Mitch’s Monday Happy Hour – March 16

Happy Monday everyone! Oh wait a second . . . . . . . . it’s Thursday.  Yikes!!!!!  I’m sure most of you are struggling through your week at work, as you have anxiously been waiting for our weekly Happy Hour post this week.  To you . . . . . I apologize.  Updating a blog can be a daunting task sometimes.  Even though we write short posts that only take about 2 minutes to read through, sometimes it takes over an hour to type up.  Finding free time to blog can be tricky, however we are going to try and keep posting 3 times a week (fingers crossed)!

We ended our week of work last Thursday as we usually do . . . .  with friends, on a patio, having dinner!  This week we decided on a place called Attila Mongolian Grill located on the coast, with amazing views of the sea.  The restaurant is a part of a new complex of over 25 restaurants called Miral.  It was a super nice place with so many different options to choose from.  We had a super good meal and will definitely be back again.




When we returned from our trip to Egypt a couple of weeks ago, we got home super late the night before work.  We basically tossed our luggage on the floor, went to bed, then straight to work the next morning.  Our maid Lily came the next day and went completely above-and-beyond her duties . . . . . and emptied our bags for us!  Not only did she unpack our bags, but she washed all of our dirty clothes and even put them away for us.  We got home from work that day, still exhausted, and knew we had a big task ahead of us to put all of our crap away.  We were so surprised to come home to a spotless apartment.  We knew we wanted to “thank her” for her hard work, so we left her a little bonus money last week.  She left us this cute little ‘thank you’ note that ended with, “me so happy!”  It made us feel good, that we gave her such a small amount of money, but that she was so happy with it.


I was driving through a neighborhood the other day, when a certain vehicle caught my eye.  I did a double take . . . . . and notice a University of Minnesota Gophers sticker in the back window.  For a moment, it made me feel like we were back home in Minnesota, then I chuckled that there was another Gophers fan in Kuwait.  Ironically, I’m watching the Gophers hockey game against Ohio State University as I type this 🙂


The Gophers sticker wasn’t the only Minnesota connection I experienced this week.  We we were walking around downtown Kuwait City when I noticed an Arabic guy wearing a Jason Kubel Minnesota Twins jersey!  I chuckled to myself, and wondered if he even knew who the Twins were or who Jason Kubel was.  I wanted to try and get a picture with him, but unfortunately it just didn’t work out.

Last weekend we also went out and supported our school’s varsity basketball teams at their conference tournament.  They had a great weekend, but unfortunately lost in the semifinals to one of our rivals.  Teams from all over the Middle East participated including, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait.  While the players and spectators were from all over the world, it definitely felt like we were back in the States at a typical high school basketball tournament.  We had a ton of fun!

A group of 7 of us went to one of the games together last Friday.  In the car on the way to the game, I mentioned that I hoped that they had a concession stand there.  Everyone thought I was crazy, when I said that I was craving a “Taco in a Bag.”  (or also known as a “Walking Taco.”  Half of our friends hadn’t even heard of one before, so I had to explain how freaking delicious they were.  If you’ve never heard of one either, here’s what it is:

  • Start with a small bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos.  You smash them up into bite size pieces, then open the bag.
  • Next you add whatever ingredients you would like.  I typical add, taco meat, lettuce, cheese, sour cream, olives, and salsa.

Even I knew that it was a long shot of a request, but I’ve been craving them lately so I was keeping my fingers crossed.

Between games I found my way to the concession stand that was being operated as a fundraiser by the host school’s National Honor Society.  I almost crapped my pants when I noticed the last item on the menu board . . . . . Taco in a Bag!!!! It was fucking delicious and just what I needed to satisfy my craving!


The inside view of my Taco in a Bag:


Well folks, that’s all for now.  We hope to see you next Monday for our weekly happy hour, or maybe Thursday again 😉

7th annual Kuwait National Baseball Tournament

Last weekend, I was luckily enough to be selected to umpire in the 7th annual Kuwait National Baseball Tournament hosted by the Kuwait Little League.  I umpired 7 games during the tournament, and had an absolute blast!  Teams from all over the Middle East participated, including the countries of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates.  It was a busy few days, but it was a ton of fun and a well organized event, with some outstanding teams participating!


One of my favorite parts of the weekend was the atmosphere!  The fans had so much energy, for the entire weekend!  They were chanting, clapping, singing, and even playing bongo drums.  The atmosphere felt more like a World Cup Soccer game than a youth baseball game, but it was so much fun.  They were cheering so loud, that I could hardly hear myself calling balls & strikes behind the plate sometimes.  At one point, between innings, I asked the catcher, “Isn’t this awesome?!”  By the look in his eyes I could tell he was so jacked up, and he answered with an enthusiastic, “I LOVE THIS!”  The atmosphere was like nothing that I have ever seen at a baseball game before, it was so awesome!


Everyone who participated in the tournament was super friendly.  It was fun to meet people from all over the world and share our experiences from living abroad together.  A majority of the participants were expats from the U.S.A. or Canada, who are currently working in the Middle East in the oil industry, as teachers, etc.

This tournament concluded the Little League season here, which started last September.  I thought my season was going to be over too, however I was invited to umpire in a regional baseball tournament in Dubai next month!  One of the tournament organizers was in town for the Kuwait Tournament, approached me after one of my games, and extended an invitation to me. I’m super excited about the opportunity to participate!  (and I get an all expenses paid trip!)  Apparently teams from all over the world (including the U.S.A and Australia) will be playing in the Dubai tournament.


I’m a little bummed out that the Little League season is over.  I can’t express enough how much I enjoyed my time this winter with everyone.  I made some great friends and memories, that I will always cherish.  Regular season games are played weekly on Fridays here, so it became a part of my weekly routine to see everyone at the ballpark.  I was able to umpire a lot of great youth baseball games, some adult softball games, a few girls softball games, and even a couple of championship games this season!  I’m already looking forward to next season!


My 1st Round of Golf at Sahara Golf Resort

Last summer before we moved to Kuwait, we had the daunting task of deciding what we were going to bring with us.  One of the most important things to me, was my golf clubs!  I knew we were going to have a ton of free time here, so I thought it would be a great time to perfect my golf game.  I figured I could golf here all winter, then when I returned to Minnesota in the summer, my golf game would be so awesome that I could beat all of my buddies!

Last September I checked out the best course in Kuwait, called Sahara Golf Resort.  It was absolutely beautiful, and without a doubt, the nicest and fanciest golf course I’ve ever seen!  The membership prices were ridiculous, but the course is open to the public, so I decided to just pay the green fee when I was able to get a round in.  At that time, it was sooooo hot outside, that I decided to wait until winter for it to cool down a bit.

A couple of weeks ago we had a day off during the week, so a friend and I decided to go try out the course for the first time.  If you golf during the week, it is 35 KD ($120 USD) but if you go on the weekends it is 50 KD ($170 USD).  The fee was for 18 holes, a golf cart, and unlimited use of their practice facilities.  We made the most of our day and went early, so we could hit enough balls, to shake off the rust that has accumulated over the last few months.


The 18th green, with the Clubhouse in the background.


The course was absolutely incredible!  The facilities seemed brand new, the service was great, and when you were on the course, it hardly seemed like you were even in Kuwait!  The only downside to the course that day, was how brown the grass was.  Apparently whatever kind of grass they use, goes dormant during the winter months.  The Golf Pro there said that by the end of March, the grass will be back to the lush green grass I saw when I was there in September.



The cool thing about this course, is that the entire thing is covered in lights!  Since it can get so hot here during the summer months, nobody wants to be outside golfing.  Therefore they installed stadium lights on every single hole, so you can go golfing at 10pm if you wanted to!  Also, about 8 holes of the golf course are located within the infield of the local horse racing track.  During our round of golf, I heard a thump, thump, thump, thump, and looked up to see a couple of horses taking some practice laps.  The horses were huge!


If you look closely in the middle of the picture, in the background, you can see one of the race horses practicing.


We enjoyed a great day out and a fun round of golf.  I did notice that my golf game is substantially better in Kuwait rather than Minnnesota.  I think it’s because there isn’t booze here to throw my game off!  It is pretty expensive to golf at this course every weekend, but I’m hopeful to get a few more rounds in before we leave in June for the summer.  Once it starts heating up here, I’m definitely going back to try a round of golf under the lights!  For more info on the Sahara Golf Resort, you can visit their website HERE.


Check out all of the stadium lights surrounding the hole!



Bowling Night with Friends

When we moved into our apartment here in Kuwait last August, we were excited that there was a bowling alley just down the street.  However we’ve been here for 6 months now, and still haven’t been there!  So the other night, when a few of us were just lounging around and looking for something to do, I announced, “let’s go bowling!”  There was 8 of us, who made the stroll down the street, for a fun night out.


It was all smiles, until the game started.

We decided to split the group into two teams: The Oldies vs. The Youngsters.  I was on the “old” (I prefer more mature and wiser) team and Rachel was on The Youngsters.  We decided that the losing team had to buy the winning team a schwarma from our favorite food stand.  The match was on!


Ethan with his famous “double fist pump” after a STRIKE!

The competition was fierce!  All friendships and relationships were tossed out the window.  After all, a free schwarma was on the line!


Adam was super focused, and led the Oldies to 2 victories!

I’m proud to announce that The Oldies won!  We decided to play a second game, and this time a cheese fatayer was on the line.


Group Shot

And . . . .  The Oldies won that game too!  We haven’t cashed in our winnings yet, but we will soon.  It is kind of a bummer that Rachel and I were on separate teams though, because basically I’m buying my own schwarma and cheese fatayer.  I guess I get bragging rights though!


Of course the best part about bowling is the awesome shoes!

It was a spontaneous night out, and we had a ton of fun.  We shared a bunch of laughs and enjoyed some friendly competition.  Sometimes it seems like the best nights out, are the ones that are unplanned.  We love nights like these!


Golfing at the Sand Course

A few weeks ago, I was talking to a guy who was telling me about a sand golf course here in Kuwait.  I had never heard of a sand course before, but it was described to me as, “a golf course without grass.”  Say what!?!?!?!?!  He went on to tell me that they give you a little piece of grass that you carry around with you.  Before each swing, you put your ball on your chunk of grass, and swing away.


Here is what the tee box looked like at each hole.  They each had a little black rubber mat, that you could jam a golf tee into to set up your shot.  It was super weird hitting on an elevated platform, where your shoes would stick to the mat, and you were constantly worried that if you duffed your shot, you would snap your driver in half!


Here’s my buddy Adam teeing off at one of the holes.


Here is Adam with a shot in the middle of the fairway, no it’s not a sand trap!  You can see the little chunk of grass that we used to hit the ball.


At this course, you definitely wanted to play down the middle of the fairway.  The “rough” was like nothing I’ve ever seen before.  I was constantly looking for snakes, scorpions, and whatever else lived in there!


Another shot of the rough.


Here is a picture of Adam’s approach shot at one of the holes.  You will notice that the “green” is even sand.  The greens (or perhaps I should call them browns) were a bit more firm than the rest of the course.  It seems like they sprayed oil or something on them to keep them packed and somewhat smooth.


Trying to make a putt at this course was nearly impossible.  The greens were so bumpy, and you were hitting through sand and rocks.


You can get a good luck at the greens in this picture.  Check out all of the footprints!  Apparently they go out every morning with a broom and sweep them, to try and smooth them out a bit.


I got pretty excited that I was this close to sinking a decent putt, based on the conditions, but of course . . . . . . I came up short!


Here is a view looking back towards the tee box at one of the holes.  Everything was so brown and dead!  At times, it seemed like we were on another planet, like Mars!


Here is one of the sand traps at the “sand” course!  They were so deep, that you could barely see the green if you were trying to hit out of them. The entire thing was coated in concrete too, so you had to be super careful, especially if you would skull one.  Next thing you know, you would end up taking one between the eyes.


I don’t know what the heck these things are, but they were all over the golf course.  They seemed like they were some sort of vent or something, from an old oil well.  They were making a slight humming sound.


This is my golf ball at the end of my round.  Before I started, it was brand new!  When your ball is skipping through the sand and bouncing off rocks, it endures quite the beating.  It was completely messed up!


Wow, what an experience we had!  It was a ton of fun and it will definitely make for some fun stories to tell our friends and families about next summer.  It was about $7 for 9 holes.  While it was fun to get out and hit some golf balls, I highly doubt I will be back here again.  It was a cool experience, but I would hardly call it “golf.”  It was more like a round of “desert ball!”

Mitch’s Monday Happy Hour – February 16

Hey everyone, welcome to this week’s Happy Hour!  Here’s what we have been up to . . . . . . . . .

We had a 3-day weekend this week, so I enjoyed a day out on a new golf course.  It is still under construction, and currently only 9 holes are open, but it has grass!  I went out by myself, and apparently they only have 4-person golf carts.  Driving the thing around the course was like driving a school bus around.  It was a decent course, and pretty close to our house.  It is located out in the desert, and I saw about 40-50 camels on the side of the road while I was driving there.  Then at one of the tee boxes I looked over, and noticed a bunch of camels at a farm.  It was yet another reminder that we live a pretty cool life!  I mean, how many other golf courses can you stare at camels from the tee box?????


The camels are located in the center of the picture, near that tan colored camper.


We found a new walking trail this week in the suburb of Jabriya.  We were so excited about this one, because it is lined with trees! (which are super hard to find here in the desert).  Every weekend, we have been going on walks in the different areas of Kuwait City.  We usually find a nice area along the beach to walk, but it was fun to find a different area this weekend.  There are not a lot of sidewalks or walking trails here, so unfortunately we always have to drive to find a nice place to walk.  The temps have been in the mid 70s lately, the weather has been absolutely perfect to be outside and enjoying whatever kind of nature we can find.


Here is a quick snapshot of the the Kuwait’s signature water towers.  I’m not sure if all of the Gulf Countries paint them like this, but you can find them on a lot of artwork, postcards, t-shirts, etc.  They are all over the city, and always in clusters of 9.  It is such a nice splash of color in an otherwise brown, and dusty country.  At night, they light up with a bright blue glow.


Kuwaiti Water Towers

On Friday night, a group of us went into downtown Kuwait City to view the light show on the Kuwait Towers.  They are located right on the Persian Gulf.  At the end of the month, Kuwaiti’s celebrate their independence and their liberation from Iraq during the Gulf War.  For the entire month of February, there are lots of parties, celebrations, and national pride displayed wherever you go.  The Kuwait Towers have a laser light show every night that is pretty sweet.  The Towers have been closed for renovations for a couple of years, but we have heard rumors that they are expected to reopen at the end of the month.  You can go inside them and view the entire the city, and there is also a restaurant in them.  We are excited to check them out when they open!


The picture on the left is of the Kuwaiti Amir and the picture on the right is the Kuwaiti flag.



There is a ton of Kuwaiti pride this month.

My 5th grade girls soccer team was supposed to have their first game last Thursday, however it got canceled due to a dust storm!  The girls were pretty bummed, but now we have two games scheduled this week.  Anytime the wind blows hard here (over around 20 mph) dust fills the air.  It doesn’t labor your breathing or anything, they just recommend not doing excessive physical exercise in it.  After a dust storm, it seems like it takes 4 or 5 days to fully clear the air.  I felt so bad for one of my players, because she wore her soccer uniform, new cleats, and shin guards the entire day at school!  From 6am until I told her the game was canceled at 1pm.  I don’t know how she could wear shin pads that long!!!

Strike 1 . . . Strike 2 . . . Strike 3 . . . You’re Out!


Since moving to Kuwait, it seems like we have so much more free time on our hands, to just relax, enjoy hobbies, hang with friends, etc.  We are no longer homeowners, who are constantly working on renovations, mowing the grass, or chipping away at the “Honey Do List.”  While I miss tinkering in my old garage, my free time here has allowed me to do some things in my life that I have always wanted to do, but couldn’t ever find the time.  One of those things, is umpiring Little League Baseball!

Before moving here, I read online about the Kuwait Little League.  I sent an email, and before I knew it, I was attending my first Umpire Clinic of the season.  The unique thing about the league over here, is that the season runs from September to March.  Baseball players are always known as the “Boys of Summers,” however since it is so hot here, they play their season during the (cooler) winter months.

The Kuwait Little League is just like any league you would find back in North America.  There is multiple age divisions ranging from T-Ball to Seniors Baseball.  This year I chose to umpire the Majors Division (ages 11-12).  I would estimate that about 60% of the players and coaches are expats from countries other than Kuwait (U.S. Canada, Australia, Venezuela, etc.)  Teams practice twice a week, with games on Fridays.

The Little League Complex here is gorgeous, and opened just a few years ago.  There are 4 fields for T-ball, Minors, Majors, and Seniors. There are lots of common areas, an office, playground, multiple batting cages, and 3 concession stands!  One of them sells your typical concession food (hotdogs, hamburgers, popcorn, candy, etc.), there is also a coffee shop, and the other is a Taco Bell!  Yes, after a long day of umpiring, you can grab a chalupa and some cinamon twists!

I have a ton of fun umpiring and have met some great people.  It is a very close knit community among the players, coaches, and umpires.  The thing I enjoy most is watching the kids develop their skills during the course of the season.  Back in September, there were a lot of walks and not much action in the games.  However the players have come a long way this season, just in time for the upcoming tournaments which begin in a few weeks.

This year we are sending a Majors All-Star team to a tournament in the Phillipines, Dubai, and they will also play in our national tournament here in Kuwait at the beginning of March.  I have already been asked to umpire in the tournaments, which I’m pretty excited about.  They typically pay for your flights, hotels, food, and compensate you for each game.  I’m hopeful that I can make them fit into my schedule, because I would love to go.

In addition to umpiring Little League Baseball, I also umpired some softball games for the adult league.  From September to December, Kuwait Little League offered an Adult Softball League, and we had 16 teams register.  It is a co-rec league, and I had a ton of fun.  I would usually do 4 games a night, and got to know a ton of people.  I’m hoping next year that I can join a team to play with too!

Kuwait Little League is a great organization to be a part of, and I’m so glad that I was able to get involved with them.  It has become a part of my weekly routine, every Friday I head to the ballpark.  A lot of our students also play in the league, so it is fun to see them playing a game that I enjoyed so much as a part of my childhood.

It’s a Big World Out There, But Yet Small Too

You often hear the phrase, “what a small world.”  Usually you hear it when you meet a friend-of-a-friend or a similar situation.  In all actuality, the world is HUGE!  There are so many cool places out there and so many interesting people to meet.  After just a couple of months in Kuwait, we are quickly realizing that the world is even larger than we ever imagined it.  We work with people from every continent in the world (except Antarctica) and they have all been to so many far corners of the world.  Well today, for the first time since we’ve been in Kuwait, I had a “wow, what a small world” moment.

I’ve started umpiring for the local Little League Baseball Association here, and we had our first games of the season today (I had a ton of fun, and will definitely share more details about my experiences in a future blog post).  Before the game, I introduced myself to my field ump for the game.  He was a nice young man, about 15 years old, named Mohammed.  We got to chatting, and I started asking him all sorts of questions. During our conversation he mentioned that he has lived in Kuwait his entire life, but his mother is from America. I asked him, “where in America?” and he replied, “a state called Minnesota.”  I thought to myself, awesome!  Our conversation continued like this:

  • Me: “No kidding, thats where i’m from!”
    • His eyes got big and the look on his face said “really?”
  • Him: “Have you ever heard of a town called Minneapolis?”
    • I chuckled
  • Me: “Ya, that’s where I live”
  • Him: “Reallllly? Have you ever heard of Coon Rapids?”

We shared a laugh and I informed him that I had family from Coon Rapids (shoutout to the Barnes Family!) and that I have spent  lots of time in Coon Rapids.  I told him I lived in a suburb called Minnetonka, and he about hit the floor.  He told me he bought his new baseball bat at the Dick’s Sporting Goods in Minnetonka last summer, and that it was his favorite store in the entire world (literally)!  He was in complete disbelief that I frequently shop at the same store, and that I would leave the city that has the coolest sporting goods store (in the world) to move to Kuwait!  It sounds like he goes back to Minnesota every other year to visit his family there.  He was a great kid, and I look forward to umpiring some more games with him in the future.

My second “what a small world” moment came a few hours later, after I was done umpiring my game.  I stopped over at the t-ball field to watch one of my 1st grade students play in his first game.  I quickly spotted his parents, and introduced myself.  His family was wonderful and we had a great conversation.  During our chat, when I informed his father that I was from Minnesota, he replied with “oh cool, I’ve been there.”  He went on and told me that he worked for a company called Emerson Process Management (shoutout to the Vacek boys!) located in a city called Chanhassen.  I laughed-out-loud and told him that is the same city that I worked in for the last 6 years.  We shared some fun stories about the area, like what our favorite restaurants to eat at were in Chanhassen.  The highlight of my day though was when my little first grader noticed me after the game was over.  He had the biggest smile you have ever seen, and called out, “Mr. Mitch, what are you doing here!?!” He followed it up with a monstrous high-five, and made my day!

It was a great day at the ballpark, and I’m fortunate to have made a few new friends there.  Ultimately though, it just proves that when you travel halfway around the world, submersed in a new culture, you will still find people with things in common. Like shopping at the HUGE Dick’s Sporting Goods in Minnetonka, Minnesota or eating at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Chanhassen, Minnesota!

Our First كرة القدم Game (soccer)

We had a blast during our vacation last week to Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The trip was full of great times, new adventures, and lasting memories.  One of the highlights of our trip (for us me) was attending a soccer match between the United Arab Emirates and Australia!

Before our trip, I was pumped when I found out about the match.  It was just a friendly match between the two countries, as they both prepared to play in the upcoming Asia Cup in January.  I was excited to experience the atmosphere, huge crowds, team chants, and the pride the crowd had for their home countries. Needless to say, it wasn’t like that at all.  The atmosphere was more like a high school soccer game.


Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium

When we arrived to the stadium, I was a bit confused to find out that you didn’t even need a ticket for the game. It was FREE to attend!  We tried entering the first gate we saw, but were denied entry by the security guards. They pointed further down the plaza, so I assumed we were just at the wrong gate. We then realized that even though we weren’t from Australia, we were being ushered down to the visitors entrance.  The security guards just assumed that since we were caucasian, we were rooting for the Aussies. No worries though, we were visitors in another country, so we just followed along.

When we made it into the stadium, I was surprised to see so many fans from Australia. Their designated “visitors” section was completely packed, and we struggled to find 2 empty seats. Eventually they had to open up additional sections for the Aussie fans because there were so many of them! I thought it was funny that they were restricted to their seat choices, because the entire stadium was empty! I think the capacity for the stadium was about 40,000 fans, however there was only about 1,500 people in the entire place! I would say about 3/4 of the people there were rooting for Australia, hardly any UAE fans were there.


A panoramic photo take from my iPhone. Rachel wore her sunglasses during the entire game because the stadium lights were blasting us in the face.

Since the stadium was so empty, the atmosphere was pretty lame. Here you had this huge stadium, but you could hear a pin drop because it was so quiet. Once-in-while the Aussie fans would chant, “Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oye Oye Oye.” I chuckled and participated since I was an adopted Aussie fan for the game. I blame the nonexistence of booze at the game for the boring atmosphere. There weren’t any other team chants or singing. The game was also a 0-0 draw, so no cheering after a goal was scored. However, we did see a bunch of guys take a “dive” and fake an injury!!! We actually made a drinking game out of it! Every time someone would fake an injury, we had to “drink.” However, since there was no booze there we decided to save our drinks for next summer when we return to the states for a few months. If we buy about 3 cases of beer, we should have enough to take a drink for each of the fake injuries!


We had great seats and it was so nice to see GREEN GRASS!

I also got a chuckle out of the concession stand at the stadium. Any drink you ordered, they would pour it into a tiny plastic cup, and it only costs like $0.25 (for water, pop, juice, etc.) If you wanted to order a snack, it was always a roll of the dice on what they would have. The first time we went up there, they didn’t have any snacks. Then like 20 minutes later we saw people walking around with popcorn. However by the time we got to the concession stand, they were sold out. Then a little while later they were selling small bags of sunflower seeds (unsalted, yuck!). Then about a half an hour later they were selling little bags of potato chips. I have no idea where they were coming up with this food, but it almost seemed like some dude was running back-and-forth from the grocery store buying whatever he could find. It was absolutely hilarious! I kept waiting for him to show up with a stick of bacon or sausage, but he never did.


Trying to “zoom in” with my crappy iPhone 4s.

Overall though, we had a great night at the game celebrating my birthday! We were able to cross something off my “sports fan bucket list” by attending an international soccer game. I’d still like to attend a big match in Europe or ultimately a World Cup game to experience the true atmosphere of a game.