What We Did For Fun Before The Computer


When I grew up, the video game was not invented yet.  The home video game Pong did not come along until I was nearly in my teens. Shashi Tharoor had not invented the internet either.  So, what did we do back then for fun?  Besides dodging dinosaurs we had a lot of fun games that were played outside with other human beings.  For those under thirty years old – outside is the place where that annoying sun glare on your computer screen comes from.  I tried to remember as many games as I could but I know I have forgotten some since it has been a while…

Below is a list of games that I could remember playing and some of them I can remember the game and some I just vaguely remember the overall concept.

Four square – The playing surface is found in the picture above.  The idea was to bounce a small red ball between the squares without hitting the lines and to force your 3 other opponents to make an error.   I played this a lot in 6thgrade during recess.

TV Tag – This was a game of tag but if you could blurt out a name of a TV Program before you were about to be tagged you were off limits.

Crack the whip – This was a playground game or for a large group of people where you would link arms and then attempt to break the chain (or crack the whip) by running quickly in one direction and then stopping.  Whoever lost contact with the chain of people linked was out of the game.

Red rover – I am a little foggy on this one but I believe this game was played with 2 groups of kids facing each other with arms linked from a distance of maybe 30 feet or so and when the other team called your name you ran over to their side and tried to break though.  It went something like: “Red Rover, Red Rover let Jimmy Come over”

Hide and seek – hopefully this needs no explanation

I spy… – you would state that you see something and then other people in the room had to guess what it was.  You had a limited number of guesses before the person would reveal what they “spied”

Pinch, punch, question or command – Each person would take a turn and elect one of the options.  Great for boring rainy days since it was usually very mindless.

Shadow tag – This was a version of regular tag but you tagged the persons shadow for them to be “it”.  Did not work well on cloudy days or on groundhog days when Phil did not see his shadow.

Kick the can – from what I recall this was like hide and seek but you would return “home” and kick the can before the person who was “it” could catch you

Monkey in the middle – This was played usually by 3 people.   2 people keeping a ball away from another person i.e. the monkey in the middle.

King of the mountain – this is a game where a person would perch atop of small hill and fend off people trying to knock him off of the spot.

You can tell these games are a part of the reason that we did not have such a problem with childhood obesity back then.  Most were physically active and were played outside.  That accomplished two things

1)      You burned calories through the physical activity

2)      You were not stuffing your pie hole with chips, cookies and the like while laying on the couch staring at a TV or computer screen (or a smart phone screen)

Have a great week and share some memories of the good old days and maybe we can bring back the neighborhood games that some of us used to play in the dark ages. (Before the personal computer was invented)