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Some Simple but Precise Capture Games

I am still developing pictures to go in this this webpage.


The best and simplest of all games are those, which require no specialist equipment at all i.e. no balls, bats or specialist grounds. Thus the informal games like “tag”, “chasings” and “Hide-and-Seek” are all of this form and these games have been played since time memorial. Also the larger “wide-games” I played at in the scouts were also of this form.
            Now all these games involve catching people in some slight manner. And the reason these games cannot be expanded into more serious games is because the “capture” of a person is too indefinite. Also fairness of these games is usually limited because it is unclear which people should be cooperating with other people in this capturing process.
            So my aim in this webpage is to introduce some very simple equipment and a few rules. Then these simple games can become visibly fair to all people and so these various games can be played with much greater enjoyment.


The only way a game can be truly fair to all players is for the game to have two clear opposing teams. This is the universal experience throughout the world. The reason is very simple. If there are more than two teams (or more than 2 individuals without team affiliations), then some of the teams will gang-up to defeat another team. So the game becomes unfair. (For example this situation can happen in Monopoly when people play the game seriously. I know this horrible circumstance from personal experience.) So there must always be two clear definite teams.
            If this game is to be played in a park, and there is the possibility of hiding, then each team member must be easy to distinguish. And each team must be equally visible. The easiest method of doing this is for each team member to wear a T-shirt with a distinct colour. And I think the best two colours are “red” and “yellow”. These two colours are very clear and distinct and equally visible against the background colours of a park. (“Blue” for example would not be as visible as these two colours.) So, if we do this, then the two teams would naturally be called the Reds and the Yellows. Then these games, might be called “Reds-and-Yellows” games instead of “Capture” games.
            If this game is to be fair then the two teams must be equal. So the two teams should be equal in numbers, have an equal proportion of males and females, roughly have the same total weight and have a similar age distribution. Of course it is difficult to be completely fair in all these matters. It might be best if a computer program does this awkward calculation. It least the result would not be biased.
            This basically means that, to play this game, the first piece of equipment, which organisers need to have, is a complete sets of red and yellow T-shirts (which the chosen team members will wear).


This picture shows our T-shirts - female on the left;

male on the right.


Now we must come to the rather difficult problem. This is: how can one person (possibly supported by other people) clearly demonstrate they have captured another person - without there being any possibility that anyone will get hurt in the process.
            This is my solution to this problem. All people will have an identity card clearly proclaiming their name. This card will have Velcro on the back (of the hooked kind). All T-shirts will have Velcro patches (of the fluffy kind) on the spot corresponding to the middle of the wear’s chest. At the start of the game all people will attach their identity cards to the front of their T-shirts. Then in any capture tussle, the first person, who takes a person’s identity card and raises this card above their head, will be proclaimed the captor of the person who’s identity card they hold.
            Because males and females have slightly different anatomies, the precise position of the identity card ought to change. I think the female cards should be placed 5 cm beneath the neck line and the male cards be 20 cm beneath the neck line. This also means that cards will also be roughly at the same level.
            This system can be adapted to slightly handicap the greater strength males normally have. The Velcro on the male’s T-shirts can be smaller than the identity cards. This means these cards will be easier to pull-off because there will be less Velcro and they can be grabbed on the edge. But the Velcro on female T-shirts can be larger than the Velcro on their identity cards. So these identity cards will be hard to detach because it will be hard to get a grip on them.
            There must be a clear rule that no player can touch their own identity card in any way at all (to guard their badge). (Strictly an independent person should attach their badge initially.)



This picture shows what our teams might look like.


So the only equipment needed to play this game are these sets of T-shirts with the appropriate Velcro and identity cards. People cannot own their T-shirts and cards because the temptation to adjust their own equipment would be too great. So the organising body must purchase this equipment. I have put the fluffy Velcro on the T-shirt so that the T-shirts can be washed easily. Compared with the amount of equipment most other sports need, this amount of equipment is trivial.


In all normal games, the interaction of the various team members would provide the subtleness of the game. So a weak player might appear and flee when a stronger player appears. The stronger player might give chase. But the weaker player might have hidden team-mates waiting. So then superior numbers could capture the stronger player.
            But, before we precede any further, let us consider contest where just two contestants are contained within a ring. So this is the same situation, which occurs in boxing, wrestling, fencing and judo. Now, if you now make a comparison of the situation of grabbing an identity card from a person’s chest to any other form of bout, then this type of contest will have far less chance of causing any harm. Also this contest will be by far the most definitive in giving any onlooker a clear understanding of who is the correct victor. So this system is pretty good. If you don’t think so, please tell me what system you wish to propose yourself.
            Before I leave this two person case, let us consider what might happen if just two people played this game in a park. Suppose one person is bigger - and but the other person is fitter. So who might win this game?
            To begin with the fitter guy will clearly run away. The bigger guy will follow hoping to corner him. But most parks have a pond somewhere. The fit guy will run to the far side of the pond. The big guy will follow. So in this circumstance no one will win. So then the game could become a contest of strategies. The fit guy could feign weakness and let the big guy get closer to him. In this way he might entice the big guy to tire himself out. Then the fit guy could suddenly turn quickly (away from the pond) and push the big guy into the pond. Then the fit guy could jump on top of the big guy in the pond and remove his identity card in the confusion.
            So the game could have many interesting outcomes. Even this situation could be a good game in testing a person’s skills in taking advantage of the environments features.


I think it is best now to consider the possible games under the following three headings. But before any game can start the team must be chosen in some manner that ensures that they equally matched (as I discussed at the beginning). Then before a game can start the teams must get to know each other and form their various strategies (e.g. possibly elect a leader). This situation must occur in all games.




1)         Field Capture Games


If a game is played on a field, then there can be many onlookers and these various onlookers can check that no player is cheating (or that any player is likely to get hurt). So, if the players don’t know each other to begin with, then this kind of game would be a safer way of starting into this very new experience.
            It would be natural for both teams to enter the field from opposite ends. The two teams would fan out till the outer players could be fairly close to their opponents. From here various sallies would occur to try and capture individual players. Captured players must leave the field and so gradually one team would become stronger. So the weaker team would eventually surrender and the game would be over. (Unless there was plenty of time and the players vote for a rematch.)
            This compact form of the game could easily give rise to a state of “mayhem”. When several players attack one player, then players from the other team might attack them. Then people from the first team would attack them. Soon everyone might be involved in the capture process. In the resulting confusion, it would be hard to know which person captured which person first. If this situation is to be avoided, then, after one person is captured, the umpire should blow a whistle and everyone would return to their own region. Then the game would restart. (But “mayhem” could be fun. And, if onlookers take many photographs, then the correct result could be found out.)


There could a variant of this form of game, which could be more fun. This variant would be a bit like chess. Beforehand each team would elect a King and a Queen. Each person would be given symbolic crowns (suitable head bands). The King would be like the King in chess. So, if the King is captured, then his side loses.
            The situation of the Queen would be more fun. The Queen would not wear an identity card so she cannot be captured. And nor can the Queen capture opposing players. So she can wander through the opposing side with relative impunity. But what the Queen can do is to push people. So what she can do is to suddenly run forward and push a forward opponent into her own team (to be captured). So she would be an important player. But the opposing team can also push the Queen – to stop her doing too much damage. So I think this form could be a fun variant of the field game called “with Kings and Queens”.


There could be many variants of this kind of game.



2)         Full Park Capture Games


If the whole of the park is used in the game then there is far great scope for using the various features of the park for hiding and ambushing. So this game would become much more satisfying.
            The game of course would be played in the same manner. But, because the area is so much greater, we now need to specify a few extra features.
a)         Clearly the boundaries of where people can go must be clearly specified.
b)         Each team should now have a clear base, which would be the point where the teams started from. These bases must be well known, because the various captives must return to their captor’s bases. When captives are doing this, then they should wear a white head-band so that all players know that these people are no longer active.
c)         These white head-bands could also be used, if a player has a problem, or if they wish to consult an umpire about some player’s behaviour. As we all know very well, these sorts of problem will always occur in all games.
d)         Because each team now has a specific base, then the capture of the opposing base could be the basis a victorious team. So, if one team can successfully prevent any member of the opposing team from entering or leaving their base for perhaps 10 minutes, then this team could be called the victors.
            So these extra rules could be the basis of this kind of game.


This type of game be could extended to create very large games indeed. So these rules could apply to the wide-games, I used to play in the scouts in wildlife parks, covering several square kilometres. This type of game could even be played between different states with thousands of players camping overnight for many days. This type of game could even be used as a military preliminary exercise.
            So this form of game could be very useful in many different ways. This game could be the best way of how measuring how fit and well-organised two different teams can become.



3)         Alternating Capture Games


The trouble with the games I have described so far is that they could be too intensive. All people would deeply involved in the game the whole of the time. So now I want to introduce a more relaxed game. This game would be more like “Hide-and-Seek”.
            So in this game, the two teams would alternate between being in the state of the Hunter/Seeker and in the state of the Hider/Fleer. These two states are obtained because Hunter/Seeker team members cannot be stripped of their badges - whereas the Hider/Fleer team can i.e. be caught. Normally one team would be the hunters for the first half and then the other team would be the hunters for the second half. The situation would now be very similar to what happens in hide and seek. Also, as in hide-and-seek, there are several factors, which could be changed to give a better balance between the difficulties of the two opposing teams.


In this game there would be a general central home base, where the whole game starts and finishes for both teams. The hider-team could be given 5 minutes for all the individuals to leave the base and find their best hiding spots. Then the hunter-team would leave to search. But this time the hunter-team would mostly hunt in couples so that, if they find a hiding player, then the couple have a better chance of catching the fleeing person. If the fleeing person was an agile runner, then they could still escape. The fleeing person could then seek another hiding spot. Otherwise the fleeing person has the option of running the gaunt of hunters to get back to the safety of the central base. If the fleer is caught, then the catcher takes their badge and the caught person puts on a white headband and makes their way back to the central base.
            The game is then repeated with the team roles reversed. The team, which catches the most captives, then wins the contest. But this game is much more individualistic in its nature. The various individuals would now be much more proud their own personal captures or their miraculous escapes - rather than whether their team actually won or lost.
            A well organised game of hide-and-seek can be a great game. Such a game will have its own extreme individual highlights. But, for most of the time, each player would be very relaxed indeed – they will be just wondering when their big time of action will occur.

This is the form of capture game I will use for my 2-week holiday capture game .


So there are many types of capture game to chose from. All of the various games have their different advantages and disadvantages.
But all these simple capture games do not require their players to become highly skilled in certain specialled actions. These games just require general fitness and the ability to develop co-operative skills with their fellow players. These are the most important qualities we all need to develop in all fields of life.



Unfortunately most city parks do not support a good environment for such capture games. And there is a very good reason for this situation. Parks with many hiding spots cannot be very safe. Bad people can use these spots and then prey on innocent people. So, to prevent this happening, most parks just contain extensive mown grassy areas and large clumps of high trees with no undergrowth. So these parks are not suitable for hide and seek games. This situation poses a significant problem for our more interesting games.
            This situation results from what I consider a fundamental false expectation of life, which has grown up in the western world (associated with the growth of the motor-car). This expectation is that all people should be able to travel around a country almost indefinitely with almost no requirement that they should specify who they precisely are. Under these circumstances the authorities are completely correct in making sure that there are no hiding places in parks. (Of course in all my “Green Communities”, all people always have to identify who they precisely are on many occasions. So my parks are completely safe and so there will lots of small bushes, shrubs and long grass to hide in.)


I think the solution to this problem in the current world has to be that some parks are made completely safe. So no one can enter these parks unless they identify themselves completely. Also all visitors would be encouraged to take small cameras with them, and then to use these cameras a lot (modern cameras are incredibly cheap, small and take a huge umber of photo very easily). Then, if there is any problem, there will be plenty of evidence about what actually happened. Then in these parks, wildlife can grow everywhere in a natural way with plenty of bushes, long grass etc. for people to hide in. If people play these capture games in these parks, then the players should also encourage their friends to come and watch, if they like. These visitors could enjoy watching the game and their presence will make the games much safer and it will be harder to cheat.

            I am only suggesting this identification for a few parks. If people enjoy the lawlessness of countries where people don’t identify themselves, then this is their choice. We only need a few safe parks to play these fun, traditional, unsophisticated games.



You might now also like to look back at:

either my "Home Page" (which introduces this whole website and lists all my webpages),

or Green Living (which introduces this major set of webpages).


My next normal webpage is A Holiday Game in a Wildlife Park.


Updated on 15/11/2016.