The games people play

Allison Declercq-Matthäs, Contributor Ω

On Monday, Feb. 4, people were milling around the exhibits in Old Main’s art gallery like they were the latest high-tech product. However, with the exception of an area tucked away in a cozy corner, all the displays were actually products of ancient civilizations. So what had the visitors, ranging in age from youth to the elderly, so excited?


Familiar toys like kites, jump ropes and chess sets lined the walls with a variety of exotic games mixed in. Juxtaposed beside Congklak, humanity’s oldest game was an opening, which led to a small niche called Geek-eDen. The space featured a stereotypical geek paradise. Ben Eastabrook shaped the exhibit based on the house he shares with his roommates.

“Well, I was a little more carefree ¬– just throwing laundry around,” said Eastabrook. He led the installing of the show, titled The Games People Play.

Described as a multi-layered artist, curator Tricia Sellmer’s influence could be seen throughout the show. The games were not only on display; visitors were encouraged to play with them.

“To see people play the games, even hopscotch, makes my heart sing,” Sellmer said at the opening. Each game featured a write-up documenting its origin and history.

The original idea for the show was to contact various international artists and host their work, but Sellmer discovered a cheaper, better alternative. She integrated several pieces by local artists, creating a hometown game-store backdrop for the show. The organizers estimated the opening drew about 100 people.

“We didn’t know quite what to expect,” said Sellmer. “This crowd [size] is quite unusual.”

Morgan Benedict and Kit Langfield certainly enjoyed their game of crokinole. Neither realized the game originated from Ontario.

“It’s fun and frustrating,” Benedict said.

“You have to be really gentle,” Langfield said.

This exhibition will remain open next week during the evenings.