The Floor Is...
May 6, 2020 11:34 AM   Subscribe

Game designer Holly Gramazio ran a survey to find out what floors were made of.
posted by curious nu (34 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
I went out for a walk with my kids on the weekend and they were playing a game that the lines in the sidewalk were lasers, as was the grass. I told them when I was a kid my game was that driveways were volcanoes that would erupt if a car passed by while I was crossing one. We tried it, but were on a main road with way too many cars and were waiting too long to cross, so I had to tell them it worked better on less busy streets. We forgot all about it by the time we made it to a quieter street.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:46 AM on May 6


I like that in countries other than the US, 14% of respondents reported that they had to stay off the floor "for no particular reason."

The floor is arbitrarily prohibited! The floor is arbitrarily prohibited!
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:55 AM on May 6 [23 favorites]


The floor is a mass of incadescent gas,
A gigantic nuclear furnace,
Where hydrogen is built into helium,
At a temperature of millions of degrees.

posted by Foosnark at 11:56 AM on May 6 [11 favorites]


If your floor is anything but lava you're a cop.
posted by bondcliff at 11:59 AM on May 6 [7 favorites]


The floor is a cop
posted by oulipian at 12:15 PM on May 6 [19 favorites]


Broken dreams of the less fortunate.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:19 PM on May 6


Filthy. No, really. I have to sweep and mop.
posted by Splunge at 12:21 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]


The floor is arbitrarily prohibited! The floor is arbitrarily prohibited!

There is definitely a sociology thesis in there somewhere.
posted by mhoye at 1:04 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


"Shark-infested custard" though, that one's gonna stick with me.
posted by mhoye at 1:05 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


Combine this with the post just underneath:

“The floor is made of dicks.”
posted by Fizz at 1:05 PM on May 6


The inclusion of "game designer" made me think this was going to be akin to this info about how trains in Fallout 3 were actually NPCs wearing train hats and running at high speed. I.e., what weird workaround did your game dev team use to create the floor?
posted by sunset in snow country at 1:33 PM on May 6 [10 favorites]


This was a great article! Way more in-depth than I expected.
posted by clawsoon at 1:37 PM on May 6


Mefi's own severalbees!
posted by adrianhon at 1:37 PM on May 6 [6 favorites]


So when you play by yourself you make up whatever floor you'd like. When you play with others, though, lava is the shared scary floor idea. I wonder if that's because lava has some intrinsic advantage - lots of kids had at least some fear of lava before they started - or if its dominance is effectively random, the result of a founder effect, locked into place by the popularity of some book or movie or a giant chain of one-popular-kid-to-another.
posted by clawsoon at 1:45 PM on May 6 [4 favorites]


I remember it as being lava from when we played it in the early 70s, though I suppose it is possible that later culture repetition could have overwritten fire in my memory, it was definitely hot and lethal. Given who I was playing with I think I would have been only 5 or 6, so now I'm curious where I would have picked up lava. Maybe from slightly older kids? Or some PBS nature show?
posted by tavella at 1:54 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


The floor is Grey Ducks.

I'm surprised electricity, fire and death are so low on the list. I wonder if the water related instances going down has anything to do with water being less deadly because of drinking water quality, learning to swim, better water safety equipment? Maybe my floor is overthinking.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 2:05 PM on May 6


The floor is a plate of beans.
posted by mhoye at 2:06 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]


I am not a fonts guy but something is happening with the lowercase Rs on that page that are making me want to stab things. Just me?

The floor is made of r.
posted by phunniemee at 2:28 PM on May 6


The floor is made of r.

Chivo Regular, if I'm reading the style information correctly?
posted by clawsoon at 2:47 PM on May 6


I had never heard of "the floor is lava" until the Simpsons episode in 2004.

We did not play any variation of don't-touch-the-floor in my childhood; our furniture and play options just didn't run that direction. When I thought about it, the first idea I came up with was "the floor is poison."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:54 PM on May 6


So when you play by yourself you make up whatever floor you'd like. When you play with others, though, lava is the shared scary floor idea.

Never thought about this question before & it's super interesting! I only ever played this game by myself & the floor was made of "undefined failstate trigger."
posted by taquito sunrise at 3:09 PM on May 6


What an interesting survey and essay! I like the conclusion that "the floor is"-type imaginative play ends up being a sort of creative amalgamation of the affordances of the play environment with the cultural ingredients that children find on offer.

I'm a bit hazy but I think I mostly played this by myself, and the floor was usually a bottomless pit a la Mario. I have slightly clearer memories of the floor tile pattern at my local mall, when lent itself well to certain tiles being safe platforms or pillars, while the rest were bottomless pit.
posted by biogeo at 3:21 PM on May 6


I remember sitting on the beige carpet of my bedroom and imagining the quicksand as it crept up slowly over my legs, and then up my body, around my waist and higher and higher while I grabbed on hard to the leg of my bed so I could haul myself out at the last minute.

That's an oddly-specific memory for me to have in common with someone else...
posted by Jpfed at 3:30 PM on May 6


It was definitely lava for my family in the eighties - no idea where we got it.
posted by aspersioncast at 3:33 PM on May 6


Theory: Countries that are proximate to volcanoes are less likely to play "the floor is lava" because in, e.g., Iceland the floor literally is lava.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:56 PM on May 6


That's an oddly-specific memory for me to have in common with someone else...

There was a period there in the mid eighties when the quicksand marketing department was putting in a lot of overtime. It was pretty strange in retrospect, but it’s up there with “welding something to a truck and driving it through a wall” on my list of things I thought I’d spend a lot more of my adulthood dealing with.
posted by mhoye at 5:11 PM on May 6 [6 favorites]


Amazing article! Thanks for posting. :-)

Dibs on Jorden er Giftig as a username.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 7:01 PM on May 6


Theory: Countries that are proximate to volcanoes are less likely to play "the floor is lava" because in, e.g., Iceland the floor literally is lava.

Because lava is so common, they take it for granite.
posted by zamboni at 8:03 PM on May 6 [4 favorites]


There was a period there in the mid eighties when the quicksand marketing department was putting in a lot of overtime.

There was a brief period in the late 70s, after Jaws, when the game switched from "the floor is lava" to "the floor is water and one kid is a shark" that I remember playing with my friends. There is certainly something about the cultural zeitgeist at play.
posted by nubs at 9:04 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


Also home decor trends. Anyone exposed to a finished basement with burnt-orange shag carpet can tell you exactly why the floor was lava.
(or that stuff where blobs of pattern / texture were created by shaving narrow lines into standard pile. If the carpet was blue, those became chunks of ice in the frozen river)
posted by bartleby at 10:54 PM on May 6


I played the variation with floor tiles more often (don't step on the white ones!). Probably because I had plenty of other games to play at home, but this one works best while at Walmart or wherever else.
posted by Glier's Goetta at 1:20 AM on May 7


Oh, how nice to see this here! Very circular: there was an old ask metafilter question that came up when I started trying to research this that helped inform the contents of the survey.

Jpfed: although quicksand's always been a minority pick, I wonder whether kids who get into it are more likely to really get into it - like, the specifics of it being a thing you can escape from following a specific methodology maybe makes it particularly compelling to imagine step-by-step? Either that, or we can blame the very specific beige of 1980s carpets.
posted by severalbees at 5:11 AM on May 7 [3 favorites]


The Floor Is Jelly.
posted by adept256 at 8:18 AM on May 7


Ivan Brett's The Floor is Lava
posted by Hogshead at 2:25 PM on May 7


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