The beauty of bizarre game combinations, from chess-boxing to outhouse-racing.

A beautiful collection of photos from Sol Neeman, via The New York Times, shows off what I love and what’s wonderful about games. Neeman’s series focuses on “weird sports” throughout the world. From outhouse racing to downhill ice skating, the games have varying intensities and audiences but all of them embody the human desire to play in new and joyous ways.

Games are a beautifully flexible medium. Part of this flexibility is the ability to combine with other games or just to add other elements in and form an entirely new experience. Racing cars is fun, but what does it become when you add the obstacle of having to carry a pig while you’re racing? 

I’ve never been very good at sports. I’m decent with eSports since they are less about physical competence than reactions and strategy. What is it that makes these sports versus just play? In that question lies the sublimity of their combinations. One every face, in every picture, is a look of discovery, of a new approach that reignites childlike wonder. Whatever they are, these games combine the sincerity of harsh competition with the whimsy of the absurd, a lightheartedness that encourages all of us to come out and play.