Are Children’s Games Excluding?

Note: This is an old article I wrote last term for Drama school; my class were focusing on including and excluding subjects that the world suffers and in our spare time, we were asked to research and send information that are either inclusive or excluding. I’ve chosen many subjects and some, I’ve written in articles. This is the first I have put online but I’ll see how it goes before I’ll post some more.  

When I was a young girl, I remember going to after-school events, classes and holiday workshops like Girl Guides and school productions. Although I liked the activities they did, my favourite thing was to play games. However, what I didn’t realise was how some of my favourite childhood games were excluding. I was pretty shocked about this situation and I’m still shocked that these kinds of prejudice still exist today.

In one lesson on Developing Inclusion Children’s Theatre, my class peers and I did various exercises on inclusion and excluding activities for Children’s and Youth Theatre Workshops; most of them used original games like “Musical Chairs” as examples for activities that are excluding, then tried to alternate them so the games are inclusive for everyone. Afterwards, we had discussions about them, as a whole year group. And it is their discussions that have inspired me to write this article and explain why some of my favourite games are excluding.

I have been excluded by some of these games but I choose five because, I believe they can exclude an entire group, not just individuals themselves.

  • Duck, Duck, Goose – It is a traditional game that children first learn in nursery or reception at school, but what makes this game excluding? While the rules are simple, playing the game isn’t. Duck, Duck, Goose isn’t a fair game to play because children will often pick their close friends to be the ones chasing them and what about the children in wheelchairs? The chairs won’t be able to come out of the circle or chase after their peers. This is completely unfair for them because they won’t get a chance to join in and have fun.
  • Splat – Otherwise known as Bang, this game was a personal favourite at the Girl Guides. This was the first game (I didn’t know at first) I came to realise that was excluding. Not only the leader chooses who the splatter is, but the person who’s the splatter chooses who gets splatted and who is out. The peers have to be quick ducking and splatting opponents, otherwise they are out, until there are two people remaining. Children will often get jealous when they see an individual winning a game and this can lead to arguments.
  • Fruit Salad – It is very creative and a good learning game to teach children how to eat healthily (in my opinion). But, it is excluding because the leader, again, chooses a player to lead the game, divide their peers into groups and calls on the names of fruit to change places, separately, despite a few chances when everyone will stand up and find chairs to sit on.
  • The Name Game – It’s a great way to get to know your peers names. However, this is excluding in many different ways; what I’m interested in is the physically within the game. Again, it is a problem for wheelchair users. While other children can happily free use action moves to go with their name, they will not be able to. They’ll be stuck, only having to say just their name rather joining in with creative actions when it’s their turn.
  • Runner Beans – It is another physical game (and it used to make me giggle a lot when I used to play it). But like “Splat”, it is excluding because there is only one person who would lead the game; in other words, the leader. Then, the children would have to listen to instructions like “French Beans” or “Baked Beans” and copy each other, acting out the beans, using their bodies. These include lying down, flat on the floor or jogging on the spot like athletes. It is a huge problem for wheelchair users because they won’t be able to appreciate at all.

It is disgraceful that most theatre companies and well-known after-school events allow to teach children excluding others. It shows that even we are living in the modern world, we are failing behind on equality and fairness for all children and young people. We are also letting down future generations by not doing anything to resolve these situations.

In my opinion, teachers should, like my peers did in the Development lesson, alternate the games and make them different in order to make them inclusive. For example, they could have three splatters in a game of “Splat”. Also, instead of making people sit down they are splat, the leader could allow the children to be splatters themselves. In one way, it is better because everyone is included and it’ll help to strengthen the children’s team work skills. Hopefully, in time, a movement like this will happen everywhere and people will come to realise how excluding we had become and it’ll be possible to change all of this.