9 Popular Games from the 90s (and Why They’re Good for You)

Today, almost all the games children want and patronize are digital. Children spend a lot of time with their digital devices (e.g. tablets, smartphones, and personal computers), play some digital games, and find little time doing the things we, the older people, used to love when we were kids – actual creative play — patintero, hide and seek, takraw, etc.

Unfortunately, this trend poses serious risks or disservice to children.

According to studies, creative play plays a very significant role in a child’s development. Inversely, most digital games and few physical toys proves detrimental to a child’s cognitive development.

Importance of Creative Play

What are plays we consider creative play? Are digital games non-creative forms of play?

When children engage in creative play, they make up the rules rather than adults. Not only are they are free to use their imaginations, create stories, act out scenes or invent a new game, but this unstructured, self-directed play encourages mental development and allows a child to express his emotions. According to Today’s Parent, children need at least 45 minutes of creative play every day, so create an environment that encourages them to use their imaginations.

Creative play involves providing open-ended toys or supplies, meaning they don’t need instructions or even adult demonstration, according to Today’s Parent. Building blocks are classic examples of open-ended toys, and they give children the opportunity to use their imagination to build whatever they want. Offer crayons, markers, paper and other art supplies; dress-up clothes, props and mirrors for dramatic play; hand-held musical instruments such as shakers, tambourines or drums; and imagination toys, such as dolls, stuffed animals or molding clay. Supervise as needed, but keep interventions to a minimum so kids feel free to express themselves.

Benefits of Creative Play

According to PBS.org, creative play is important because it enhances abilities, including problem-solving, critical and abstract thinking, and verbal and social skills. For example, through playing with blocks, children are challenged to handle issues such as balance and shape, so they have to use thinking and problem-solving skills to figure out how to build a tower, for instance, without it falling over. Creating a work of visual art or a musical composition could help relieve stress by establishing an emotional outlet. Creative play with other children encourages the development of social skills by urging children to take their peers’ ideas and feelings into account.

Creative play boosts creativity. And creativity is vital for a child’s cognitive development. There are four components of creativity as described by Psychologist Ellis P. Torrance: fluency, flexibility, originality, and elaboration.

  1. Fluency is the ability to produce a number of different ideas. To promote fluency provide children with plenty of opportunities that stimulate the thought process. Ask open ended questions and questions that ask the child’s opinion. Encourage the child to explore and experiment and this will enhance cognitive growth.
  2. Flexibility is the ability to approach different situations and develop solutions from a number of different perspectives. Foster flexibility by allowing plenty of opportunities to explore and experiment. Allowing children to experiment and make mistakes unleashes their creative thinking and a sense of wonder. They feel free to imagine, invent, create, and try out new ways to do things. Asking questions during an activity or when a problem arises such as “how is another way we could do this or solve it?” encourages children to think outside of the box.
  3. Originality is the ability to have a new or novel idea. To promote originality, provide a variety of supplies and experiences in which children can use their imagination and create. By painting or constructing something out of playdough they are creating something out of nothing.
  4. Elaboration is the ability to extend ideas. Give children new ways of doing old ideas and activities. For instance, providing pipe cleaner and other items to stick into play dough would allow children to elaborate in their play.

The Cool, Creative, and Exciting Games of the 90s

The traditional Filipino games are truly unique, awesome, and lucrative for the Filipino kids, especially in the olden days. These traditional Filipino games have a different appeal to creative imagination. They were fun. They were daunting. But nonetheless, fun.

Unfortunately, the games kids from my generation used to play, seems to be dying out today. The digital age has reshaped even play.

1. Patintero

Patintero is a popular game among the active young people. This game is said to be most popular in the province of Bulacan in the Philippines.

The game is played by two teams with at least 3 individuals (although it is seldom played with just that number of members per team). Although for most occasions, this is played by teams with at least 10 members. The game will take place in a rectangular matrix with at least two quadrants (or as many as 6 quadrants depending on the number of members in the team).

For a team to win, a member of any team must successfully cross-over the quadrants, and return to where he or she entered without getting caught or touched by the members of the opposing team who are waiting at and traversing the quadrant’s lines.

The game is usually commenced with a coin toss to determine which team attempts a cross-over first.

2. Skipping Rope (Luksong Lubid)

Skipping rope is a rather simple yet fun game. In order to have fun playing this game, all you need is a rope, and some playmates (at least 3 players fine).

In Skipping Rope, a player hurdles the rotating rope held by the two other players on both ends/ The rotation gets faster and faster over time. A player has to make sure the rope does not touch them. If that happens, she or he loses their turn.

3. Hide and Seek (Taguan)

Hide and Seek is a favorite game among my peers back in my younger younger years. You know how Hide and Seek is done. Whoever’s the stake (taya) has got to close their eyes, count to 30 or as agreed upon, and the other players have to find a safe hiding place before the count ends. That’s it. The person at stake has to find them all without losing guard if his or her base. Any person other than the person at stake (nakataya) who reaches the base without being seen by the person at stake must touch the base and say “save”. It means he or she is saved from being put at stake. The game will end one everyone’s been found.

4. Sepak Takraw (Sipa)

Sepak Takraw is a popular game. It is also a game played in the Olympics. And, it is popular in the countryside, almost as popular as boxing. It is called kick volleyball in English.

Sepak Takraw differs from the similar sport of volleyball in its use of a rattan ball and only allowing players to use their feet, knee, chest and head to touch the ball. It is a popular sport in Southeast Asia.

5. Playhouse (Bahay-bahayan)

Playhouse is a popular game around the world. This is the ultimate creative play not bound by rigid rules, but by mere conventions of what it feels, and looks like to be a family. Psychologists might even argue that this kind of creative play is vital for child development as this game allows them to identify schema’s aligned to theirs. Why is that so?

In this game, children assume various roles (e.g. father, mother, brother, sister, friends, etc.). Assuming these roles entail mimicking these roles’ characteristics (behaviour patterns and attitude deemed appropriate for each particular role). This is a great learning for a child assuming he or she has a good grasp of these roles.

6. Rock-Paper-Scissors (Jack-en-Poy)

We call this Rock-Paper-Scissors in English. This is a zero-sum hand game usually played between two people, in which each player simultaneously forms one of three shapes with an outstretched hand. These shapes are “rock” (a simple fist), “paper” (a flat hand), and “scissors” (a fist with the index and middle fingers together forming a V).

The game has only three possible outcomes other than a tie: a player who decides to play rock will beat another player who has chosen scissors (“rock crushes scissors”) but will lose to one who has played paper (“paper covers rock”); a play of paper will lose to a play of scissors (“scissors cut paper”). If both players throw the same shape, the game is tied and is usually immediately replayed to break the tie. Other names for the game in the English-speaking world include roshambo and other orderings of the three items, sometimes with “rock” being called “stone”.

The game is often used as a choosing method in a way similar to coin flipping, drawing straws, or throwing dice. Unlike truly random selection methods, however, rock-paper-scissors can be played with a degree of skill by recognizing and exploiting non-random behavior in opponents.

7. Jumping Cow (Luksong Baka)

This is another personal favorite of mine. I used to play this with my peers from grade school during recess.

This is pretty simple. The person at stake simply has to duck with his or her hands on their knees. The other players will hurdle over him. The players may use their hands for support as they jump over the ducking person. Players must prevent their legs from touching any body part of the person at stake. Well, if a player fails to do that, he or becomes the person at stake.

8. Syato!

To play this game, you’ll need lots of open space (preferably land so you can dig an elongated shallow hole that you need in order for your team to score the ‘shatong points’) and two pieces of stick about an inch in diameter one long, about a foot and the other short, about half a feet.

Each team member takes turn in playing the game. The first one hurls the short stick off the furrow using the longer stick. Now he/she must be careful that the opposing team does not catch the short stick. If the other team catches is, the current team loses their turn and the opposing team takes their turn to hurl/launch the short stick.

Now if “shorty” (the shorter stick) gets hurled with none of the opposing team catching it, all the members of the hurling team will go to the drop site (the exact point where shorty fell).

From here, except for the person who hurled shorty, (so if it’s a two-man team, only one will do this) will have to run up to the furrow shouting “shatoooooooooooooooo!” The opponents will be with you all the way to make sure you did not lose your breath or stop saying the “magic word”. If you failed to reach the furrow and ran out of breath and stopped, the opposing team takes their turn to hurl, and no points are made.

If you are successful, then you partner (the one who hurled shorty) gets to count the distance from the drop point up to the furrow using the longer stick (known here are “LS”).

If the hurler hits shorty with LS as he launches shorty off to open space, and the “shato” runners don’t lose their breaths; then the count is using LS X 2. If the hurler launches shorty and hits is twice before it goes off to its drop point, then instead of LS, shorty is used to count the distance from the drop point to the furrow (making the score much higher).

If the hurler hits shorty three times before it drops, then not only is shorty used to measure the distance from drop point to furrow, but also the count is increased to threes!

Teams note their scores and the team with the highest points wins the game.

9. Palo Sebo (Greasy Pole)

Palo-sebo is a traditional Filipino game usually played during town ‘fiestas’. Long and straight bamboo poles are polished and greased, after which a small bag containing the prize is tied to the top. The bag usually contains money, sweets, or toys. Sometimes a small flag is used instead of the actual prize, which is given to the winner afterwards.

Contestants try to climb the pole in turns to secure the prize, and anyone who fails to reach the top is disqualified. The winner is the one who succeeds in reaching and untying the prize or retrieving the flag.

So, are you ready to play some games? Tara!

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