License Plate Game

Interviewer: Long drive.  Do you know any games you can play in a car?

Informant: Just a game that you play but it’s not a real game.  I used to play it on the way to, like, football games and stuff.  But now I usually have my phone.  Anyway it’s not real, it’s not a real game.

Interviewer: Sure it’s real.

Informant: You want me to tell you about it? It’s stupid. I still do it sometimes. I don’t really do it anymore.

Okay, so if you see a license plate from another state, you get to punch someone in the car once, and if it’s from another country, you get to punch him three times, and rare cars count too—like you can do punch buggy so you punch someone if you see a VW bug as well. And the new ones count too. Not just the old kind. I don’t really play that anymore, though.  Unless I’m with little kids.  And then sometimes I let them punch me because it doesn’t hurt.

Informant is sixteen and lives in a suburb; admits that many of his waking hours are spent in a car.  His unwillingness to admit to playing the game might indicate that he is transitioning out of the group it’s aimed at, which, in his estimation, is young children.   The reluctance to even discuss the game, based on the idea that games are for kids younger than he is, may indicate him wanting to be identified with an older group; he might also see himself as too advanced to need geography lessons from his parents while in the car, and too sophisticated to be excited by the novelty of seeing a license plate from another place, or an unusual car.