Almost all children's games - the games we teach children and the games children invent - have a common factor. They are preparations for an adult world. More often than not this adult world is based on competition.
Children certainly enjoy acquiring and practising the skills involved in competitive games. Children learn as they play these games that there are winners and losers ; that two players become two opponents ; that players divide into two opposing teams and put all their energies into competing with one another ; that winning such competitions generally depends upon the abilities of opponents to practice their skills so as to mislead, to conceal, and often to intimidate ; and that winning in this way brings prizes as well as status.
Such games are undoubtedly a preparation for a certain sort of adult world. But an unrestricted diet of such games may also be a seriously unbalanced diet so far as children's overall development is concerned.
The games described in this chapter are all based on familiar children's games, and draw upon the skills associated with these games. But the structures of these traditional games - each holding a mirror up to the norms of an adult world - have been turned upside down.