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8 Surprisingly Fun Games Uncle Sam Told Soldiers to Play in 1943

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In 1943, the U.S. War Department issued a manual packed with "informal" games that men might play if they were lucky enough to have downtime. The games were intended to occupy mind and body, manage stress, and subtly provide tactical training. Which might explain why so many games involved tackling and beating your fellow soldiers. But other, less physical games translate great from the barracks to the backyard. Here are eight of our favorites.

1. One Out

Equipment: Any easily obtained objects, such as sticks, shirts, or rocks

How to play: This is basically a game of musical chairs meant for soldiers instead of toddlers. So, no music, no graham crackers, but probably a comparable amount of shoving and punching. A line of sticks or similar objects are laid about 40 feet from the players. If there are 10 players, only 9 sticks are laid out, and so forth. At the signal, the players race to the line, "secure" themselves a stick, and race back. The player left stick-less is out, until only one remains.

2. Team Stick Guard

Equipment: A ball and two sticks

How to play: This game is a small serving of Capture the Flag with a heavy side of basketball. Each team has their own stick driven into the ground, surrounded by a 10-foot circle and a "goalie" to protect it. No other players are allowed in the goalie's circle. The referee begins play by throwing the ball between two men of opposing teams. The aim is for them to maneuver the ball close enough to knock the other team's stick out of the ground. Many of the rules from basketball apply: no running with the ball, holding, tripping, tackling, or touching. Such fouls results in a free throw at the opposing stick from the center of the field. The losing team is the one with the most knocked over pin.

3. Box Hockey

Equipment: A homemade box (7 feet by 3.5 feet, with or without a bottom) matching the one above, two sticks, and a ball or piece of wood small enough to fit through the holes

How to play: First, build the box, which probably took all of 20 minutes for men of this generation. From there, it's air hockey with less finger pinching and more accidental knee clubbing. Start the game with the ball balanced on the center partition. Clap sticks three times above the ball, and the game is on. The goal is to get the ball through your opponent's hole. If the ball is knocked out of the arena, it is rolled back in on the opposite side. No stepping inside the box; first person to five points is the winner.

4. Rooster Fight

Equipment: None

How to play: A man from each team is called out, and he must hop on one foot, hands held behind his back, to meet his opponent. The winning man is the one who knocks the other over, or causes him to put his foot down or arms out for balance. Another posture for the game is called "The Drake," which is hands never leaving ankles, as shown in the circle above. (This game thinly avoids becoming bloody combat by wisely removing most dangerous appendages from the battle.)

5. Log Roll

Equipment: Grassy area or floor mats

How to play: Two teams lie side by side on the ground. Starting with the end man, each player must roll over his entire team as soon as he himself is rolled over. The winner is the first team to have their front man roll over all of his men.

6. Chain Dodge Ball

Equipment: Kickball or other soft ball

How to play: This version of dodge ball adds a complex but fun twist. The men form groups of four to six players, each player holding the waist of the person in front of him. Everyone else forms a circle around them. The object is to hit only the end man of the "It" team with the ball. Players in the circle can toss the ball any way they think will accomplish this, and the "It" team can weave and run and flex in any formation possible to avoid it. The front man of the team can even use his hands to bat away the ball from the end man. The players are picked off one by one until the whole team is eliminated. Whichever team stayed inside the circle the longest is the winner.

7. Quick Line Up

Equipment: None

How to play: Simon Says with a loyal army at his feet. The players divide into four equal teams and line up, tallest to shortest, forming a square around the man who's "It." The four lines are designated, "1, 2, 3, 4." Now "It" can walk anywhere he wants on the field, and wherever he stops, the other players must scramble to reassemble their lines around him, same position, same sides. One point to the team who assembles correctly the fastest, first team to five points win.

8. Baste the Bear

Equipment: Buttocks

How to play: As full as this manual was of beating gamesfull-on assault games, and uncomfortably intimate games, it seemed unprincipled not to include at least one. One of the "tamer" rough games is Baste the Bear. The "Bear" in this case must bend at the center of the circle, his posterior presented. He has a "Keeper" whose job it is to protect his rump. The rest of the players circle, trying to slap the bear's buttocks with their open hands. If the Keeper tags a slapper when they reach toward the Bear, the slapper is the new Bear and selects his own tush guardian. Under scoring and winners, the manual simply lists, "None."

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Dungeons & Dragons Gets a Digital Makeover
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Since the 1970s, players have been constructing elaborate campaigns in Dungeons & Dragons using nothing but paper, pencils, rule books, and 20-sided dice. That simple formula has made D&D the quintessential role-playing game, but the game's publisher thinks it can be improved with a few 21st-century updates. As The Verge reports, Wizards of the Coast is launching a digital toolset meant to enhance the gaming experience.

The tool, called D&D Beyond, isn’t meant to be a replacement for face-to-face gameplay. Rather, it’s designed to save players time and energy that could be better spent developing characters or battling orcs. The resource includes a fifth-edition rule book users can search by keyword. At the start of a new campaign, they can build monsters and characters within the program. And players don’t need to worry about forgetting to bring their notes to a quest—D&D Beyond keeps track of information like items and spells in one convenient location.

"D&D Beyond speaks to the way gamers are able to blend digital tools with the fun of storytelling around the table with your friends,” Nathan Stewart, senior director of Dungeons & Dragons, said in a statement when the concept was first announced. "These tools represent a way forward for D&D.”

This isn’t the first attempt to bring D&D into the digital age; videogames inspired by the fictional world have been produced since the 1980s. Unlike those titles, though, D&D Beyond will still highlight the imagination-fueled role-playing aspect of the game when it launches August 15.

[h/t The Verge]

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Can You Spot Fake News? A New Game Puts Your Knowledge to the Test
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In 2017, misinformation is easier than ever to access. During the 2016 election, scammers—including hordes of Macedonian teens—raked in serious money by churning out deliberately fake stories about U.S. politics, with a very real impact. In a December 2016 Pew Research Center survey, 64 percent of U.S. adults said that fabricated news was sowing "a great deal of confusion" about current events.

It can be hard to determine what’s real and what’s fake in the viral news world. A new game—expected to launch for iPhone on July 10—will test your skills. Fake News, designed by the creative agency ISL, asks players to distinguish between headlines found on true stories and headlines drawn from fake news sites (as determined by fact-checking sites like Snopes, Politifact, FactCheck.org).

The simple, arcade-style game for iPhone asks you to swipe left on fake headlines and swipe right on true ones. You have 100 seconds to sort through as many headlines as you can, competing for the highest score with other users. For instance, did Arby’s really get its name because “RB” is another way of saying roast beef? (No, RB stands for Raffel Brothers, the founders.) Does Jeff Goldblum really have a food truck named Chef Goldblum’s? (Kind of. It was a film promotion stunt.)

Fake News also exists as a physical arcade game. The creators installed a table-top arcade game in a D.C. bar on July 5, and may install it elsewhere depending on demand.

The game is harder than you’d expect, even if you think of yourself as fairly well-informed. As research has found, viral stories require two things: limited attention spans and a network already overwhelmed with information. In other words, our daily Internet lives. The more information we try to handle at one time, the more likely it is that we’ll fall for fake news.

Scientists found in a recent study that warning people that political groups try to spread misinformation about certain issues (like climate change) can help people sort through dubious claims. While that’s good to remember, it’s not always useful in real-life situations. It certainly won’t help you win this game.

One of the reasons Fake News is so hard, even if you keep abreast of everyday news, is that it doesn’t tell you where the headlines are from. Checking the source is often the easiest way to determine the veracity of a story—although it’s not a foolproof system.

Need help finding those sources? This Chrome plug-in will flag news from troublesome sources in your Facebook feed.

Update: The game is available for iOS here.

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