simple is beautiful
New York Daily Photo: Danger and Caution
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Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Danger and Caution

The rules to Capture the Flag are incredibly simple (in theory) - the goal is to capture the opponent's flag, located at their team's base, and bring it back to your team's base. Yet to watch this game played in the city is to witness something bordering an anarchistic mêlée. Some players are running everywhere (nearly crashing into onlookers) and others are standing for no reason I can fathom; some are chatting with the enemy, sometimes in jail; boundaries seem ill defined or not at all, and the score is not announced. The members of the two teams - Danger and Caution - wear identifying plastic strips around their wrists. The flags are knotted rags as seen in the photo. Thinking this was a new geek creation unique to the city, I was surprised to learn that this is an old game - I actually found reference to it in a Boy Scout manual from 1947 and that Robert Kennedy Jr. has been known to have 100 person games at his property in Mt. Kisco, NY. There are versions which incorporate areas of neighborhoods in Brooklyn. The photos show the game as played by NYU students in the evenings in Washington Square Park. Capture the flag is part of a trend in urban gaming with others like Pacmanhattan and manhunt. I've discussed the game with a professor at NYU (with a PhD in physics) who frequents the park and has observed the game and also is confused while watching. He agrees that it is only fully understandable by the young and wild spirited :) ...

Photo Note: The photos are from from August 30, 2007. I intended to coordinate with the group of players and do a more extensive shooting with a flash system, but it never happened.


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