Serialized specially for The Well-Red Mage, based on the podcast by Wesley Schantz
“The following is a contributor post by the Bookwarm Mage.”
Welcome to Bookwarm games, this is Wesley Schantz [aka the Bookwarm Mage] and Michele and Eddie Schantz. We are recording with three of the four Schantz as Elliot’s down in Eureka, where I just visited him. He’s doing well, but said thanks all the same, he’s not interested in recording. But maybe he’ll at least listen to this at some point!
I wanted to talk to you guys about games. I know that we played a lot of video games, like EarthBound, and soccer games growing up, but I wanted to start by asking about some of the games that you played growing up. Mom, I know you rode horses and all that, and Dad, you were manager for the basketball team, but maybe there’s other games that you guys remember playing, and that you’d want to share your experiences of?
ES: OK, starting pretty early on, one of the games we played was bike tag, on the campus at Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA, where I grew up. Just a bunch of us kids would get on bikes and I guess it would start out that one person was it, and every time he caught somebody then they were also it. So it got real interesting towards the end when it was only one person left. That was one we used to play. And hide and seek, everyone knows what that is. And we played some board games when we got a little older. I guess before that we played like checkers and later chess, and then some board games like Monopoly or Clue or Risk.
Elliot and I played a game of chess the other day when I was visiting. He beat me, but it was a close game. You would always beat me at chess playing with The Simpson chessboard and pieces that we had.
ES: Yeah I remember that.
How about you, Mom? What did you guys play growing up?
MS: Well, we almost used to have a ritual on Sunday afternoons of playing board games. It started out being a game where you shot a little round thing and tried to get it in the holes in the corners. I don’t know what the game is called, but it came from my great grandmother’s house. We actually have it downstairs. Then it went on to what you know as your grandmother’s favorite game of Scrabble. That used to be almost a Sunday ritual.
Did you guys tend to have a streak where one person would win over and over, or did it sort of go back and forth, or someone different would win each week?
MS: It kind of went back and forth, or somebody different would win each week. Though if my dad would play he typically would win, as the English teacher he would, you know, figure things out. But he didn’t always play.
That’s something I wanted to ask about, then, with winning and losing being a big element of the game. At least for me when I was little, that was a big deal, but as I’ve gotten older I think I’ve gotten more interested in other elements of the game. Getting everybody involved, and stuff like that. And maybe that’s something that you guys have experienced, too? Do you remember the point at which–I know you competed with horses, right, Mom?–but a point where you became less interested in winning and more interested in getting to play the game? Or Dad, with the basketball team, was it always more about everybody playing well together, or was it about doing everything possible to win? Thoughts about that dynamic?
MS: I think for me and the horse thing, I didn’t start riding until I was an older teenager, and at that point it was something I had wanted to do for so long that winning wasn’t really the accomplishment; for me the accomplishment was getting out there and doing it. So that’s probably not a great example…
That seems to support my suspicions about it, that growing up and getting older what happens is sort of that drive to win at all costs is less and less of the motivation.
MS: I think that’s true for me, at least in that particular aspect.
ES: And me, I guess when I was a basketball manager it was more just handling the details so that the players could play, and to make sure everything was there when the team would practice. Sometimes it would be the Varsity team practicing and JV wasn’t, so there were basketball hoops that weren’t part of the playing area. So I could play one-on-one against some of the JV guys, and by the time I got to be a senior some of the JV guys were a year or two younger and I could actually beat them one-on-one. So that was neat, but I guess what you’re talking about, it would be more when I ran track and I was actually a participant. My senior year in high school I ran track, and in my freshman year in college I did. And for that it was important to win, but it was also–I think I had more fun just being there with everybody else and working with them. Especially on the relay team, passing the baton, trying to get that right. We had an exchange zone where you had to exchange the baton, you had to pass it safely in that 20 or so yards. And of course there was competition with the other teams that made it really interesting. That was a lot of fun. And then I think if it wasn’t my event then it was interesting just to hang out with the other guys, where their event was coming up or they just finished whatever that was. Because there’s usually at least a couple different things going on at the same time at a track meet, you have something for the field events and some running event.
I know growing up I made a lot of the friends that I had through playing soccer, just from spending so much time together at practice and going to tournaments and all, driving back and forth to all the games, so I definitely agree with that. Another aspect–just to pick up on that baton-passing idea, and that there’s a kind of transition, something like that, where one player passes the baton to the next: that seems like a really interesting metaphor for this kind of growing up, this thing about playing different games and playing games differently over time as well. I’m curious–I don’t want to say there’s a point at which you stop playing games, I don’t think that seems to work. At least you still have the urge to play and to teach games to younger people, and to coach and all that stuff, but I’m curious about what you would experience watching us, Elliot and me, play soccer? In some sense you passed the baton to us, so you were on the sidelines watching us play. Was it hard to always just be a spectator? Did you want to get into the game and play? Or what were your feelings about that?
MS: Well in some sense think it was a feeling of pride because you both were certainly teammates and were good with your teams. So there’s a certain sense of pride there. For me, I think a lot of it too was suddenly learning this game that I really knew very little about. And I did find myself, like during practices, if Elliot and I were at your practice or something, wanting to kick the ball back and forth with him. Kind of just becoming involved that way, but yet knowing that I could never really get good at the game. But you know, I think it was a lot of sense of pride for me.
ES: Yeah, same for me. And like Mom, I hadn’t played soccer growing up, so it was a new sport, so it was having to learn the dynamics of it. Any soccer fans or players aren’t going to like to hear this, but the only exposure to soccer that I had in middle school (or back then, junior high school) and high school, was if in gym class (now called PE)–if in gym class we weren’t behaving ourselves or someone misbehaved, the punishment was to play soccer! But you know I played a little bit, and with Elliot we would kick it back and forth, and I remember at the Corner Kick [a local indoor facility] we got a little more involved. I guess there was some opportunity to actually play more there. It was pride, too, seeing how you guys did and just how you played together as a team.
I don’t know if you remember, but when you were really young I think one of the things that got you interested in soccer was when it snowed and there were snowballs or ice pieces on the ground, I would kick them at you and you would be kind of playing dodgeball. I think that’s maybe how you got interested in soccer.
The main sport when I was growing up, for most of the kids in my generation, was little league baseball. But that takes a lot of hand-eye coordination and kids I don’t think can really play baseball till they’re at least 10. Kids are very adept at soccer at age 5 or 6. It’s just a more natural thing to do, using your feet and legs.
And like you made a lot of friends with your teammates, we got to know some of the parents and have kept in touch with some of them.
Getting involved in soccer, now, I know you guys haven’t had a whole lot of time to watch the World Cup, but just as the last question here: who’s your team? Since the US are not in it this year , which team are you rooting for? Who do you think will win the World Cup this year?
MS: Well I actually have a verbal bet with the two Mexican guys at the barn. I’m picking Uruguay, and they’re actually after this morning, I think, picking Brazil.
Ah, whoever won between Mexico and Brazil was going to be their pick! Uruguay, sure, that’s who I want to win. How about you, Dad?
ES: I’m always really liking some particular player who just really excels in any sport. If it was swimming–in the Olympics I wasn’t all that interested in swimming, but when I saw Greg Louganis dive, I said, Oh, that so this is what a diver’s supposed to look like. Or it’s unusual. Like Johnny Weir skating, he doesn’t have the technical ability of some of the other competitors, but he’s just very graceful. One movement flows very smoothly into the next. So I guess my favorite in soccer is Messi, just because he can–he’s just a master at what he does. So I guess for that reason I like Argentina…but I know they’re already out.
I like that answer as well. Thinking about players who demonstrate the game at its highest level, that made me think of Roger Federer in tennis. How that was a sport I got into kind of later on. I didn’t play it as a kid; like you said, the hand-eye coordination thing. I never could have played it as a little kid, but I got into it later on.
So this is kind of my new game that I’ve been playing here, is making these podcasts. I hope that you guys have enjoyed the ones you’ve had a chance to listen to. Thanks again for coming on and talking to me, I really appreciate it, and I love you and I’ll see you soon.
ES: We love you, too. We’re really proud of you for doing this, finding it very interesting!
Thanks. Take care!
Did you enjoy this post? Consider becoming a Warrior of Light and join us in restoring integrity and quality to games writing through thoughtful, long-form reviews. We’re a community aspiring to pay our contributors and build a fairer and happier alternative to mainstream games writing and culture. See our Patreon page for more info!