Old School Games We Love
We’re experiencing a decreasing trend in outdoor play. We see fewer children playing on the streets, families glued to their personal mobile devices during meal time and babies choosing tablets and tv shows over toys. As the world digitalises, we see less interpersonal interactions and more signs of inactivity and childhood obesity.
From iconic outdoor games like block catching to board games like monopoly, are our favourite childhood traditions becoming a mere thing of the past? Are familiar childhood games being replaced by online entertainment and games?
Here’s a list of 10 childhood games we loved and wish we could still indulge in:
Remember running across corridors and occasionally getting shouted at for breaking the neighbours’ potted plants? Those were the days we had energy to run from fuming aunties and race our friends up and down blocks and blocks of staircases. A favourite after-school activity, this game was the simplest of the lot - you just ran and ran till you got caught (or catch everyone, if you’re the “catcher”).
老鹰捉小鸡 (Eagle Catch Chicks)
A traditional children’s game from Taiwan, this game wreaked havoc on school courtyards and at HDB void decks. A game rather similar to “Catching”, 老鹰捉小鸡 brought out all our primal instincts - to catch our prey or to prevent ourselves from getting caught. With an Eagle (the “catcher”), a Hen (the “protector”) and the many chicks, this game was an exciting large group activity.
- The hen (usually the tallest/biggest person) would protect the chicks by stretching its arms out and running away from the eagle
- The chicks would stand in a line behind the hen, usually linked by holding the shoulder or shirt of the person before him/her. They would follow the hen’s movements and try not to get caught by the eagle.
- The eagle would try its best to catch all the chicks.
The eagle wins if it manages to catch all the chicks, and the hens and chicks win if they aren’t caught by the stipulated timing. A game that involved a lot of running, screaming, domino-effect falling and t-shirt stretching, this game definitely got our blood pumping and adrenaline rushing.
Eraser Flipping Game
These infamous country erasers doubled-up as toys, collectibles, possessions for barter trade, and even spinning tops (if you stapled them). They just weren’t good at their one job - erasing pencil marks. In an era where handphones and electronic devices weren’t allowed in schools, the eraser flipping game was a hot favourite among students. A game commonly played during recess, in between lessons and sometimes with your table buddy during lesson time… this game taught us that brute force doesn’t necessarily manifest into success. Sometimes strategy, sacrifice and patience are the most important values in life.
Players would sit in a circle and the first player would gather the sticks in a palm and let them fall onto the floor. The rules were simple - each player would have to pick up as many sticks as possible without touching or moving the other sticks. If another stick moves, the next player gets to start his/her turn. This game bases itself on patience and an extremely stable hand. It was a popular game to play when it was raining or too hot to be running outdoors.
Remember that annoying friend who kept tapping his/her own fingers so they could “split” later on in the game? The Chopsticks game could go on for a minute, or five, depending on how strategic both players are. A versatile game that can be played anywhere (because the game pieces are your fingers!!) and with anyone, we highly suspect that this game was invented by our Asian parents to teach us basic addition and subtraction.
Staying true to its name, this game might actually have caused some of us to have the weak hearts we have today. In the game that combines luck, deviousness and an awful lot of anxiety, players would follow the instructions below to win the game:
- Players would have to play a round of scissors-paper-stone and the loser of the first round would place his/her hand on the table.
- All players would then continue playing scissors-paper-stone and stack their losing hands on top of each others’.
- When all hands are placed in the stack, the person with his/her hand at the bottom of the stack (on the table) would have to remove his/her hand and compete with the latest winner.
- The goal of the game is for a player to have both his/her hands out of the stack.
The winner with both his/her hands out of the stack gets to countdown to the punishment. Using the syllables “Heart-A-ttack”, the winner would smack his/her hand on the stack - whoever couldn’t remove their hands fast enough would be victims of a huge, painful hit on the back of their hands. Here’s a slight mentally-twisted part. Most winners love having the power of everyone’s fates in their hands and would countdown really slowly to give a sudden attack. Heart Attack was definitely a thrilling and exciting game, but were the red, swollen hands and anxiety it gave us really worth it?
Monopoly has withstood the test of time. Its evolution from the original American Monopoly board to its current variety (Disney, Fortnite, Spongebob and even a Singapore board) has proven how successful the franchise is. From taxation to collusion, under-the-table negotiations and bankruptcy, the hours-long game helped players learn about economics and the real business world in a fun and thrilling way. “It’s just a game” definitely did not apply to this world-renowned friendship-ruining game.
A game that put our deduction skills to the test, Cluedo helped us realise all our detective dreams. From unsuspecting weapons to innocent-looking victims and rooms you’d never find in a Singapore HDB flat, this definitely was the most fun and interesting mystery-themed board game.
Let’s be honest, we all screamed “SNAP!!” at the top of our lungs as if volume affected the outcome of this game. This matching card game was played using either snap cards or poker cards, and rules were changed to intensify the game. This game trained us to be alert and fast thinkers and responders.
Old Maid / Donkey
With the goal of discarding pairs of cards and not being left with the old maid or lone donkey, this matching game is highly dependent on luck and chance. A game that is enjoyed by family and friends, this game is usually played at parties or gatherings.