ZA is a perfectly good word. You know, like PIZZA. While you probably wouldn’t use (or eat) ZA in a formal social setting, it’s a two-letter word that might help boost your next Scrabble game. Surprised that ZA is a legal word? Don’t be. The entire world of Scrabble terms can be pretty surprising. From the first word (AA) to the last (ZYZZYVAS), the Scrabble dictionary overflows with the uncommon and plain old bizarre words that high-level Scrabble champions apply […]
When I leave The Strong this week after almost seven years, a shiny, new collections manager will take the helm. I feel like the well-worn toy Margery Williams describes in The Velveteen Rabbit who becomes Real when the Boy loves him and when the nursery magic Fairy sets him free. Except for the trials of becoming Real, the Rabbit’s greatest anxiety is being forgotten or replaced. And here I am, undergoing the process willingly when so many toys are not […]
I’ve struggled to catch Saturday Night Live’s 40th season because I’m either out and about or asleep on the couch (usually the latter). But there’s a variety show that’s made for me—particularly due to its time slot and content—and it’s also celebrating an anniversary this year. The Mickey Mouse Club is turning 60.
Walt Disney intended his first foray into television, the Disneyland anthology series, to help fund and market his new theme park. Disneyland’s Davy Crockett miniseries (ABC, 1954–1955) enjoyed […]
Well, paint me blue and call me Grover—Sesame Street premiered 45 years ago today, on November 10, 1969. With more than 4,300 episodes to date, it is one of the longest-running shows in television history. My colleague Scott Eberle has written about the series’ cultural and educational impact. And as The Strong inducts three new playthings into its National Toy Hall of Fame, it’s worth mentioning that the Toy Hall’s honorees abound throughout Sesame Street’s run. (Big Bird alone offers […]
My friends and I embrace game nights: snacks, beverages, stuffed mascots, inspirational posters. Some people don’t, probably because not everyone can handle it when (not if) their true colors emerge in the throes of battle. Similarly, television series use games as plot devices to place characters in opposition to each other, draw out the best (and worst) in their personalities, and reinforce the show’s central themes. Here are some clear winners.
Seinfeld: “The Label Maker”
Quirky Kramer and slimy Newman play Risk, […]
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 and inventors. As I tend to do, I turn to television and find characters having a grand old time creating their own games, too. I […]
“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 high score on the video arcade machine at a pizzeria that’s going out of business. “I’m never gonna have a child,” he tells Kramer. “If I lose […]
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 deeper experiences with D&D players than some viewers might allow themselves in real life. The shows create nuanced, three-dimensional, universally sympathetic characters who earn redemption […]
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 crafted to scale. The Strong owns several copies of the original “white box” edition of D&D, created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, which implemented […]