Screen-Play: Games Only Fictional Characters Could Invent

Screen-Play: Games Only Fictional Characters Could Invent

Pendulous grey clouds loom ominously to the west. Today is not an outdoor day. Salvation is in the closet, where colorful boxes of boards, cards, and tokens beckon us into other worlds. Games pass the time, make us laugh, and strengthen bonds among loved ones. The Strong is proud to preserve the history of games…

Screen-Play: Video Game Mania on Television

Screen-Play: Video Game Mania on Television

“Finish him!” “Save the princess!” “Time is running out!” Video game designers excel at creating high-stakes environments. And television has earned some laughs depicting the obsessive players who heed these calls to action. Here are some of the memorable ways television shows have turned video games into life-or-death situations. Seinfeld: “The Frogger” George holds the…

Screen-Play: Walking a Mile in Magic Boots

Screen-Play: Walking a Mile in Magic Boots

In my last post, I examined television’s stereotypical un-cool Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) player who doesn’t conform to mainstream standards of attractiveness or sociability and fits more comfortably within the fantasy world of role-playing games (RPGs). But “dork” is not a four-letter word as far as these characters are concerned. In fact, television programs offer audiences…

Screen-Play: Too Cool for Ghouls? Dungeons & Dragons and Television Misfits

Screen-Play: Too Cool for Ghouls? Dungeons & Dragons and Television Misfits

Why does television portray Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) as un-cool by putting it in the hands of nerds? Now celebrating its 40th anniversary, the iconic game grew out of the war-themed, strategy-heavy board games introduced in the 1950s by Avalon Hill, as well as from the miniature war games hobbyists enacted with figurines and battlefields…

Screen-Play: NBC’s Community and the National Toy Hall of Fame

Screen-Play: NBC’s Community and the National Toy Hall of Fame

Community is one of the most playful shows on television. The comedy about a study group at dysfunctional Greendale Community College not only features unconventional storytelling methods and an innovative visual style, but its characters actually play—all the time. And either its writers have been looking to The Strong for episode ideas, or the toys…

Creature Comforts: Toys that Soothe

Creature Comforts: Toys that Soothe

The National Toy Hall of Fame hasn’t embraced cuddly toys in a couple of years. Of course I was thrilled to see The Strong honor the rubber duck recently (have you seen my wedding cake?). But it’s the soft, snuggly playthings—the blanket, the teddy bear, Raggedy Ann and Andy—that give me warm fuzzies. These are…

War Gardens: Winning the Food Fight on Home Soil

War Gardens: Winning the Food Fight on Home Soil

Hello, autumn. As pumpkins, parsnips, and apples signal the harvest, I’m gathering artifacts from The Strong’s collections related to a time when farmers were called away to war and civilians rescued the food supply.

The Kids Are Alright

The Kids Are Alright

I met some naughty kids when I worked as a babysitter and camp counselor. But after five years with the National Museum of Play at The Strong, I’ve observed enough children to know the good ones far outnumber the brats and that misbehavior, when it occurs, isn’t limited to one gender. So why do little…

Dirty Dancing in the Borscht Belt

Dirty Dancing in the Borscht Belt

Nobody puts Bubbie in a corner. (Oy.) I think of the movie Dirty Dancing (1987) whenever I see this poolside photo of my grandparents at Grossinger’s resort in the Catskill Mountains in 1964. They look sophisticated, fun loving, and reminiscent of Baby’s parents, Dr. and Mrs. Houseman, New Yorkers who visited the fictional Kellerman’s Mountain…

Young and Green: My Early Environmental Education

Young and Green: My Early Environmental Education

Every day should be Earth Day, of course, but once upon a time, a group of concerned citizens coordinated its very first occasion. Earth Day began on April 22, 1970, with schools across the United States hosting concurrent teach-ins to protest practices polluting natural resources. It’s apropos, then, that my lifelong respect for the environment…