(See also this)
Here we are, playing the very same game, 40 years later, at the DiGRA 2011 conference in 2011. Having taught that game for all those years, I’ve learned new ways of making it even more fun (as needed), turning the game into something of an event and ritual.
First, there’s getting everyone in a circle. It’s easy enough to do when everyone is standing, facing the center. A bit more of a challenge when you want them to be standing front-to-back. So, we start in a circle facing each other, maybe holding hands; then we let go of each other and all hold one arm out (right or left, depending on which way you want people to be facing – it doesn’t matter which, as long as we all wind-up facing the same way), and all we have to do to turn in the direction our arm is pointing. (Look, when you’re playing this with hundreds of people, these simplifications come in very, shall we say, “handy”.).
Next is to get everyone holding the waist of the person in front of them. This is a ticklish thing to ask people to do – a little personal, and, well odd. So that becomes another gamelet, which I’ve named “The Zen Hip Swing.” I ask everyone to wiggle the hips of the person in front of them while letting your own hips get wiggled by the person behind. This is funny in a weird way – trying to relax enough to be wiggled while at the same time being focused enough to wiggle someone else. Kind of almost a psyho-physio-spiritual exercise.
Further preparations might include rearranging people so those of exceptional width are positioned next to people of exceptional physical endurance, or those who are height-impaired are next to someone whose knees are more accommodating.
The next goal is to get everyone sitting – not on each other’s laps, as the name of the game might very well mislead you to conclude, but on each other’s knees. Telling the community about the mechanics of knee-vs-lap (the knee-sit being columnar and far more likely to support a body of significant girth, whilst the lap not so much) adds a bit of anticipatory glee and focus, whether it is true or not.
Final preparation begins with a “test sit.” Here, the group is directed to initiate a knee-flex – slowly deepening said flex whilst using hands to help guide the person in front knee-ward, until actual, simultaneous knee-buttock contact has been achieved. Yes, I said “buttock.” O, so intimate and slightly wrong. The moment such contact occurs, people should stand and prepare for the “real” sit (even though they’ve probably already experienced a something very similar).
Now that the preparation has concluded, you might suggest that everyone turns around (hahahaha).
We put each other in each other’s hands, and on each other’s laps. We let go enough to let the person behind us take care of us, take responsibility for our safety. While we, at the same time, try to focus all our attention on the person in front of us, whom we are trying, lovingly, to guide to our knees, calmly, to leave themselves in our in our caring hands.
And on to the actual sit. O, the glee. O, the sense of accomplishment and mutuality.
Now, all those accomplished lap-sitters might want try to wave to the people on the other side of the circle (demonstrating their collective appreciation whilst further emphasizing their sense of firm-seatedness by holding on to each other with only one hand). Or maybe applaud each other’ sitting skills (no holding at all). Or, take a brief rest by slowly lying back on to each other’s tummies. (There’s a story you might share, again of slightly mythical origin, about how the Russian troops, while trekking across the snows during the Second World War, would do this to rest and keep each other warm.) And, should everybody still be sitting, you might suggest that they try walking while lying down on each other.
Yes, yes, the idea here is to help everyone off each other’s laps – and on to the ground. Why? Because it’s a great way to end the game, and the day and it makes people laugh.
And now, today only, for your amazed amusement, carrying the spirit of the Lap Game to its logical conclusion: the 4 Girl Chair Trick.