Bartel lays out the “unofficial official rules” for Calvinball, a game characterized by mayhem and nonsense. Those of you familiar with Bill Watterson’s comic strip Calvin and Hobbes will recognize that Calvinball is a free-for-all where the rules change on the whim of the player who has the upper hand.
The interesting thing about games is that you need rules for the play to be enjoyable. But the rules should have some flexibility – consider how a golf handicap makes it possible for players with different levels of skill to play together.
We’ve played a modified version of Calvinball with our youthgroup. It’s a lot of fun to play once in a while. To keep the game engaging we played it like this: the game starts off with the same rules as half-court basketball. At any time the player in possession of the ball my change one rule. Typically the game morphs into something like soccer or dodgeball.
The rules layed out on bartel.org imply that anyone within a Zone can call a rule-change at any time. The zones can be changed but there must remain zones on the field in order to play.
It’s a fun and worthy way to kill an afternoon. But be prepared to play a classic game of stickball if your group isn’t energized by a game with ultimate flexibility.