August 23, 2007


I found this entry on Flickr, in the group:

Sungka is a traditional Filipino Game played by two participants. The objective of the game is to amass stones or cowrie shells in the player’s home base by continuously distributing the shells around smaller holes until the player runs out of shells to distribute. The person who collects the most shells in his or her base wins.
The container shown here is carved from molave wood.


August 23, 2007

WARI is one of many similar board games played in various parts of the world. Generically known as mancala games, they have been played for thousands of years in Egypt, where “boards” have been found carved into the stone of the pyramid of Cheops and the temples at Luxor and Karnak.


This cast bronze statuette is the work of the Ashanti tribe of Ghana, where oware is the national game ( It is played throughout West Africa and the Caribbean. Among its many names are Ayo (Yoruba), Awalé (Côte d’Ivoire), Wari (Mali), Ouri, Ouril or Uril (Cape Verde), Warri (Caribbean), Adji (Ewe), and Awélé (Ga). A common name in English is Awari but one of the earliest Western scholars to study the game, R.S. Rattray, used the name Wari.


These Kenyan warriors have parked their spears to the side while playing wari. This photo comes from a book “Games of the World”, published by Swiss Committee for UNHCF in 1982. Reflecting traditional African values, players of Oware encourage participation by onlookers, making it one of the most social two-player games, providing a focus for entertainment and meeting others. The game, or variations of it, also had an important role in teaching arithmetic to African children.

African slaves brought mancala games to Surinam and the West Indies, where they survived unchanged. While in Africa, it is predominantly played my men, in Indonesia, the women dancers also play it to make their fingers supple for the intricate and elegant hand movements their dancing requires.

This board comes from Indonesia (I bought it from a Community Aid Abroad catalogue several years ago, and have had many hours of fun from it).


My game came with a batik bag of small cowrie shells (a variation for tourists?), but traditionally, dried seeds (in the Caribbean, seeds are typically smooth and shiny nickernuts), peas, beans, beads, ball bearings, stones and pebbles are used (48 in number).

The wari board has six cups or compartments, called “houses”, on each player’s side, and a reservoir at the end (or anywhere for that matter) to hold captured pieces. In rural areas, the ground may also be used as a board; players simply scoop two rows of pits out of the earth. This photo was taken by my friend Maggie, of her neighbour Ivoni, in Dili, East Timor, in 2006.


for more photos of this game see:

and here are a version of the rules:

More skipping

August 22, 2007


Students attending the adult English classes at Coffs Harbour Community College went to the Dorrigo National Park on the mid north coast of NSW in Australia, for the end-of-year party in December, 2006. We had many activities and games which people from many different countries and cultures could enjoy. Games are a great way to cross language barriers and bring people together.




Skipping in Spain

August 21, 2007




These schoolchildren were skipping beside the ramparts of the Alhambra in Spain. I took these pictures on a visit to that wonderful moorish palace in 2004.

Skipping Rope

July 4, 2007

well used toy

Originally uploaded by

Skipping is also called “jump rope”. It can be done individually or with a group. Children often chant traditional rhymes to the beat of the rope on the ground.
This skipping rope has nice wooden handles, but handles are not necessary. Even “rope” is not necessary!! A nineteenth-century book of English games describes the use of a hop stem (the stem of the hop plant – stripped of its leaves) as being preferable to a rope. Would that be called a “hopping rope” then!!??

Quickgammon Backgammon

July 2, 2007

Quickgammon Backgammon

Originally uploaded by digivangelist

This game has been around for centuries in India, Persia and the Near East. In the first centrury it was given the name “tabula” (a table or “tables”). For a long time, it was esteemed as highly as chess. The crusader knights carried it on their campaigns.
In the middle ages in England it acquired its present name – gammen being “game” in Middle English, and “back” because in certain circumstances, the pieces are obliged to go back and reenter the board.


June 29, 2007


In Maubisse, in the central highlands of East Timor, these girls were playing jacks with rocks on the roof of an old broken-down bus.


June 29, 2007



Hop Scotch

A truly timeless and universal game, which requires only a flat piece of ground and some stones. These kids are on Artauro Island, off the coast from Dili, in East Timor.

Playing on a palm leaf

June 29, 2007

Playing on a palm leaf

I watched these boys in Dili, East Timor, for over an hour – just pulling each other around on this palm leaf.

Gamer Revolution

June 28, 2007

This review comes from the internet, published just prior to the program’s airing: (Note – I, peronally, am NOT into computer gaming,  just fascinated and worried about its sudden ascendancy)

Gamer Revolution: Part One
ABC TV 9:40 Thursday, 28th Jun 2007 MA 

Computer games are a global phenomenon and a $US25 billion a year industry. Over 800 million people worldwide are regular players. Gamer Revolution looks past the hype, paranoia and hoopla to explore the real stories behind the computer game revolution.

Gamer Revolution explores how computer games are not only changing the world, but giving rise to a new version of life itself. The line between the real world and the virtual world is disappearing. Millions of people feel that they have a life inside these games and that it’s better than their real life.

In part one, Gamer Revolution takes viewers around the world from Asia to the heart of the Middle East in search of the most mind-bending stories from the cutting edge of the game revolution. It also features interviews with gamers and game developers including Will Wright, creator of the wildly popular life simulation game, The Sims.

Just how pervasive has gaming become? The US army uses video games to train new recruits and to simulate real-life battle situations in preparation for combat. In Korea, computer nerds are the sex symbols of the 21st century. In Syria, a developer has designed an extremely popular shooter game in which the player gets to kill Israeli soldiers.

Every year, the biggest companies in the industry try to out-do each other in an effort to create buzz for their games. It’s a high-stakes business. The development cost of a new game has almost tripled in a decade. Eighty percent of games fail in the first year, but for those who succeed, the payoff is huge.