How Do Games Shape Our Stories?

In our third week exploring games, my students and the Just Write virtual writing group drew inspiration from Ken Burns’ thoughts on baseball. As we learned in our first week in What Are Games? and last week in Why Do We Play?, games and play teach us a lot about ourselves, our world, and the others that inhabit that world. The goal of these writing invitations is to inspire us to think and write about what games have taught us about life, learning, and humanity drawing from our lived experiences with play and games.

Burns has spent his entire career exploring the American Story and he argues that the seemingly simple game of baseball continues to be a window through which it is possible to better understand prominent themes in American history, including globalization, a communications revolution, cycles of boom and bust, and the healing of a frightened country in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11th. He notes: “Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball.”

Burns explains that baseball is a touchstone for Americans: “Nothing in our daily life offers more of the comfort of continuity, the generational connection of belonging to a vast and complicated American family, the powerful sense of home, the freedom from time’s constraints, and the great gift of accumulated memory than does our National Pastime.”

Our invitation for this week included the poem Baseball by Gail Mazur because this poem is vivid and rich with details and descriptions, vignettes really, of baseball and touches on the greater themes of humanity that are encapsulated in this one game.

I concluded the invitation with these questions:

  • What life lesson have you learned from a game?
  • Tell a story about one specific game in as much detail as possible.
  • Explain why one specific game is important to you.
  • What game do you think is important to learn to understand you, America, or humanity?

I wrote about Kick the Can and baseball and euchre during my writing sessions. What will you write about?