Paula Game Ramblings LadiesGamers

Paula’s Game Ramblings: Summer Games before Video Games Arrived

Welcome to this edition of Paula’s Game Ramblings. Summer should be a time for relaxing and taking long holidays. And if you’re reading this site, you most likely prefer to relax by playing a video game, right?

Children nowadays spend a lot of time indoors plonked in front of a TV screen, headphones on, playing their game console, and talking to their friends online. But what was your summer fun like before video games appeared on the scene? Let us have a walk down memory lane and take a look at some of the games we played as children in the 60s and 70s.

Summer Outdoor Games

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My childhood home.

It’s been many years since I was a child, but I remember the fun we had long before video games were available. I grew up in Newtownards in the countryside, just outside Belfast in Northern Ireland. I spent most of my childhood years outside, playing in the fields surrounding the house with neighbourhood friends.

We played outdoor games such as Piggy in the middle, where two players take turns throwing the ball to each other over the head of a third player standing in between them. If the person in the middle catches or recovers the ball, the last person to throw it becomes the new “piggy” in the middle.

Traffic Lights

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Traffic light

Another favourite game we played was Red Light, Green Light. This game was best played by a group of friends. One person is chosen to be ‘the traffic light’, and she or he stands a good distance away from the other players with her back to them. The other players stand in a line facing the traffic light. When the traffic light shouts ‘Green Light,’ the other players move towards her until she spins around, calling ‘Red Light.’

The other players must freeze on the spot when they hear the red light command. Then, if any child is seen moving, they must return to the starting line. The remaining players must remain frozen until the next ‘Green Light’ command is given. Then play continues until someone reaches and tags the “traffic light”. Then, the tagger becomes the new traffic light, and the game begins again.

Stuck in the Mud

My friends and I did a lot of running around and were never still for long unless we played one particular game where we had to stand still for some of it: Stuck in the Mud.

Stuck in the Mud is a somewhat more involved game of Tag; most of us are likely to have played Stuck in the Mud at some point during our primary school life. The player who is ‘on’ must tap and tag the other players stuck in the Mud. Stuck players must stand still with their feet wide apart until another player frees them by crawling through their legs.


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If we had chalk, we would draw out Hopscotch on the ground, which used to irritate my mother. Especially if she had just washed the yard and we were drawing all over it. To play Hopscotch, you toss a small object, usually a stone, into a numbered pattern of rectangles outlined on the ground, and then you hop or jump through the spaces to retrieve the stone.

Kerby not Kirby

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Sorry Kirby it is not you

Games were simple, and it didn’t take much to amuse us. For example, we all loved to play Kerby. That’s Kerby with an ‘e’ and not to be confused with Kirby, the video game.

I’m not sure the kids nowadays play Kerby since there are far more cars on the roads. We played it during a time when there were fewer cars on the road, Kerby requires two players to stand on opposite sides of the road to throw their ball at the opposite kerb. A football worked best, but those with an outstanding aim often fancied their chances with a tennis ball.

Points were awarded for a direct kerb hit which also entitled the winning player to move to the middle of the road and make a second attempt from a closer distance. The winner of Kerby is the player with the highest points. Our games were often interrupted by loud chorus calls of “CAR” when one appeared along the road.

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This is me chatting to the cows, I think I’m around 10 years old.

For the rest of the summer holidays, which is 9 weeks for children in Northern Ireland, we rode our bikes along the country roads and lanes. Of course, we always found plenty of mischievous activities to get up to and had a few scrapes along the way and a chat with the local cows, it was great fun!


  1. Thank you for sharing this lovely reminiscence, and for getting me thinking about the games of my youth that did not take place in front of a television screen. Back then I would do everything in my power to stay outside as long as possible, exiting my apartment fresh and eager early in the morning and returning home after dark in a deep fatigue and full of the day’s adventures. We played tag. We played hide-and-seek. We played kickball. We tied a rope to the merry-go-round and spun it as hard as possible, then took turns jumping over the rope as it whipped around, threatening to drag us under by our scuffed and twiggy legs. We strapped roller blades to our feet and put on stunt shows for the neighborhood kids. When you come from a troubled home, the outdoors are a refuge. To this day a sense of ease and freedom accompanies all my outdoor adventures, though I’ve managed to create a safe and comfortable nest for myself in which I frequently excuse myself from the goings on of life and immerse in video games. This piece is a lovely reminder of those old feelings of curiosity, camaraderie and just plain fun. Cheers!

    1. Hi, Thanks for reading. I’m glad it brought back good memories for you to, it did the same for me while I was writing it. I remember playing all the games you mention as well. I loved my roller skates, jumping rope and making a swing with a rope on a lamppost. Happy memories!

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