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Game History

                                                                                                                "Game History"


For several years I had wanted to photograph people as characters in a setting taking off on Castalia of Hermann Hesse's novel, "The Glass Bead Game". But, the spring of 1976 was when I set out to start doing this and did some photographing. People I had photographed at least once and chosen as characters, I invited to meet so that together we could meet one another and discuss the project in more detail. None of them had read the novel. Out of the discussions grew a plan to hav a class, "Photoessay of a Hermann Hesse Novel," which I would facilitate through the Experimental College of Oregon State University, beginning in the Fall.

A suggestion led to modifications. That summer at a poetry gathering I was carrying a sign similar to a picketer's, displaying an enlarged front cover illustration from "The Glass Bead Game", initially to help a friend and I to meet up in the large crowd we had expected would be difficult to find each other in. A person at the gathering who stopped and asked what I meant by the sign, apparently excited by his own idea of what I was up to after I told him about the photoessay class planned, suggested that a call for rules be issued. He would send in his proposed rules. Announcements of a Glass Bead Game Public Ceremony as culmination to the Photoessay classl were posted, and "Call for Rules" was written as a response to inquiries about the Ceremony. (See 79-80 version of the poster - June issue; "Rules" - April issue.

In the fall, the class did involve some photography, along with the discussion of the novel, but increasingly as the term progressed, projecft proposals in class suggested rules for a game. (See "The Mind's Eye", "Scenes for a Scenerio", and "Synthesis" -

 January issue; "Concepts Behind the Game, on our Level, as Opposed

to Castalia" and "Rules Suggested to Initiate a Group's Generating of Symbols" - Mardch issue.) Also, by the end of the term several dozen people had written "The Committee for the Game" inquiring about the Ceremony. Several of them had their owninterpretations of the Game to propose. (See "Letters" - February and March issues ... Ted Davis... Terry Hammond ... Michael D. Angelo ... Keith A. Jordan.).

At the beginning of the second term we held a potluck at a class member's, Cammie Denney's, home. About 30 people participated, and it was a good time. Fears, though, began that we weren't very organized, much less prepared with something to meet people's expectation of a ceremony using the name,"The Glass Bead Game". The term went on ... nice weekly meetings to discuss the novel, photography, and interpretations of the game... but nothing we felt enthusiastic about to present as the Glass Bead Game to play at the Ceremony. About a week before the Ceremony was to take place the local student newspaper published an article, "Glass Bead Game Remains Mystery", (September issue). We cancelled the ceremony; prospective participants we could notify were notified to expect, instead, a potluck and a showing of the movie "Siddhartha", with a day in between for whatever would get organized once people showed up. Pentagram, a member of the class, had a game, The Silent Bead Game; Greg Soltys, who had come from Washington State the week before to help with preparations and attend the Ceremony made a mosaic of photographs and symbols he redrew from the class, and using his mosaic and chess piees I made a game, taking off on the earlier rules for generating symbols, which suggested itself as a prop for photographing people playing, "a game something like chess, only far more intricate." Each of these dwere at the potluck and shown briefly. The next day a few people experimented with the game using chess pieces and ther mosaic, and we called it the Glass Plate Game. (See "Hesse's Novel Becomes Reality in this latest Parlor Game".

After the cancelled ceremony, where the Glass Plate Game and Iobesha's were shown ("Silent Bead Game", April, 1979) communication with the 90 or so people who had written in virtually ceased. Adrian, Paul, and I were still around Corvallis for a while and discussed the game / worked on symbols from time to time.

 There weren't written rules for the Glass Plate Game; it was

simply a game people were shown how to play. Getting people's comments on draft after draft wrote rules over a period of several weeks, almost giving up... getting to think that what prevents materializing Hesse's game is writing rules for a suitable interpretation, as opposed to inventing a game one can show people how to play, *feeling* the idea is clear.

I planned, with Wes Hardin, whose suggestion it was, to have a public playing at the Allan Brothers' Beanery, downtown,July 27th. Boards made by a cabinetmaker, numbered pieces using dowels, beads, and rectangular solid pieces, and rings were ready to use along with 2 1/2" x 2 1/2" matboard idea cards and blanks, to supplement the pawns of the chess set. There were: a story in the Corvallis newspapeer, posters, and rule booklets (handed out with notice of the event on them) ("Glass Plate Game: Rules", this issue; board illustration, April, 1979; "Instructions for Improvising the Pieces", June, 1979; and "He Invented a Game to Spark Discussion; November, 79). At a second public playing, also at Allan Brothers", colored squares were added to the playing pieces and the rings dropped. There were also decks of laminated, photoduplicated cards for sale, with the rules rubber banded to them.

Traveling ... Evergreen College in Olypia ... Reed College in Portland ... Berkeley ... San Francisco ... I sold and traded decks. I met Mark Littlefield, here from England... Christal, from West Germany.

In the Fall, a more compact way to make the game, packaged with the pieces, was discussed, chiefly by Adrian, Michael Solatkin, and I. Mike, who had recently become interested through the pulbic playings, was a designer and one shape of piece he was interested in was the pyramid, which led to cubes, simpler to make and mark.

Using money from an inheritance and with a lot of help from Adrian I got into manufacturing of the sets; the dice were made at home, and the cards and boxes manufactured by jobbing out. Money was spent fast, as my usual welfare income would be cut off three months at a time, so long as the bulk of the money from the inheritance remained. At first the set included "challenge dice," later dropped for more of the regular ones.


        See: "The Glass Plate Game," by Mark Borax
             "Conversation Goal of Man's Homemade Game," by      
         Lorraine Ruff
             "Silent Conversation", issues to present

... ALSO

I was pulled in literally by a firm grip on the shoulder & a call for rules in the fall of '76 by Dunbar. We had occasional intense talks about life & I joined the class. On the 31st I went on a personal trip to the Southwest & missed the potluck at Cammies. Missed Peter. Came back in February and played with the Ceremony til it happened. Left for the Southwest May 15, (1977); returned and joined Hoedads in Eugene til October. Back to Corvallis & rejoined Committee. Dunbar's inheritance in early '78 spurred development of a mess produceable set of "careful" rules, which I kept rewriting, and a shop for production. Dunbar Paid me $4 an hour for real work and $55 for the rules that I came up with so I could keep responsibility with him. He got boxes and cards printed & I made dice and boards til I was sick of them. At Oregon Country Fair I got a booth to sell the game; took a small loss on it. Spent the rest of the summeer on the Williamette pondering and playing flute (unitl I got robbed). Put a set in my pocket & left to seek intentionla communities; Cerro Gordo; Leslie; out of touch.

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