Form of Folklore: Game

Informant Bio: The informant was born in Yerevan, Armenia, moved to Moscow, Russia at six months, then to Detroit Michigan at age three. Since she was five years old, she was raised in Glendale, California. Most of the folklore she knows is from her mother (passing down traditions she learned) and from peers at school. Her mother remains as her main source of cultural folklore (Armenian) whereas her friends in school exposed her to the folklore of American culture.

Context: The interview was conducted in the living room of the informant’s house in the presence of two other informants.

Item: Ok so you write down “MASH” at the top of the page; “MASH” stands for… “M” for Mansion, “A” for Apartment, “S” for Shack, and “H” for House and those stand for where you’re gonna live. Under that you make categories for “Husband”, “Wedding Dress”, “Cars”, “Pets”, “# of Kids”, and “Honeymoon”. Each category has one through four; the first three being what you’d like to happen, the last thing, what you wouldn’t want to happen. And then the person you’re playing with tells you when to stop as you’re making tally marks. And you stop and that’s the number you count to going around and around all these categories and crossing of when you stop at that number. And at the end you’re left with one thing in each category and that is supposed to be telling them their future and what will happen to them.

Informant Comments: The informer learned this game when she was in middle school. She does not believe it can actually predict the future; she used to play MASH as an entertaining game just to see what life (and which celebrity) she would end up with. Even though she never thought it would actually tell her about her future, she still felt a certain degree of disappointment when she did not get a future she was really fond of.

Analysis: MASH is a harmless game which is used as a way to predict the future lives of kids. It has an element of fear that the person MASH is being done for will end up with all of the things that they would not want to happen. Most children’s games do not have this quality; most have a happy ending no matter what. Also, this game introduces children to the idea of marriage and motherhood. It is clear that this is a game for females since it has categories like “Husband” and “Wedding Dress”. Many girls begin to think about their futures as a woman simply by playing this game that was intended to inform them of their futures. Though the game does not actually predict the future, it does make it a part of the reality that little girls will eventually have to deal with.