Monday, July 17, 2006

A little story time

Inspired by me thinking about that avant gaming, but also tied in with one of my stories.

Back in the hippy days of the early 70s there was the New Games movement where people would organize these events of new games that were meant to convey 3 ideas: Play Hard, Play Fair, Nobody Hurt. The idea was to move away from the culture that builds up around traditional sports and let people play (both competitively and not) without all that baggage. To just play and enjoy it. It's the origin of Ultimate Frisbee, a great game, but admittedly in some circles it has taken on all the similar baggage to traditional sports such that people lose that sense of free play. I think I mentioned this before, but I'll repeat if so--I think traditional sports have the potential for free play too, it's just that it can be more difficult with certain groups because people have preconceived notions about it.

Anyway, one of the central pieces of these New Games events was the Earth ball, a giant cage ball that by itself tends to bring out the child in people. They'd stop at a gas station to fill up the ball and then roll it to the park and collect a couple dozen people on the way, just from curiosity. At the first event, for the final game of the day, the legend goes, the organizers put the ball in the middle of a marked-off field and told the players/participants, "There are two types of people. Those who want the earth to go this way [pointing to the right] and those who want the earth to go that way [left]."

And that was it. No choosing up teams. No elaborate offsides rules. Not even individual roles for different team members. The people jumped in and started pushing. The ball went this way and that, but when the ball would near an end line, people would suddenly switch sides. They were having so much fun, they didn't want the game to end. It didn't matter who would win, only that the game continued.

It's a pretty cool image. Competition that isn't overblown. Fun that doesn't require a lot of rules (or laws). But...some of you will recognize that image from a very different context. I wrote a story called "The Game" that uses the idea...but twisted into a much darker tale where the movement of the ball actually dictates the politics of a strange city.

I had no grand plan for why I'm bringing this up. Just the whole avant gaming thing got me thinking about it. The story, by the way, is in limbo. A mag has had it for several months--about 4, which is beyond their stated response time. I'd love to have them accept it, but I'd rather they just reject it now than string me along for another few months. I think it'd be a great fit for the new GUD magazine. But if I don't hear from...the magazine (I won't mention it's name here), then I'll just submit something else that should fit. I've yet to hear a story of someone querying to get the response, "Oh yeah, we've decided to accept it." It's always, "Oh, we're a bit behind, but since you asked, here's a rejection." So I'll wait a bit to query. But not too much longer.

Oh, and speaking of magazines going beyond their stated response time, I finally got my form rejection from Cicada in the mail over the weekend. I already had planned where I'd send it next, so I just wanted them to get with it and send it back. Though I do feel that if a magazine goes beyond their stated response time, they owe the writer more than just a form rejection, especially if they're a snail mail only mag.

2 comments:

Bibsy said...

Ooo, I get to ruin your "I've yet to hear a story of someone querying to get the response, 'Oh yeah, we've decided to accept it.'" I had that happen with Nanobison. And with Quantum Muse, I was told they were considering the story for the next issue; week later, acceptance.

Daniel Ausema said...

Thanks a lot for bursting my bubble. Now I have to go and completely rethink the way I look at the world. :)