Fun and Games from Everywhere
By Joshua Savitzky
On Apr. 6 from noon to 8 p.m, the DANK Haus German American Cultural Center hosted an international game night where visitors could play several games from Germany, Haiti, Sweden, Japan, Korea, and Native American tribes. The games, set up along various tables, sometimes had instructions nearby to help explain the rules to inexperienced players while some of the more complicated games and activities had people who played the game as children happily explain the rules.
On the table with the Japanese games there were square sheets of green paper for making origami frogs. Several elderly women showed interested and inexperienced people how to fold. Along with that was an Othello board to play the Game of Go, a game where black and white pieces are placed on a board to close off spaces until neither player can make a legal move or until one concedes, or another game similar to Tic-Tac-Toe, but for 5 in a row and the players could place their pieces anywhere on the board, which makes for a much more complex game. Finally, there were two sets of a game called Daruma Otoshi, a game where colored wood blocks are stacked, with the top block having the face of the Daruma character, and the player must hit the blocks with a small mallet to knock off the lower blocks without the whole stack falling over.
Some of the games were in German with German instructions and no one was around to explain the rules. One of these games, titled “Ohne Furcht und Adel,” translated as “Citadels” in French and English. Other games were much more accessible, even with a language barrier, such as one Korean game called “Yut Nori,” a game similar to Sorry, where the goal is to bring four pieces around a board and back to home. Instead of moving the pieces a number of spaces using dice, four sticks called yut-sticks are cast into the air. The game is played with two teams who take turns casting the yut-sticks and moving based off the number that land faced up, one to five spaces at a time. Upon casting, the team discusses the strategy of how they want the pieces, known as mal, to be moved. Mal can be stacked onto each other, or another team can remove mal of the opposing team from the board. The game was attended by two Korean men who were very experienced with the game.
Along with the more cultural games that are commonly played in the United States, such as Charades and Uno, there was a station for balloon animals. By far the oldest American games were explained to us by a Native tribesman who explained several games played by Native American Tribes. Among them were Pick-Up Sticks, a game similar to Tug-of-War where players grab a rope with one hand and use that hand to grab an object centered between them while preventing other players from grabbing it. Another game the tribesman could only describe to us, where two teams tried to get their team’s ball to touch the opposing team’s goal post in fields that could stretch miles long depending on how much land was available.
International Game Night was a fun afternoon and evening where everyone gathered to learn new games, teach old ones, and have fun with family and friends. The DANK Haus had a buffet on site, but there are many restaurants nearby to make it a day-long activity. Meeting new people is easy. People of all ages attend the event and it is populated day-round. It is held annually in late March or early April, so there is definitely another chance to experience this next year.