This American Life: #566: The Land of Make Believe
September 15, 2015 1:15 PM - Subscribe

A father constructs an elaborate fantasy to occupy his 12 children, and a woman finds herself sucked into a world of make believe that we almost never get to see inside.
posted by Gin and Broadband (8 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
There is a part of me that really wants to build that boat.

More than that, I'd be really interested in hearing more in depth from the kids about their different experiences growing up with the ship. That one little crack in the armor where the woman admits that it wasn't always fun was just so fascinating to me. It all seems so Lord of the Flies in some ways.
posted by stoneweaver at 4:07 PM on September 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was fascinated by the boat, and how decidedly unfun it sounded? Like it was an actual job with rules and once you had a rank that's just what you were (e.g. no taking turns being captain). That sounds superficially terrible, but I guess it was fun somehow. Not unbelievable, kids are weird, but so breaking with the no rules free for all that was my play as a kid that I just can't process.

I feel like I've heard the second story before, but I can't put my finger on where. It was just so familiar.
posted by selenized at 9:10 PM on September 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Like it was an actual job with rules

Thinking about it, isn't this what so much of gameplay in World of Warcraft et al is? I'm not much of a gamer, but I did used to get sucked into long sessions of Civilisation which was basically just rote drudgery. It was hypnotic, and the lack of "fun" in the play is somehow calming.
posted by Gin and Broadband at 12:27 PM on September 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I thought it was really interesting how many of the kids ended up in the military after growing up in that environment.
posted by sparklemotion at 2:22 PM on September 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I thought it was really interesting how many of the kids ended up in the military after growing up in that environment.

I was thinking about that, and why that might be. One of the kids mentioned that joining the military wasn't so much of an adjustment for him as it was for his peers because he had basically grown up in it. So I suppose it could be as simple as the reason why many kids of military members join the military, when you are steeped in military culture as a child joining the military becomes part of family tradition.

But I also wonder if maybe growing up with such a structured play environment left them wanting a very structured environment as adults, that the structure the military provides is a comforting alternative to the unknown world of not being on a boat? For example, I feel like many people I went to college with went not because they necessarily wanted to be in college as much as they didn't want to leave school and the comfort of being in a structured, rule bound, system that they understood, and the world outside was scary and unknown.
posted by selenized at 8:01 AM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was a little puzzled by the thing about them hauling the boat into the street and doing wargames with a mini submarine. Did they build a sub and some of the kids went and served as the crew for that? That seemed like something that could have used some elaboration.

It is weird how it simultaneously makes me feel sorry for and envious of these kids. It sounds like the best make believe ever, but make believe taken to the point of actual shipboard drudgery. The part where the one daughter wanted out but she got "re-deployed" seemed kind of creepy to me. Funny, but creepy. She wanted to stop pretending, and her dad wouldn't let her. This story could have been one of those Wolfpack-esque things about a family that's so insular that the kids are left struggling to find a place in the real world, but fortunately they all seem to have turned out fine.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:31 PM on September 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm waiting for the inevitable movie version of the ship story. All by itself, it's very Wes Anderson.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:15 PM on September 24, 2015


Thinking about it, isn't this what so much of gameplay in World of Warcraft et al is? I'm not much of a gamer, but I did used to get sucked into long sessions of Civilisation which was basically just rote drudgery. It was hypnotic, and the lack of "fun" in the play is somehow calming.

I'd say for most games where the actual things you're doing isn't fun you get fun in Skinner box form, you see yourself get more powerful, you get bigger and better items. The real poster child for games that are actually work is Eve Online.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:28 PM on November 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


« Older Podcast: The Allusionist: 18. ...   |  Continuum: Lost Hours... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments