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Major problems in the playing of war or wide games are 1) the amount of roughness allowed, 2) the size of the area,  3) the amount of cover or darkness in the playing area, 4) dividing the group into teams.

The biggest problem in wide or war games is defining the degree of roughness that will be allowed or tolerated by the group.  The two areas in which this comes are the capture of prisoners and the killing of opponents.  Especially in Boy Scouts do we have a problem with the difference in size, age and abilities of the players.

The definition of capture or kill is difficult in that how subdued must a player be to be considered captured or killed.  In the real wars, capture occurs only when the captured person decides to quit resisting, either because he is physically completely unable to resist further, due to wounds, fatigue or restraints, or he makes the choice to become a prisoner rather than be killed or damaged by further escaping or resisting.  Obviously the second option is not open to us in playing.  The first is possible, but is the ultimate of roughness.  It is very difficult to achieve, making the game turn on either a group overcoming an individual, or a wrestling/tying contest.  If these are not desired in the game, or the object of the game would be damaged by the need for wrestling then some other option must be accepted.  The possible actions that could result in capture or kill are varied and some are summarized below:

 TAGGING:  The mere touching of the opponents body is the most commonly used means of capture or subduing.  This is most well known in the common game of tag as played by school children.  It merely requires a matching or greater speed and agility on the part of the capturer, not a difference in size or strength.  Variations upon tagging are limiting the portions of the body that must be tagged, or requiring both hands of the capturer to tag the opponent at the same time.  For instance, tagging behind, below the waist, or the two handed tag, or the combination, two hands, behind, below the waist.

 POCKET FLAGS:  Many times the teams will be required to have a flag or handkerchief hanging out of a specific pocket.  To lose this flag is to be captured or killed.  This is best known in the game of flag football.  Again, this required only speed and agility.  Size and strength are not as important.

 DYE PELLET GUNS:  These are expensive and hard to come by.  In large, organized games, they are useful, simulating the real situation as close as can be done.

 TACKLE:  Having to tackle or force to the ground to capture, requires much in strength and size and makes them determinants in the game.  (One can have the larger players give in to the smaller players, but this hurts the game for the larger players.)   If the group is uniform enough, or strength and size are desired aspects of the game, this is a possible option.  Tackling entails quite a degree of roughness and risk and these must be understood and accepted by all playing.

 TYING OR BINDING:  This is a very rough and risky definition of capture or kill, especially if resistance is permitted.  Certain rules (e.g. nothing around the neck, careful of overtightening, protection from injury by falling or environment, degree of harassment permitted) must be defined before play and adhered to.  It also involves some skills which may or may not be desired in the game.

 FORCIBLY RESTRAINING OR MANUALLY HOLDING:  This all too often degenerates into a wrestling match, unless a time limit is established.  Many of the traditional games set a ten count as the length of holding required to define capture.  In the game of Penetration, when played in the open, small areas for short rounds, holding makes for a fun game.  But usually is far too much work and far to reliant on differences in size, weight, wrestling ability, etc. to be of much use.

Some games call for the maintenance of prisons and prisoners.  In the real war, the Geneva Conventions are hopefully followed.  The problem can be eliminated by playing "no capture."  That is, no prisoners are taken and all captured are considered dead.  Most of our games are for such short times that such problems as feeding, bathroom privileges, sleeping conditions, protection from the elements, etc. are not problems.  Our problems lie in keeping the prisoner in, how if at all, can he be released to reenter play, and length of rounds so as to keep boredom to a minimum.  Certain items should probably rarely, if ever, enter into our play.  These would include torture, harassments, punishments, stripping, improper or lack of protection from weather and environment. and prolonged binding, tying or blindfolding.

If the game is to include forcible restraining, it must be well defined.  Penetration requires this.  As we usually play it, tying is used, and safety rules established.   Manual holding is rough and tiring.  Tying in prisons would be very unusual and should be carefully defined before the game starts.

Prisoner transport is a problem and could be defined in various ways.  Usually once a player is captured, he is considered captured until released according to the rules of the game being played.  Transport could be handled by tying hands or the use of leg or ankle shackles.  This would have to be agreed upon before play starts.  Another means would be to require physical contact  with the prisoner.  If contact is lost through fault of the capturer, the prisoner must be recaught according to the rules of the game being played.  This may be the rule is such games as Capture the Flag.  Terms of the contact and amount of resistance on the part of the prisoner can be defined in various ways to make for variation and control of the degree of roughness and fair play.

If, as in Capture the Flag, a prison is used and release is a possibility, it must be defined.  The easiest definition of release is tagging or sharing of a flag.  i.e.  If a prisoner is tagged by a player of his team, he is free and back in the game.  Sometimes he must touch a base or get another flag before he can reenter the game.  If the game involves objects thrown, as in War Ball,  the prisoner could be released if he catches a ball thrown by a member of his team.

If the game is to have long rounds, the group may decide that players captured will join the capturing side.  This calls for a flexibility on the part of the players.  However it is an excellent means of not having someone sit out too long and avoids the problems of prison and release therefrom.  Boredom and not returning for future sessions is a real problem if the rounds are too long.  Another suggestion is that those caught may be tied.  When they have gotten themselves out of the tie, or a teammate has untied them, they are back into the game.  This can be controlled by limiting the amount of rope (say two pieces 8' long for each player to carry.) available.  Of course, for safety, a tied player may not be left alone, and thus the tying would have to be in a predetermined area.  This prevents losing a player tied far out in the field, but brings up the problem of guards or observers.

At times, a group will want to go "all out."  Short of having something to replace the gun as an enforcer and controller, it is very difficult and touchy.  Even with definations and agreements before starting, all players will have to watch that no player becomes mad.  All of us have taboos and limits to what we will allow done to ourselves.  These vary greatly between individuals.  Many times even in full discussion these are not mentioned, or thought of, or are considered to be obvious.  e.g. Tickling is tolerated by most youth, but found intolerable by others.  If a person who could not tolerate tickling was in a game which allowed tickling, trouble would ensue.  Also, definitions of fairness are often assumed.  At times, a player gets along well until he accidentally gets slugged, or into a losing position, then he loses his cool.  I suggest that groups that want to go "all out" sit down and discuss at length the possible situations.  They should then play several rounds over several weeks, gradually increasing the roughness allowed.  This allows those who wish to opt out to do so.  At all times, each player must be careful of the attitudes and moods of the other players.  The group should also practice the Golden Rule.  i.e. They must not do to others what they would not allow done to themselves.

Most of the youth prefer very interactive games.  I remember a game of Capture the Flag we one time played over about ten acres of heavily wooded land.  The game became a search and tactical game rather than much interaction with the other team.  On the other hand, one of the most fun games of Capture the Flag I ever played was played on a football field.  The type of game desired dictates the size of the area on which the game is played.  If extensive searching is desired, a larger area is utilized.  If more interaction is desired, a smaller area is defined for the field of play

Penetration played in very dense cover at night almost ensures that the penetrators will get through.  On the other hand, if it is played across an  open area in the daylight, the penetrators will seldom get through.  Convict Search played at night with much cover is a game entirely of search.  Some players may prefer this.  It is more exciting played in a more limited area, with a small amount of cover.  The amount of cover and amount of darkness at the time of the game will affect the decision as to which game, and by what rules it will be played.

This can be a real problem.  If captains are chosen, and they pick alternately, the same boys are left to last each time.  This makes for unhappiness.  If the group is lined up and numbered alternately one, two, the size or strength of one team may be more than the other team.  If random pulls from the hat are done, the teams, again may be uneven.  If the leader assigns the teams, nobody is happy, and usually the game doesn't last long.  If natural patrols are used, most often numbers don't match up.  Over the years, I have found that using captains who pick is usually the most acceptable to the youth, especially in a group where the players know each other well.  (Many group leaders decry and criticize this option, but it seems to make for the greatest happiness.  Most of the youth do recognize their strengths and weaknesses. If strengths are found in the various activities of the group for all and the captains are fair, it works out best.  The trick is educating the group so that the captains pick without hurting feelings.)  Changing the composition of the teams frequently helps.  This can be done after a pre-set number of rounds, or as the game played changes.  At different game sessions, the team composition should be rechosen.

In many games, the groups do not need, in fact should not be, equal in number, size, strength, speed or any other factor.  Examples here are Penetration,  Ambush, Infiltration.  In other games the groups should be equaled in some fashion.  Examples are Ditch'em, War Ball.  The teams may be made equal by having fewer large players on one team playing against more smaller players on the other.  Some games, such as Penetration or Convict Search are best played with one or two it, versus the group.  It may be rotated so all get to play the lead role.

In the descriptions of the games,  I have deliberately not been specific in the rules of play.  I have done this for two reasons.  The first reason is to allow the youth leaders room to experiment and adjust the games to the situations in which they are played.  This includes players' age, personality, desires, size, abilities, etc. and the playing conditions of type and size of field, amount of light, weather, time etc.  The second is to allow the games to be adjusted as to the above conditions.

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Wide Game Parameters:
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  Specific Game to be played

 Division into Teams

  Selection Process  Identification of teams  Boundaries  Starting  Maneuver and Strategy  Capture and Roughness  Prisons  Length of Rounds          To Games

Game Characteristics:
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A Game has five essential elements or imperatives to be considered a game.  These are:

 Element of Chance or Application of Skill
 Challenge to Player
 No other object than the experience of the game is achieved.  (i.e. no production of services or goods)

In our games, we must also apply the Imperative of Fairness,

There are also five characteristics of an ideal game.  These are:

easy to learn the rules
playable at many levels of skill
challenging to the game audience (participants)
Fit the time, situation, boundaries, etc. at the time of playing.

Golf, tennis and chess are examples of near perfect games.

Games are based on several principles:

 1.  The Game is playable at various levels of skill., allowing more to partake.
 2.  The Game is easily explained and understood by those desiring to play.  (The degree of difficulty can vary from Tag to "Go," but must be acceptable to those desiring to learn.
 3.  The Game is a challenge and fun for the players involved.  (Boys 11-18 will not play Ring around the Rosy, or London Bridge is Falling Down.)
 4.  The Game fits into the time, location, age group, situation parameters.  (We don't list "Run for the Sun" as that game involves going as far west as possible before sunset ; the individual furthest west at sunset wins.  Obvious difficulties with time, space, property, judging and returning)
 5.  The Game reflects the culture it is played in.  (The multiple parameter games of today did not exist in the Native American Culture, or even when I was 11 - 18.  Many of the Native American games involve too much endurance for our Youth to play them.  Yet, childrens' games are one of the most constant aspects of human culture, reflecting the constancy and basic similarities of human cultures. cf. the painting Children at Play by Bruegel.)
 6.  The Game has some aspect of satisfaction when completed. (There is a culture that runs races, the goals of which are for all runners, while all running hard, to finish at the same time.  Competition, and winning, but also cooperation, learning, skill mastery, exercise, or just simply a pleasant time are all suitable goals.)

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Game Structures:
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Games and  Competitons can be constructed in many different forms.  Below are a listing of numerous forms that are possible, and samples of each.  This list is not all inclusive, other forms are possible.  Also, many variations and comibnations of the structures presents are possible.


Relays Skill Performance Cumulative List: Listing Bee

Scavenger or Treasure Hunt



Baseball Tic-Tac-Toe Raceway Skill Pursuit Skill or Consequence Skill, Skill Skill, Triple Skill Skill Roulette Crooked Path Skill King Jeopardy Pictionary:
  Challenge Ring: Twenty Questions: