How does a child manage and contain his or her "monsters?" A new
game sweeping the nation's youth is helping kids become Sentinels of
Vigilance. The name of the game is "Yugioh," and it is all about
Vigilance. Find out how you can battle the Beast of
Terror with your deck.
Tuesday, March 2,
2004—Ground Zero Plus 902
Monsters Of The Imagination
GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Mar. 2, 2004 -- It's tough to be seven
years old again, but that's what I did yesterday afternoon.
I forced my mind and body back five decades to an age of innocence, an
age when I created monsters to play with and conquer, instead of, as
we do when we get older, create them to torture and conquer me.
I forced my
self to return to an era when I created imaginary play monsters as
Being seven again brought up the
questions: "Why do we turn our imaginary play monsters into real
ones as we mature? Why do they become our worst enemies
rather than just playmates?"
and many more questions stirred in me as I joined my wife and daughter
for a late afternoon trip to Tompkins Square Park in the East Village
where the neighborhood children gather around slides and monkey bars
and swings to learn interaction and run off excess calories.
My grandson, Matt, brought his deck of Yu-Gi-Oh (Yugioh) cards to
challenge me a duel--his monsters against mine.
wanted me to play Yugioh with him
At first, I wasn't really interested because I don't know how to play
the game. When I ask about the rules I get bombarded with
information and feel like my brain is being stapled to the side of bus
roaring down 5th Avenue at rush hour.
It's not easy being Intimidated by a seven-year-old, but then I
remembered the idea of being a Sentinel of Vigilance. It's about
listening to children, not avoiding their thoughts, dreams, their
wonder walls. I agreed to his challenge, to be his
Matt wanted me
to join him in the playground "tree house"
Matt wanted me to join him in the "tree house"
to play Yugioh. The tree house is part of iron and wood fortress
at one end of the playground. It has a slide attached, various
ladders for kids to climb, a kind of suspension bridge that the
children can jump up and down on as others pass over it, and, a soft
foamy matting surrounding it so if someone falls they land without
I elected not to climb up and place my
six-foot-four-inch 270-pound body on the structure, thus blocking its
use to any and all children. Instead, I stood, eye level with
Matt as he sat cross-legged and divided his deck of Yugioh cards in
half, giving me a fair equal chance to have as "good" a selection of
"monsters" as he had.
I could tell you how the game works, or what its end-goal is.
The best I can share with you is that each monster has a combination
of "attack" and "defense" points, and if your "monster" has more
"attack" points than your opponent's monster's "defense" points, you
send that monster to its "graveyard."
are an array of "magic" and "spell" cards that add to the power of
existing cards. In this arena, I am completely lost.
we were playing, a herd of young boys crowded around. The look
on their faces was similar to my grandson and me eating a delicious
ice cream cone on a hot day as the boys looked on, licking their lips.
"I have Yugioh cards too," one said. "At home."
recognized a giant gap between my attitude toward the game and the
kids' attitudes. Later, when I got home, I looked up the
history of the game.
artist Kazuki Takahashi created Yugioh
It didn't get started until 1996 by Japanese comic book artist, Kazuki
Takahashi. The game is based on Takahashi's main
character, Yugi, who is a weak and childish boy but becomes a
hero when he plays games. He's essentially Clark Kent
until you put a deck of Yugioh cards into his hands.
Takahashi, born in 1961, says "all boys love monsters.
What I had to do is fit the creature to the characteristics of the
character playing the card. For instant, Kaiba, Yugi's
archenemy, is mean and vicious, so his cards tend to be that way."
The game is
based on the main character Yugi
The trick to the game is it has to be played face-to-face with an
opponent, like a "real duel." Each child collects his or her own
cards. Some are more coveted than others; currently there are
more than 1,000 different monsters. The one most desired is the
first monster created by Takahashi, Blue Eyes White Dragon.
After playing the game a couple of times, I found myself slipping out
of my "old-man-don't-bother-me-with-kid's-stuff" skin and traveling
slowly back in time when I was Golden Arrow, riding my golden Palomino
to fight off the "bad guys" who threatened the damsels in distress.
Then, there was my secret desire to be Superboy, and how I often
ripped open my shirt in absolute belief that under it was Superboy
uniform, and so disappointed I often cried because there wasn't one.
I too, wanted to slay the "monsters" of my time.
collects his or her own cards
I realized that my grandson, along with thousands of other young boys,
and young girls, was learning how to "fight" monsters and "win."
They were learning that battle with "monsters" isn't always what it
seems, for there are "spell" cards and other "magic" cards that can
shift and change, keeping the game fluid, in a state of flux that
requires one to be on his or her toes at all times.
From a Vigilance point of view, the game teaches that Complacency can
be "deadly." And, like chess, one has to think ahead to
have the advantage, for what is today may not be the same in a blink
of the eye.
Monsters--the Beast of Terror--thrive on Fear, Intimidation and
Complacency. But Yugioh is challenging that.
It makes the child a "Sentinel of Monster Vigilance," able to arm
himself or herself against a wide range of assaults.
And, it creates teamwork. The game cannot be played without
another. And, there is communion among players whether
they be in America, Japan or Africa. Each is fighting
monsters, with "his or her own deck."
If one wants to win, one collects a strong deck. The
responsibility for defending one's self rests upon each player's
shoulders. It doesn't belong to society.
We all must wrestle our own monsters.
The Principles of Vigilance--Courage, Conviction and Right Actions for
future generations--seem to play well as the kids fight the monsters.
The ultimate goal is to protect the world from "evil."
Each player is the "good" guy fighting the "bad" guy. No
one can really lose.
I am going to
learn to play and be a better Sentinel of Vigilance
When I got through examining the essentials of the game, I thought
about my grandson. He was teaching me how to be a better
Sentinel of Vigilance. I could have discounted the game and
really not inquired about it, and just pretended to play it.
Now, I'm going to develop my own deck.
After all, we never grow out of our monsters. But,
if we're not careful, our monsters grow out of us.
My deck of Yugioh cards will keep them in check.
Maybe you should get a deck too!
Mar 1--Suffering On
The Cross Of Vigilance