Select language:

Russian Folk Games

 / Главная / Russkiy Mir Foundation / Publications / Russian Folk Games

Russian Folk Games


It would seem that we have thought up all the possible “venues” for communicating with our fellow countrymen abroad Russian theatres, museums, churches, libraries and foundations. But there are places and events that unite the youth abroad even more tightly than these. One example is Encounter, an international network of urban games.

The idea for the game originated in 2001 in Minsk, when Ivan Maslyukov (known as im in the project) envisioned it as an international game, hence its name in English. In the end, however, the game found a rather curious niche, enjoying real popularity in very different countries, but only among Russian-speaking youth. The game currently unites cities in Belarus, Georgia, Israel, Kazakhstan, China, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Ukraine, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Austria, France, the United States, and, of course, Russia.

Encounter is a team-oriented game with rather complex rules that unite different game formats into one. The most popular format is Combat, where the team is divided into a coordination center and field players, consisting of one or several squads. The coordination center receives tasks from the website and relays it to the field players. The squads must accomplish these tasks in the real world, although many of these tasks are quite experimental.

Apart from the extreme type, there is also the PhotoHunt format. As the name suggests, the object of the game is to hunt for good pictures to take. This is a competition based on creativity, where fantasy and imagination score highly, and time is not taken into consideration. Participants receive several tasks, usually around 7-10. For each task, the objective is comprised of a phrase or word, which they must use as a guideline for taking a picture. Even though the main objective of the game is creative ideas, the quality of the pictures is also important.

For those who enjoy thinking, there is also the Brainstorming format. This is the only game in which tasks are accomplished in front of a computer without needing to leave home. The game resembles another game – What? Where? When? – in its multi-user variant. With teams from different cities and countries playing, it is difficult to imagine where it hasn’t been played.

More information about the game’s rules can be found at the portal (

At first glance, the game doesn’t contain anything specifically Russian or Slavic. It is oriented toward a completely cosmopolitan world of extreme sports, as well as computer and urban games. This area of youth entertainment is decidedly Anglicized. The appearance of terms or lessons coming from another linguistic and cultural medium – like the French parkour – have unconditional exceptions. When discussing the niche occupied by Encounter, many talk about both the Russian world in general and the needs of its young people.

In many countries, where there is a large number of Russian-speaking youth, participation in the game has satisfied an additional demand – conversation among contemporaries who share a common culture and mentality.
I can confirm this a great through personal experience. Last summer, while I was in New York, I decided to play the local Encounter. And thanks to this game, I found friends among young Russian-speaking immigrants who helped me get accustomed to the United States.

In foreign domains one has the possibility of choosing the language. As a rule, participants speak in Russian, but they also speak in the language of the country they are in. On the Paris domain, for example they speak in French. On the Prague domain, they speak Russian. On the New York domain, they speak a mix of Russian and English. But all, or nearly all the participants come from Russian families or are themselves Russians.

The game has not only joined ideas, it has also turned people into friends. Their conversations have long gone beyond the boundaries of Encounter, with participants sharing their problems with one another, helping others to find needed medicines, change jobs or find an apartment. Many meet their destiny through the game!

Encounter is currently included in the Confederation of National and Non-Olympic Russian Sports, as well as the Orienteering Federation of Russia.

This is a young person’s game. Whereas traditional forms of uniting people run up against official barriers or simply stop fulfilling their role, nonstandard solutions come to the rescue here. In this sense, the example of Encounter is also a good means of reflection.


New publications

Igor Egorov is an ordinary school teacher from the Science Town of Pushchino near Moscow. For many years he has been spending his holidays traveling around Europe, where he searches for the graves of Russian white emigrants and for information about forgotten figures of Russian emigre communities. Anush, his wife and faithful assistant, is always by his side. The teacher actively engages his students in the search.
How do you rise to fame and become a popular blogger with 300,000 subscribers when you are a bit over 70? Arno Pavel, an Estonian pensioner, has found his recipe for success. At 72, he drove his UAZ from Tallinn to Vladivostok and back. Impressions from such a trip would have been enough for any person for a lifetime. But Arno did not stop there: over the past three years he has visited Petrozavodsk, Arkhangelsk, Syktyvkar, Orenburg, Astrakhan, Elista, Grozny and even the Kola Peninsula. He also wrote a book about his trips to Russia and plans to write another one.
This year marks the 130th anniversary of the birth of Vladimir Zworykin, a famous Russian inventor and the pioneer of television technology. His name was unknown for a long time in Russia. Meanwhile, in the United States, where the inventor lived most of his life, at some point he was under supervision, as the FBI suspected him to be a Russian spy.
The Russian village of Aleksandrovka, an amazing corner of Russian history, has been preserved in one of the districts of Potsdam. The Alexander Nevsky Memorial Church, the oldest surviving Orthodox church in Germany, is located on a mountain nearby. The history behind this village is, first of all, the story of friendship between two royal persons - Frederick William III of Prussia and Alexander I of Russia. Andrei Chernodarov, a historian and cultural expert, told the Russkiy Mir on how this unusual monument came to existence and how it has been preserved.
William Brumfield, a researcher of Russian architecture and Professor of the Tulane University (New Orleans), has travelled thousands of kilometers along passable and impassable roads of the Russian North. Architecture at the End of the Earth, his book published in the USA in 2015, became quite an event in the scientific community. Russian edition of Towards the White Sea has been published this year.
International Puppet Theatre Festival “Ryazanskie Smotriny” (Showing-off in Ryazan), one of the largest and the most reputable festivals in Russia and whole Eastern Europe, will open in Sergei Yesenin’s home land on September 14th. Current “show” marks a milestone, not by its number, but by years: the Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary, and Petrushka, its symbol, shines out of posters like never before. According to the puppet masters, during years of the festival’s existence the genre of puppet show has experienced absolute slump and unbelievable upswing. And it is still on the rise.
The Shtandart, a historical frigate built based on drawings designed 300 years ago, celebrated its 20th anniversary. It is the replica of the first naval frigate built by Peter the Great in Baltics in 1703. The replica frigate was put afloat with all the honors and celebrations in September 1999. The ceremony was held on Orlovskaya embankment, St. Petersburg, in presence of more than 40 thousand people. Over the 20-year period the Shtandart has traveled 167 thousand nautical miles, visited 127 ports in 17 countries; it has been featured in a dozen films and dressed up in scarlet sails for the famous Alumni Festival held in St. Petersburg.
Vladimir Menshov, the maker of such iconic movies as Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears and Love and Dove, turns 80 on September 17. His life is an example of a remarkably successful creative and personal destiny. It's no coincidence that this year 900 people attempted to win admission to his workshop at the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography (aka VGIK), while enrolment is set to 30. Menshov is known as a very principled person; and he teaches his students the same thing - only a powerful person can create a truly serious film.