Cowboys and Indians

When I was a kid, the neighbor kids and I would often play games of fantasy, with game names like "Cowboys and Indians" and "Cops and Robbers". Usually did not matter which "side one was on", it was the game playing that was important.

These games involved imaginatively pasting a fantasized "identity mask" on the neighbor kids who were on the opposite side of whichever side oneself was on. When ever one would find a member of the "opposite side" the two would go "bang bang," shoot imaginary arrows at, or whatever at each other.

It was an acting out of something that got everybody into physical movement and engaged the imagination, and nobody got hurt, nobody "won", it was the playing of the game was what was the significant thing, it seemed.

Yet the process of "pasting a fantasized identity mask" on specific others got a lot of practice, and involved taking physical aggressive action in response to that fantasied identity mask. This pattern of behavior seems to persist on into adulthood, but it becomes less conscious and less physically activating.

Another type of kids game was where there was archetypically "the loner vs the gangsters" such as "playing tag" or "hide-n-seek." One took on the role assigned, and the other kids took on their corresponding role in the game and all had fun playing it out in the physically real world.

As kids grew older, the group-conflict type games got more codified into games like basketball, soccer, and baseball. It was team vs team, done for the fun of physical interaction and then later also for getting the attraction of a crowd, even in a stadium.

The "the loner vs the gangsters" type game usually was such a given loser for the easily group-overpowered loner that those kind of games only got played out in more abstract fantasy like in the movies, or in video games where the lone player munches or shoots down an endless stream of ersatz archetypal gangster types.

Games teach ways of responding to situations in real life.

And it still involves "pasting on a fantasized identity" onto real life physical others. Then one responds to that fantasized identity, but physically acting on real people and objects. That fantasized identity can be just about anything, such as "loving sensual mate" or "dangerous enemy soldier." The fantasized identity tends to describe what response one is to have to the other person/people.

It is all about playing roles.


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