As children – and sometimes as adults – we’ve all probably played the game “The Floor is X”, where X is some unsafe substance that will kill you. In my case, the substance was almost always lava, although occasionally it was quicksand or just the empty void of deep space.
The object of this “game” – such as it is – was to survive by not touching the floor. Maybe you had to get out of the room (volcano/jungle/spaceship), maybe you just had to stay put for rescue (a lonely prospect for only children), and the only way to move about the floor was via climbing furniture, jumping from thrown cushion to cushion, or even stepping on stuffed animals that might be cluttering up the room.
I probably didn’t have to go into so much detail – this game seems pretty universal, but I wanted to be sure terms were clear before I got to the meat of this post: How, and where, did this game start?
It seems odd to me that something so simple, with the same basic rules and the same basic guidelines, should manifest itself in a large number of children without outside influence. Regardless of race, age, class or national origin – everyone knows this game, most have played it, and most deny “learning” about it – it just occurred to them that it might be fun.
And, it was fun… But why does it occur so commonly? Is it some throw back to some ancient time, so prehistoric survival skills buried deeply in our DNA? Is this one of the few strong ties to our genetic forebears that we just won’t understand?
If so – do the primates “play” in such a way, or is this something unique to humans (cats, too I suppose. Watch them run around the house – they, too, know the dangers of the floor)?
This is something that would make for an amazing study, and although it might not cure anything or even make the world a much better, brighter place to be in, it’d give us a much greater insight into our own species, the collective psyche.
And, maybe, help us figure out where that damn lava keeps coming from anyway.