out more quickly than PDQ or QM tag, and it also is a lot of fun.

Other benefits: This game is an example of the creativity that can be applied to parkour and games. We had two games, and after some modifications to the rules, came up with an entirely new game. Creating games doesn’t have to be hard.

Homework: I want everyone to do this as a creativity exercise. Pick two games. Review the rules in your head quickly, and then figure out a way to combine them. The new game doesn’t have to work well, or be fun, and you don’t even have to play it! Just synthesize a set of rules for a new game from two pre-existing games. I want everyone who reads this to do this exercise three times, and then post the best game you come up with in the comments of this article. Your brain is just like a big muscle. The more you work it, the stronger it gets. The more you use your creativity, the more creative you get. So start exercising your creativity, and let me see what you come up with.

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

This Is How I Play #3 - QM Tag

Game: This next game is called QM (Quadrupedal Movement) Tag. It's a popular variation on regular tag, except you have to stay on all fours the entire time. These game is a lot of fun, but also is quite the workout as it encourages some mad scrambles to get away.

Rules: The rules are pretty simple. Usually I designate a specific area the players must stay in. This keeps the game fast and intense, and prevents people from spreading out too far. In order to tag someone, you must tag their elbows. This makes it a bit more difficult to tag other players.
Goal: For the player who is “it” to tag another player's elbow.

Physical Benefits: For anyone who hasn't tried it, QM is a fantastic full body exercise. Essentially, walk around on your hands and feet with your hips and shoulders low to the ground – the lower the harder! Once you've walked around like this for a while, try doing it backwards. And then do it up and down stairs, or all around the house. Once you're comfortable with walking around like this, try to balance (not while playing tag though!) and walk on a railing or on top of a fence on all fours.

QM Balancing

Other benefits: In addition to making you stronger, compound, full body movements like this teach your brain how to use muscles together, instead of just individually. Whenever you learn a new movement, whether it's QM, juggling, or playing piano, you are actually constructing new neural pathways in your brain. People, especially children, who stimulate their brains in new ways will continue to develop more neural pathways. These people tend to have more active, creative, and powerful brains. By learning how to move in new and creative ways, you can actually get smarter!

Another added plus, it's a pretty effective method of wearing your kids out.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

This Is How I Play #2 - PDQ

Game: The first game is called PDQ, or Pretty Darn Quick. This is an incredibly popular parkour game, where the basic objective is to jump on peoples' feet. This is actually one of the more complicated games, it usually takes a practice game for everyone to get the hang of it. I often play a “demo game” as I'm teaching it, so people can see the rules and their effects.

Rules: You start in a circle and everyone puts one first in the center. Someone (usually the winner of the last game) picks a random person, taps their fist, and counts “one,” moves to the next person in the circle, “two” and so on until everyone has been numbered. Once everyone has a number, everyone shouts “One, two, three, PDQ!” and everyone simultaneously takes one jump away from the center.

At this point, you continue in number order (“one” is first, “two” is second, etc). When it is your turn to go, your goal is to jump on someone else's foot. No one can move until you are in the air, however. If you feint and pretend to jump and someone else moves their feet, then they are eliminated. If you jump and land on someone's feet, they are eliminated.

The interesting twist to this game is... you can only jump when the person who is “it” is in the air. However, if you jump and land on someone else's feet, you can still get them out even though it isn't your turn.

Goal: The game continues until only one person remains.

Example Game: John, Sue, Peggy, and Roger are playing PDQ. John is player #1, Sue is player #2, Peggy is player #3, and Roger is player #4.

Round #1: John jumps into the air and lands on Roger's left foot. Roger is out. Sue and Peggy both jump away from John.

Round #2: Sue jumps towards John, but John jumps towards Peggy and lands on her feet. Peggy is out.

Round #3: John feints, but Sue doesn't fall for it. John then jumps, but Sue jumps straight up and lands on John's feet. John is out. Sue wins the game.

Physical Benefits: This game is nothing more than jumping, but it turns it into a very enjoyable and competitive game. It's not highly physically demanding, but it is a great method of training for jumping, as well as precision landings.

Other Benefits: This is quite a fun game because it is actually a bit taboo. We've always been told not to step on people's feet... but now we're supposed to! If you present it to kids this way, they can get really excited about it. This is also a very flexible game; it can be scaled to any number of people. I've played with only my sister, and then I've played a game with 45 other people. The more people there are the more hectic it gets, with people jumping at you from all directions.

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Sunday, January 4, 2009

This Is How I Play: Introduction

This post is an introduction to a blog series I will be publishing over the next month called “This Is How I Play.” The inspiration for this comes from a book I'm reading, Exuberant Animal, by Frank Forencich. In one of his articles he claims that we “study and test, research and measure, drilling our knowledge down to the deepest levels, and then we wonder why people find exercise so dull and unattractive. We strip human movement down to the sterile elements of anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics and then complain that no one wants to participate.”

I don't agree with this quote 100%, especially for high level athletes, but I think that a lot of fitness programs (especially for school-aged children) should pay a lot of attention. If games were emphasized as the primary method of physical activity, it will not only be more effective but also will be a lot more enjoyable. And that's really the secret to a successful fitness program. If exercise can be made fun, then people will WANT to come back and participate again; they will enjoy and look forward to it.

I'm not talking about sports however – there's a huge difference between sports and games. Sports are fantastic – for athletes. But if you aren't an athlete, you probably aren't going to have many opportunities to play sport-games. Even when you do play a pickup game, there is often equipment, a large number of people, or a specific location necessary for that sport. In order for the game to be played all of these conditions must be met, and that is often very difficult to plan and organize. Then there's the potentially humiliating experience of picking teams and, once the game starts, not being passed to or truly included.

The kind of games I'm talking about are more free-form and creative. Things that really engage the imagination, and don't necessarily have a lot of rules. During this series, I'm going to be giving examples of a lot of different games. Some are games developed by the parkour community, some are games I've developed, and others are just random games that I've come across in my travels. For most of the games, I have also listed one or two variants or combinations, a way to develop a whole new game simply by changing the rules or mixing it with another game.

Creativity and imagination is fundamental to what makes us human, but many kids aren't given the opportunities to exercise their brains and their body together. Encourage your kids to create their own games to play, or you can use these games, or make up your own variations of these games to play! Most of these games can be played without any equipment and can be played by anyone, five to fifty five, skinny or heavy, male or female.

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