Other games approximated games that were already faint approximations of still other games. And so tennis was replicated by Ping-Pong, which was in turn replicated by Gnip Gnop, a portable Parker Brothers echo of table tennis. But all of these, alas, were waylaid by Pong, the original video game, which three decades ago ushered in the digital age, making all other playthings look as analog as Lincoln Logs. Which is where we stand—or rather, sit—today, blinking into the PlayStation game on the plasma TV. Even so, this December you might stuff a stocking with Strat-O-Matic baseball or Mattel hand-held football or Trac Ball, which was jai alai for the family without its own fronton.
And pass a moment in quiet gratitude for Reyn Guyer, the Edison of the rec room, inventor of both Twister and the polyurethane wonderstuff known as Nerf. More than anyone, Guyer brought the stadium into the basement, allowing children everywhere the anarchic pleasure of playing ball in the house. With no possibility of putting an eye out.