Playing Indoor Games
IN THE evenings, and especially during winter months, outdoor activities may be limited. What can you do for entertainment within your own home?
Watching TV is a favorite pastime. Yet it tends to kill conversation, severely limiting any real interchange between persons. How, then, can families enjoy themselves together?
Some outdoor sports can be played in a scaled-down, modified form within the home. Tennis is an example; in many homes table tennis is popular. Some families have set up a table in their basement or in a spare room, providing a fine source of entertainment for the whole family and for visitors.
Bowling is another sport that can be scaled down and modified for home play. Smaller pins, perhaps of plastic, can be used, and the bowling balls may be of similar material. Even tennis balls can be used if the pins are light enough.
Pool has long been a popular indoor game. Local pool halls, however, have generally been a poor environment. So some families have put a pool table in their home, and have spent happy hours playing together and with their friends. Other persons enjoy playing many different types of card games.
Providing home entertainment is big business, as shown by the more than 30-percent increase in sales of United States’ toy and game manufacturers in a recent year. Particularly popular are video games. Millions of people have purchased remote control sets that can be fastened to their TV’s. These make possible the playing of electronic tennis matches, baseball games, chess, and so forth.
Games played on a board account for a large part of the sales of game manufacturers. Monopoly, a game of buying and selling real estate and railroads, has long been the most popular. More than 80 million sets have been sold world wide since 1934, when the game first went on sale in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In the United States alone, some $40 billion in Monopoly money was printed in 1975, nearly twice the amount of real money printed by the U.S. Mint that year. Monopoly is played in some 46 countries, the dollars in various countries becoming francs, marks, pesetas, yen, and so forth.
Backgammon, probably the oldest of the board games, is resurging in popularity. In the ruins of the ancient Chaldean city of Ur, archaeologists unearthed a still-playable backgammon set. The ancient Egyptians and Romans also played it. Contributing to backgammon’s popularity is the fact that it is easy to learn, yet is very difficult to master. And, of course, chess is another board game that has long provided many persons much pleasure.
Very entertaining, too, are word games, which are excellent for increasing one’s vocabulary. A favorite is Scrabble, which grew out of the idea of crossword puzzles. Originated in the 1930’s, it did not really catch on until about 1953. Now millions of these board games are sold each year.
Inventing Your Own Games
The entertainment you enjoy, however, does not have to be games that others have invented. You can make up your own. Although not exactly a game, one middle-aged gentleman tells of some family-originated entertainment that brought him particular pleasure. “My four little nephews and nieces, about ages 10 to 15, advised us earlier that the following evening they were going to perform for us. They worked out a real program of song and dance routines, with the 10-year-old serving as master-of-ceremonies. They kept us thoroughly entertained for an hour or more.”
A married couple living in northern Germany decided to make a game of teaching their children about peoples of other countries. They would pretend to take trips to various places. As a highlight, they would have a meal typical of the pre-selected land. Then they would spend the evening discussing the country, looking at pictures of it, and telling their children something about its characteristics and customs.
One evening this family was scheduled to “fly by jet” to Japan. The children were shown how to sit on the floor, Japanese-style, and how to eat with chopsticks. Of course, anyone who has ever eaten with chopsticks, or at least tried to eat with chopsticks, knows that the first attempt is not easy. At one point little four-year-old Andrea pleaded: “Daddy, let’s fly back to Germany!” Though most families will overlook such possibilities for entertainment, don’t you see how interesting they could be?
In many countries it is popular to pantomime Bible stories, letting the guests guess who or what is meant. Noah at work building the ark, David defeating Goliath, Ruth working in Boaz’ field, and many other popular stories can be easily and briefly pantomimed. Whoever gives the correct answer can present the next dramatization, with no one doing it twice until all have had a turn.
Another possibility is to use recorded sounds from the kitchen, from one’s place of employment or from other places, and then play them for the group to identify. Or it may be that the game is to identify the source of the sound that a person is making from behind a curtain. Is it the tearing of paper, the opening of a bottle, the cracking of a nut, and so forth?
Group singing can also be real entertainment. And rather than being content with just knowing and singing the melody, why not branch out and learn the other parts—alto, tenor, bass—of a song? Learning to sing four-part harmony can be extremely entertaining and beneficial.
Self-made “Card Games”
Many have had fun playing the following games: First, cut from cardboard or heavy paper 20 or more playing cards. Then paste pictures on them in matching pairs, so that you have about 10, or, if the players are more experienced, preferably more matching pairs. After mixing the cards, lay them face down. Each player, in turn, is then allowed to pick up two. Should he pick up two with the same picture, he may keep them. Otherwise, the cards must be returned to their original position. When the player fails to pick up cards with matching pictures, it is the next player’s turn. The goal is to see who will be able to pick up the highest number of matched cards. So the challenge is to try to remember which picture you saw where.
Here is another possibility: List on cards the occupation of a certain Bible character, some of his outstanding qualities or characteristics, plus events in which he was involved. Some of the clues can be easy, others more difficult. Each player, in turn, reads one clue after another from his card until someone in the group guesses who the individual is.
Another game might be called “Let’s Find a Scripture.” Cards are passed out that each list a situation, such as the following: A workmate complains about the high cost of living; a mother has trouble controlling her unruly son; a school friend is considering trying out drugs. Each person reads the situation noted on his card and everyone tries to find an appropriate Bible text to handle it. A time limit can be imposed to keep the game from getting draggy, after which the various suggestions can be discussed.
A popular game played at many social gatherings can best be described by the title “Who Am I?” Names of Bible personalities are written on large cards, or pieces of paper, and pinned on the backs of persons who want to play. The person does not know whose name is pinned on his back. He must try to find out the name of the person pinned on his back by asking questions such as, “Did I live before the birth of Jesus?”; “Was I a king?”; “A faithful king?” and so forth. Only “yes,” or “no” and “I don’t know” answers are permitted.
A word of caution is in order. A host should make sure that his guests feel relaxed. Not all may wish to participate in games. They may prefer to observe; this may bring them greater enjoyment. So don’t insist on full participation. Also, select games that suit the persons present. The games shouldn’t be overly complex or difficult. And try to avoid letting a spirit of competition develop so that some feel embarrassed or depressed because they can’t do as well as others.—Gal. 5:26.
Word and Letter Games
You can play a simple word game by someone’s mentioning the name of a Bible character. The next person must respond with a Bible character whose name begins with the last letter of the previously mentioned name. For instance, if the first person says Adam, then the next could say Moses, the next, Saul, and on down the line. You may make it more challenging by requiring that the same name not be used twice. In a similar game, the players go through the alphabet, each person saying the name of a Bible character whose name starts with the succeeding letters of the alphabet, a-b-c, and so on.
If you are ready to pass out paper and pencils, you could play a game popular in Sweden called a word square. Each player draws four horizontal and four vertical lines inside a square space, thereby dividing the space into 25 boxes. Then each player, in turn, calls out a single letter of the alphabet, which every player enters into any one of the 25 boxes of his square. These cannot be moved to other boxes later. The object is to form as many words, both horizontally and vertically, as possible. Such word-forming games can do wonders for your spelling ability.
A game or two may be sufficient to liven up an evening and provide material for further conversations. Do not wear out your guests by playing too long or playing just one game too much! This can be just as boring and tiring as letting the evening drag by doing nothing.
There are indeed many forms of entertainment from which to choose. The right kind can refresh the mind and heart, bringing pleasure and removing boredom. So don’t ignore the need for entertainment. Yet, at the same time, don’t become a lover of pleasures rather than a lover of God. (2 Tim. 3:4) Keep entertainment in its proper place.