Monday, March 13, 2006


Had a good time with my kids this weekend. Or, should I say, they had a good time with me? Partly it was because Jesse's friend Monty came over Saturday night for a sleepover. Kids like being in a pack, even three is better than two. At one point we went over to the local park for an hour or so. It was early evening; tennis on the courts, skate-boarders and bike riders on the skate-board rink, smaller kids on the equipment and the littlies in the fenced off playground; a soccer game featuring, I noticed, two of the guys from the local liquor shop. At one point Liamh, who's obsessed with them, found a stash of sticks behind a tree on the far edge of the park and enlisted the other two in a game. I watched it from a bench on the other side, far too far away to hear anything or see detail. They were big, robust looking sticks, thick and long; but the boys seemed to be using them not as weapons but as ... I don't know? Wands? Their movements had an hieratic quality, they held them gesturally and moved them slowly through the air. It looked like a dance and went on for quite a while, quarter of an hour maybe. Then, all of a sudden, they laid them down (behind another tree, for later perhaps) and came tearing back across the park towards me. As we were walking home I asked what they'd been doing. Orrh, said Jesse, We were playing Runescape. He didn't expatiate and I didn't ask. Runescape's huge among the kids and it seems like a different sort of game from the usual shoot 'em up, bang 'em down. My boys don't play it here much because it requires a PC for its full range to be available and I'm on a Mac; when they do I'm impressed by the contemplative air that comes over the flat. One day this weekend I watched them build a canoe and sail it down a river. Another time, I recall Jesse telling me he knew how to fletch arrows. He described the process in great detail and then allowed that, yes, they were virtual arrows. This is a game where groups form and play against/with each other; some of these groups are very large and, it goes without saying, they are multinational. I'm intrigued ... but not as intrigued as I was by the stick game I saw across the park the other evening.