This Will Get You Wet
Bruce Baskir
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Missouri
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This lists isn't about games, so much as it is about Geekiness. I attended the California Institute of Technology as an undergraduate during the late '70s and encountered a curious practice there called "showering". My brother, who attended MIT, says that showering is also performed there, as I imagine it is at other technical and engineering schools.

I'm not talking about bathing, or lavaging oneself, or otherwise practicing daily hygeine that game players are sometimes accused of overlooking. Students attending Caltech are very much aware that their social skills are a bit sub-par, and are hyper-acutely aware that the same can be said about their classmates. Hence, as a form of social education, is the ritual of showering. Showering consists of overpowering a student who has just committed a social blunder, picking him (or occasionally her) up and physically throwing him into a shower of running water. For extreme cases, there is an even higher ritual called "ponding".

Showering is usually very civilized, and has set rules. The victim is allowed to remove glasses, wallet, any papers or other devices that may be in the pockets and react badly with water. On pre-set signal, the showerers will then grab the offendee, usually one applying a full nelson while another applies a squeeze hold around the waist, and anyone else involved grabs whatever appendages they can. A measure of your studliness is the number of other students it takes to shower you. If you can be two-manned, you'd best send off for that Charles Atlas course.
Three- or four-manning is the norm, and anyone requiring five or more is a force to be contended with.

As one who was educated in this manner many times (especially in my freshman year,) I thought I would write to inform any high school reader of this site what faux pas they should avoid so as not to receive involuntary wetness once they enter college.
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1. Board Game: Dungeons & Dragons Basic Game [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:2202]
Bruce Baskir
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Back in the '70s, when Gygax had just published his original three volume set, playing Dungeons and Dragons was considered the epitome of Geekiness. (It was also the reason that there were a lot of five-year seniors, but that's another story.) Most of the D & D playing was done quietly in the week-ends at the Winnett student center, and some of the houses (dorms) tolerated it, but if you, like me, were a member of Page House, the mere mention of the words "hit dice" and "saving throw" were likely to give you a ticket to the shower.
 
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2. Board Game: Napoleon at Waterloo [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:3341]
Bruce Baskir
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Back then, there weren't many boardgames. Most of the ones that did exist were hex and counter wargames. Sure, there was the occasional 3M Bookshelf game (like Acquire,) but when you talked about being a gamer, chances were that you grognard. And although other students would happily play poker, bridge, hearts, and the occasional game of Risk (very occasional,) they didn't look to kindly on the wargamers. Curiously enough, one time I saw two of my classmates get showered for playing some SPI game in the house library, but the game itself was left unmolested. As I said, there are rules.
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3. Board Game: Chez Greek [Average Rating:5.98 Overall Rank:5335]
Bruce Baskir
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"When you come to Caltech, they cut off your balls. You get the first one back when you pass AMA 95 [Complex Analysis - a Junior level math course] and the other is stapled to your diploma."

Naturally, being eunuchs, freshmen don't get a lot of respect. In some houses, it is traditional that all freshmen get "showered into the house" as a form of welcome. After that, you can be showered for failing to answer the phone or not muting the television during commercials (tradional frosh roles) or for general surliness. During Freshman Initiation Week, the freshmen get hazed until they manage to shower the sophomore "Initiation Chairman" (which in the case of my class took about a month - we were a bunch of sad sacks.) Since the sophomores routinely protect the Initiation Chairman, an unsuccessful showering attempt usually results in a few wet freshmen.
 
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4. Board Game: The Challenge [Average Rating:5.83 Overall Rank:11413]
Bruce Baskir
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Sometimes one of the alleys (hallways) will challenge the other to some sort of contest. In the past we've had "Alley Mattress Push" and the "Greased Frosh" contest. Usually the challenge is made during announcements at dinnertime, and in a most insulting manner. Following a challenge, members of one alley, to maintain their honor, will attempt to shower members of the other.

Page and Fleming houses had an intense sports rivalry, so sometimes challenges were made across the Olive Walk, followed by a free-for-all water fight/shower war. Sometimes the Funnelator (a water balloon launching device involving a funnel and some surgical tubing) was used for long distance bombardments.
 
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5. Board Game: Empire [Average Rating:5.81 Unranked]
Bruce Baskir
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Being a Computer Science major, by itself, was almost enough to guarantee regular showering. The computer geeks could usually be spotted by their plaid clothing, and their complaints about not getting enough on-line time. Remember, this was back in the days of batch processing, and I still have punch cards with some of my CS homework on them. Timesharing was a bit of a novelty, but of course computer games were available even back then. All the games were text only, and some of the more popular ones included "Wumpus" and "Advent". Walter Bright, the inventor of "Empire" was in the class ahead of mine, and he had already loaded a version into the Timeshare system. Many a student wasted a lot of time (after midnight of course, when the traffic was less) on that game, insuring another crop of five-year students.

There is time and place for everything. Talking about computer systems in the basement of Jorgenson (the computer science center) was OK. Talking about computer systems in the dining room would probably get you wet.
 
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6. Board Game: Smath [Average Rating:4.18 Overall Rank:14735]
Bruce Baskir
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Talking about your math or physics homework in the dining room would probably get you wet, also. As for Thermo or P Chem: Hey! Get a room!
 
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7. Board Game: Don't Tip the Waiter [Average Rating:4.92 Unranked]
Bruce Baskir
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The meal plan at Caltech included ten meals a week. Lunch during the week was cafeteria style all-you-can-eat, but but the dinners were waited. At most houses, almost anyone could be a waiter, and would get paid for their trouble, but at Page House the waiting staff was largely made up of members of the wrestling team and the swim team. You had to be specially chosen to be a member of the waiting staff, and there was a week-long initiation period during which you had to prove your worthiness.

Needless to say, insulting the waiting staff was an art form. Someone would stand up during announcements and say something like:
"I've seen some in-bred, nose-picking, mouth-breathing excuses for a waiting staff in my time; I've seen some scuzzy, bottom of the barrel scrapings before, but this must be the wimpiest waiting staff I have ever seen." At which time, to the great amusement of the other students, the announcer would be carried out of the room on his or her chair, allowed to remove his or her keys, glasses, etc, and be politely, but firmly showed the way to the nearest shower. Any juxtaposition of the words "wimpy" and "waiter" was usually sufficient to trigger this reaction. My favorite announcement was:

"What is a waiter? A waiter is someone who waits. Now a wait may be a long wait, or a short wait. A short wait is brief, and many people wear briefs. If you wear briefs that are too small for you, they may make you Pop-eyed. Everyone's favorite Pop-eye character is Wimpy..." The applause was deafening.
 
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8. Board Game: Heroscape Master Set: Rise of the Valkyrie [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:269] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
Bruce Baskir
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In order that students not oversleep their finals, it was a tradition that at 7:00am every morning during finals week that everyone with a sound system blast out Wagner's "The Ride of the Valkyries." Known simply as "The Ride", this piece of music was enough to cause any Caltech student's pulse and blood pressure to rise in a form of Pavlovian conditioning. Many a stereo speaker has been sacrificed to The Ride, and if the windows in the house didn't rattle, it means you weren't doing your job.

By the same token, playing The Ride at any time other than finals week was a showerable offense. Multiple infractions would result in a justifiable ponding.
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9. Board Game: Monopoly [Average Rating:4.39 Overall Rank:15339]
Bruce Baskir
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Ricketts House observed a curious holiday called "Polish Constitution Day". On the evening of Polish Constitution Day it was traditional for the members of Ricketts house, nicknamed "Scurvs" (yes, I know, rickets and scurvy are different vitamin deficiencies) to get drunk and run through the other houses, one at a time, after singing scurrilous and bawdy songs. Some of the other houses didn't mind (Lloyd House even decorated for them), but Page and Fleming house would try to shower as many Scurvs as they could. As a social member of Ricketts house, I participated, but as a member of Page house, I almost felt obligated to shower myself. The night ended up in front of the apartment occupied by the master of student housing. At about one o'clock in the morning, dozens of drunken Scurvs started serenading his window.
He came out onto the balcony in his pajamas. "Is it Polish Constitution Day?" he asked, blinking owlishly at the dozens of noisy student below. "Well, then, Happy Polish Constitution Day." The crowd went wild.

To this day, I don't know if Polish Consitution Day really exists.
 
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