…they’re all wet behind the ears


The Doclopedia # 1,235

The Crazy Game: A Brief History

This very brief history of the Crazy Game is based upon interviews with 157 individuals of 26 species from 5 continents. Much of the early game is known today solely because animals have a racial memory and, in some cases, a rich oral history.

All species of mammals and most birds play games. Play has many purposes that you can read about elsewhere. It’s one of the many things animals have in common with humans.

So, about 3,000 years ago, the domesticated animals, several kinds of birds and some wild animals watched humans play primitive soccer type games and thought they might give something like that a try. Wise dogs advised against doing it where humans could see, because “humans get weird when they see us imitate them too closely”.

The game was even more raucous fun than the human version, so first dogs, then wild canids, then many other species took it up as a fun pastime. Different species played in different ways, but it always involved a group of three or more and the possession and loss of some item. Often, the item was chosen at random just before play started.

“You might start off with a stick this time and a dead rat next time. They’d use rags, old bones, whatever.” Aldo, a standard poodle

“It was pretty rare for more than one species to play together, but if it happened, it was herbivores doing it out in the wild during migrations.” Josie, a Holstein cow

These games remained essentially unchanged for over 2,500 years, until a few semi-Smart animals popped up. They watched humans and introduced the concepts of goal areas, teams and teamwork.

“We think it started in England or Scotland. Bunch of terriers got it going. It spread fast to Europe and other places, most likely via crows or ravens.” Goobie, a Norwich Terrier

Things evolved rapidly from then, with time limits and rules of conduct being plugged in. Of course, different species had different ideas about how to play.

“Horses played a whole lot rougher than, say, cattle. Elephants were surprisingly nonviolent. Of course, like humans, chimpanzees turned every game into a fucking battle.” Sammy, an Appaloosa horse

As mid 19th Century saw the first Smart Dogs and Cats arise, it also saw boredom with the same old games arise. With the spread of Smartness, new games and new versions of old games flourished.

“I remember my granny telling me how they used to play a sort of hide & seek version of Toss The Twig up in the canopy of the rain forest when she was young. It was all the rage around 1890.” Luther, a Scarlet Macaw (age 75)

Even with these variations, the Crazy Game was not all that crazy for many decades, until the day a Smart Dog and a Smart Cat read the very first Calvin and Hobbes comic strip that mentioned Calvinball.

This wacky game, the product of a little boy’s mind (and a common thing among human kids) got them thinking and telling their friends about it. It took surprisingly little time for the random rules and equipment of Calvinball to make it’s was into animal games. After hearing more than one older animal (or even a human) refer to these games as “crazy”, the aficionados of the game officially dubbed it “The Crazy Game.

The rest is history.