The best sort of game to play as a kid is the outside game.
An outside game works like this:
- Pick which game you’re going to play, e.g. “Ninja Turtles” or “Power Rangers” or even something original like “In this world there is a portal behind the stage that takes you to another world, which is just like this one but different, and you can be any character you want!”
- Decide which character each player is going to be, like “Leonardo” or “Jason” or “Piccolo” and if more than one player wants to be the same character, work it out, like oldest picks first or “We’ll just have two Leonardo’s”
- Find equipment and props, like fake plastic swords, or fake guns or sticks you can pretend to be either, or model your own out of Omegle.
- Run around and pretend to be fighting the bad guys. Say the dialogue your character says, and the dialogue the bad guys say.
- Every few minutes stop and make sure you agree on what the story is. Any player can say “Wait, make it that X” and X is now true in the world of the game.
- When the bell goes, or your friend’s mum comes to pick them up and take them home, try to remember where you stopped. “Where are we up to in the GAME?” is an often heard whine at the start of Big Lunch.
I can’t have been more than twelve years old when Pokemon first aired on Cheez TV. Having read about the game and how big it had hit in Japan in NMS and N64 Gamer magazines, both Ryan and myself were super excited to hear Jade announce a new show: “Here’s Pokemon!”
When the show ended, we immediately went outside to start a Pokemon outside game. We only played for a few minutes. Something felt off, but we attributed it to fighting with monsters you throw out being boring instead of fighting yourself. Even Ryan’s idea to have the same powers your Pokemon has didn’t work. Besides, we didn’t know the world enough.
Neither of us wanted to admit it.
That holidays, I went away to see my dad and got Zelda 64 for Christmas. Ryan played it too, and the first time he came over after I got back home, our imaginations were captured and we both wanted an outside game. This time it was going to be right!
I was always the barbarian or fighter, so I got to work fashioning a sword and shield – my best ever sword, with a guard and THREE long pipes to the two I usually used. Ryan, black mage, made a magic staff and fitting the musical theme of the game, an over the shoulder magic harp. We spent longer than we ever had making the props, and they were the best yet. This time it was going to be right!
We can’t have played more than five minutes before we stopped, looking at each other defeated and embarrassed. We said nothing as we walked inside, because nothing needed to be said.
The magic was gone.