The informant is the sixteen-year-old sister of a friend of mine who lives in Rye, New York. She reminded me of a game we invented as kids and used to play whenever we were at each other’s houses.
Note: The initials OF denote the informant, while A refers to me, the interviewer.
OF: So. basically, it’s hide-and-seek, but also freeze tag, but it’s in the dark. With flashlights. So basically someone is it…well, first, you turn the lights out, and everyone has flashlights. And someone is it, and everyone else hides. And you can switch around hiding locations, as long as whoever’s it doesn’t catch you. So the person who is it has their flashlight on, and goes around looking for everyone else. And if they find you, you have to run. If they can tag you, you have to freeze, but if someone else who hasn’t been frozen yet comes and tags you, you’re allowed to unfreeze. And basically the game ends when whoever is it manages to freeze everyone else.”
A: Why does it have to be in the dark? What do you think that means?
OF: Nothing, I don’t think. It was more exciting. It’s, like, a thrill to be running around in the dark, which is stupid, I guess, because it was so much easier to trip over stuff. But we didn’t care.
I think it’s funny that kids “invent” games, but these games are almost always variants of other games they already know. It relates back to the idea that every text is a variation of another text that we discussed in class; because almost everything has already been created, we can only “create” versions of things that already exist. I also think children’s games that kids themselves create, and children’s lore itself, are interesting, because they have only really become as widespread as they are after the first child-labor laws. These laws effectively “invented” childhood, because before they were put in place, children didn’t have the time to sit around creating weird new games, nor could they socialize with the other kids with whom they would create such games.