A Brief History of Cooperative Games

The cooperative games movement dates back to the 1960’s and 70’s. Early pioneers include:

Terry Orlick (Canadian professor of kinesiology; cooperative games inventor and researcher; Olympic coach; and personal performance expert)

Jim Deacove (owner of Family Pastimes games company and pioneering designer of cooperative board games)

Stewart Brand (author of The Whole Earth Catalog and Vietnam war veteran who invented “New Games”—games that emphasized playfulness and joy rather than winning)

Dale LeFevre (game inventor and author of several New Games books)

Pat Farrington (who was connected to the New Games movement but added the insight that trust and cooperation could be built into games so that her games were “not so much a way to compare our abilities but to celebrate them”)

Ken Kolsbun (previous owner of Animal Town, the first manufacturer of cooperative games in the United States and designer of the classic board game Save the Whales. )

CooperativeGames.com got its start in 2009 when Ken Kolsbun retired and Suzanne Lyons turned AnimalTown, aka Child and Nature, into the Internet’s first shop and resource center focused strictly on cooperative play.

Since the early 1970’s, and thanks to the effort and inspiration of the earliest innovators, cooperative games of all sorts (circle games, board games, PE games, ice breakers, educational games, etc.) have spread organically to homes, schools, camps, work places, churches, activist gatherings and other settings around the world syncing up in Europe with a long-standing tradition of “friend games.” Still, cooperative games have remained relatively unadvertised and have not been promoted or produced on a mass scale. This is a mixed blessing, but is perhaps a positive for the integrity of the field. They are a bottom-up rather than a top-down “reform”, evolving as more and more people creatively adapt the idea to their own uses.

As the need for greater cooperation at a societal level becomes clear, public awareness of cooperative gaming grows. The educational community is awakening to them since cooperative games are at the intersection of four major pedagogical trends:

• recognition of the value of play

• cooperative learning

• attention to school climate

• gamification of education for content learning

In addition, cooperative digital gaming is lately attracting the interest of academics and entrepreneurs who recognize that large-scale online cooperative gaming has applicability to sustainability and social justice issues. All factors are converging, and surely cooperative play is blossoming in exciting new ways.

For more on cooperative games, to purchase games, and find free ones, visit CooperativeGames.com.

Happy Playing!

Rethinking Youth Sports with Cooperative Games

hoop game imagesI enjoy reading the literature on cooperative games as do many people who come to my web shop CooperativeGames.com. I just read and now recommend  “Rethinking Youth Sports” by Ramsey and Rank, of the Georgia Parks and Recreation Department. PE teachers and camp counselors: this article on cooperative games is especially relevant to you!

The authors argue that youth sports promote aggression in kids. The reason, they say, is that kids learn a winner-take-all attitude by participating in sports and that fair play and sportsmanship are on the decline. They attribute this to general cultural influences as well as violent behavior among some high profile professional athletes in recent years. Sad if this is true, but in any case, Ramsey and Rank feel that cooperative games can do much to restore civil behavior and reduce aggression in kids’ sports. They provide the following examples of how individuals and organizations might enhance youth activities with cooperative games:

  1. Incorporate cooperative games as a key component of youth activities programs
  2. Work with local schools to provide support for physical education teachers, teachers, and playground leaders with cooperative games activities and strategies for implementation of cooperative games in the classroom. Do the same with daycare facilities.
  3. Establish a consortium or recreation provider agencies and focus on the positive aspects of youth sports, incorporating cooperative games as part of the process.
  4. Embody cooperative games into the “Benefits of Recreation” information provided by the National Recreation and Park Association, state park and recreation associations, and local park and recreation agencies.
  5. Sponsor a local workshop on “how-to” conduct cooperative games.
  6. Work with local youth sports organizations and share the values and benefits or cooperative games. Suggest strategies for implementing them as part of their regular youth sports programs.

See the entire article at http://ww2.valdosta.edu/~dcdurham/article_2.htm

Be sure to check the Fun and Free pages at CooperativeGames.com for free directions to cooperative games useful for PE classes. Also shop for books on cooperative games in our book section. Or, make up your own games! It’s easier than you may think.

 

Research Findings: Being on the Same Team, as We are in Cooperative Games, Promotes Helpfulness and Reduces Aggression

sun and kidsIn an experiment profiled in a recent British study1, students helped out a person who pretended to be hurt much more if they thought they were on the same soccer team as him. So it’s not just a person’s level of altruism, their beliefs about others, etc. Really we help one another out largely because we construe ourselves to be on the same “team”. The sense of being on the same team promotes helpfulness. Likewise, according to the book I am now reading The Psychology of Group Aggression2, construing another person as belonging to a different team promotes aggression! Plainly stated, when we think we are on the same side we tend to be nice—but put us on opposite sides, and the meanness comes out. Teachers, we can put this scholarship to good use: bring on the cooperative games! Kids of any age forget about group identification and who’s in and who’s out. For a time, they feel that they are on the same team. This promotes helpfulness and mitigating aggression.

Sources:

1. See: Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin at this address

http://view.exacttarget.com/?j=fe571576736502757013&m=fefc1273716707&ls=fdea1c7877670c7577127172&l=febe1677716d0278&s=fe171c787c62017d7d1375&jb=ffcf14&ju=fe2c15787162047c731776

2. See:  The Psychology of Group Aggression by Arnold P. Goldstein; John Wiley & Sons; © 2002

A Short History of Cooperative Games

Are Cooperative Games a recent innovation? Or is there a history behind this concept? Here is a capsule history.

The cooperative games movement in North America—the conscious attempt to use inclusive games that are based on cooperation rather than competition in order to have fun and promote healthy relationships and community—dates back to the 1960’s and 70’s. Early pioneers of the movement include Terry Orlick (Canadian professor of kinesiology, cooperative games inventor and researcher, Olympic coach, and personal performance expert); Jim Deacove (owner of Family Pastimes games company and pioneering designer of cooperative board games); Stewart Brand (author of The Whole Earth Catalog and Vietnam war veteran who invented New Games to provide games that emphasized playfulness and joy rather than winning); Dale LeFevre (author of several New Games books and inventor of and globe-trotting teacher of cooperative games), Pat Farrington who was connected to the New Games movement but added the insight that trust and cooperation could be built into games so that her games were “not so much a way to compare our abilities but to celebrate them”, and Ken Kolsbun (previous owner of Animal Town Games, the first manufacturer of cooperative games in the United States and designer of the classic board game Save the Whales). Thanks to these fun-loving social innovators and other contributors too, resources for playing cooperatively has grown over decades. Cooperative games of all sorts (circle games, board games, PE games, ice breakers, educational games, etc.) caught on and spread organically to schools, classes, schools, camps, churches, and other settings around the world syncing up in Europe with a long-standing tradition of “friend games.” Still, cooperative games have remained relatively unadvertised and have not been promoted at a mass scale. This is a mixed blessing, but is perhaps a positive for the integrity of the field. They’re a bottom-up rather than a top-down “movement”, evolving as more and more people creatively adapt the idea to their own uses.  Join us!

This little bit of history comes from CooperativeGames.com. Come visit us to learn more about cooperative games, pick up some free games, and shop for games for home, schools, and other organizational settings.

Take Care!

Suzanne Lyons (a mom, teacher, & founder of CooperativeGames.com)

Natural Easter Egg Dyeing with a Cooperative Flair

NaturallyDyedEggsST3 (1)Here is a cooperative play idea for the upcoming Easter holiday. You can make beautiful naturally dyed Easter eggs like the ones shown here using natural plant-based dyes. This works great. I did it last year and will do it again today. I got this method from the National Cooperative Grower’s Association (NCGA) website (StrongerTogether.coop)­, my go-to information source for everything related to food co-ops. Directions:

  1. The first step is to hard-boil your eggs. You’ll want to use white eggs. Use a stainless steel or glass pot. The water level should be a couple inches above the eggs. Let the eggs boil then simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon and let them dry.
  2. Refer to the chart below to decide which dye colors you will be using. Then make make your dyes.
  3. If you are doing this project with kids, I strongly recommend covering your work surface with newspaper and providing aprons for everyone.
  4. Dip your eggs into the dyes. Let sit until the desired shade is reached. Remove them and let them dry.
  5. Decorating Tips: You can wrap string around eggs before dyeing to make stripes. You can draw designs on the cooled eggs before you dip them too.
  6. The Cooperative Flair: Make egg dying a cooperative game activity by letting multiple people contribute to decorating the same egg. Remember Mr. Potato Head? Make Mr. Egg Head!  Everyone draws different features on the same egg with crayon before dying. With a little flour-water paste, stick some Easter Grass or shredded paper on Mr. Egg Head to make wacky hair. Make a full family of Egg-Heads too—Mr. and Mrs. and all the Egg Head children. Enjoy!

Easter Egg dye chart