Journal of Ethnology 3/2010 pays attention to the theme A human and a play. The contribution by Petr Janeček (Game Over? Actual Themes of Czech Ethnological Research of a Children's Game) presents the general introduction to problems and the overview of basic essays and issues relating to this phenomenon. Dana Bittnerová focuses on the comparison between the children's games collection by collector Štěpán Bačkova from the mid-19th century, the first published children's games collection in the Czech Lands, and the complex of games played by Prague children between 1992 and 2004 (Trends in Development of Children's Dramatic Games). Jana Poláková's essay is dedicated to minority Roma milieu (Games and Toys of Roma Children), psychologists Miroslav Klusák and Miloš Kučera deal with classicifation as a theoretical issue (Some Remarks on Children's Games). Jana Moravcová adumbrates the phenomenon of RPG (role-playing games) and LARP (live-action role-playing games) among young people of today, using an example of one of such games (The Battle of Five Armies. So-called dřevárny and relative free-time activities of present-day young people in the Czech Republic).
Stopping with Photos with the title The World of Disappearing Games - games with textile fibres presents so-called games with strings (Hana Dvořáková). Transferring Traditions column publishes the contributions Transformations in Games of Strážnice Children in the Past 25 Years (Petr Horehleď) and An Attempt to Return the Regional Folklore to School Praxis (Alena Schauerová). Social Chronicle remembers the anniversary of ethnologist Barbora Čumpelíková (born 1930) and publishes the obituaries for musician and musicologist Vladimír Baier (1932-2010) and singer and choreographer Věra Rozsypalová-Bláhová (1941-2010). Other regular columns include the information on conferences, exhibitions and actual professional activities.
Game over? Actual themes of Czech ethnological research of a children's game
Ethnology plays an essential role in the research of games and play in academical discourse. Ethnology was one of the first scientific fields which began to deal with ludic activities - first, of course, mainly with collection and classification of children's formalized games. Ethnology can contribute to the academical study of games and play in a significant way even today when also other humanities and social sciences, such as psychology and pedagogy, deal with the theme. Ethnological research of games should be aimed especially at collection, description, classification and interpretation of the local cultural variants of gaming behavior. Among the most actual themes of Czech ethnological research of games are compilation of a catalogue and synthetic interpretation of historical children's games, collection, classification and analysis of contemporary children's games and - last, but not least - the collection, classification and analysis of contemporary syncretical games including the research of their relation to the entertainment and gaming industry and the popular and mass culture.
Trends in Development of Children's Dramatic Games
The essay dedicated to children's dramatic games queries the similarity between the content of dramatic intrigue and its presentation in the past and in the present. Considering the trends in repertoire development, the essay draws upon Štěpán Bačkora's collections to describe the status in the mid-19th century; to analyze the contemporary children's games the essay takes advantage of the research among pupils in the elementary schools in Prague. Based on comparison of both game levels as regards content (1. thematic field within which the player accepts his/her new gaming identity; 2. structural motifs taking share in the construction of a dramatic intrigue story), the essay comes to several findings: as to the thematic point of view, the games referring to agricultural culture and the Christian faith have disappeared; the games concerning the choice of partner are passing through transformation; on the contrary, the theme of social bullying has been strengthened. The aforementioned trends are determined by economic development, transformation of social relations within local societies, and, of course, by mass media. As to the structural motifs, they tend to reductions both in their quantity used for construction of a concrete dramatic intrigue, and in their form. In-line-putting of structural motifs as well as their form influence the contemporary dramatic games. Games with simple and anticipatable construction as well as easy-to-remember verbal and motion parts manageable for a great number of players “playing not well together” have gone through. Such trends are determined by limitation of opportunities suitable to realize a game, by instability of players' groups, their age homogeneity and related absence of relevant “experts”, especially teenagers.
Games and Toys of Roma Children
The contribution deals with the research of children's folklore among Romani people. The author proceeds from her own experience, terrain research, written retrospective sources and literature. She was collecting the source materials for the study between 2005 and 2010, in different types of residential areas. Each of them presents specific features in gaming expressions, in knowledge and variability of games as well as in relationship to toys. Children in Roma settlements use toys collectively. Their games have simple rules, they do not last very long and depend on the actual situation, weather, and the possibility to use the surrounding space and the material offered. The nature in their closest neighborhood provides them with wide variability and possibilities. In Roma settlements, one can note modern varieties of traditional children's games even today. Children coming from non-segregated environment of a small town are better interrelated with their toys; they understand “playing” in the sense coming near to its usual interpretation. Children from urban agglomeration are lacking mostly in the space itself. Their nearer contact with every-day reality and majority inhabitants in the neighborhood are reflected in diversity of games (cards, čára), used toys (toys for sandpit) and e.g. even in using the children's counting-our rhymes implied from Czech cultural environment.
Some remarks on children's games
The classification, the essay deals with, is based on the collection of games played by present-day school-age children in the 1st through 9th class (totally 1600 cases in 81 classes from the 1st to 9th year). The procedures inspired by Mr. and Mrs. Opie from Oxford were used to create the collections (the collection was created with the assistance of students working in the field). First, it was the revised system of so-called basic motifs (1. chasing games, 2. catching games, 3. seeking games, 4. hunting games, 5. racing games, 6. dueling games, 7. exerting games, 7*. schooling games, 8. daring games, 8* shocking games, 9. guessing games, 10. acting games, 11. pretending games, 12. shooting games, 13. gender games); the system was used for classification “from bellow” - the idea of so-called basic games (1. to touch, 2. in touching the body, 3. object-throwing - with touching the body, 4. throwing the object - on the track, 5. run- with touching the body, 6. run- on the track, 7. motion structure - joggling and rhythmic exercise 8. object structure, 9. guessing, 10. fictive identities and stories). In both types of classification the authors stumbled on the possibility to consider both mutually combining levels in the future - the level of body subjects activity and the level of roles in a game. The first level includes the poetics of drives (oral, anal, scopic etc. in a variety of their transformations), while the other one covers cultural and moral relations (“Oedipus” relations or those deduced from the Oedipus ones) handling with the drives, such as competition, “bullying”, “democratic” distributions.
The Battle of Five Armies. So-called dřevárna and relative free-time activities of present-day young people in the Czech Republic
The contribution deals with the theme of live-action role-playing games in the Czech Republic at present. The general part includes explanation of used terms LARP and dřevárna, brief history of these games in the world and in the Czech Republic, description of particular types of dřevárna including a brief overview of the most favorite actions of this type; it mentions the players community, its structure and relation to other similar free-time activities. The second part of the contribution is dedicated to one of the biggest fantasy dřevárna-type games in the Czech Republic - The Battle of Five Armies. The author depicts origin of this action in 2000 and its development until today, game rules to make weapons and costumes, rules for system of duels, game objects used, preparations for the game on the part of the players and arrangers and the course of the game itself taking account of the year 2010. The text is completed with the game world map and some photos of costumed players.