Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Russian Roulette Lite

For no particular reason, I find myself thinking about games today.

Not the kind of games I play now, of course. No, I mean the kind of games I used to play when I was young enough to actually admit to playing games. Back when I was a kid, all games were basically the same in format. You and the other players sat round whatever instrument of psychological torture you'd chosen to submit yourselves to, and each of you in turn performed a simple, seemingly harmless action (poking fake swords into a fake barrel, placing items of cargo on a plastic mule, whatever). Play would continue in this fashion until, at some unpredictable moment, something sudden and catastrophic would happen. A brief moment of silence would ensue while each of the players confronted his or her mortality in their own personal way, and then play would continue with the disaster-stricken participant excluded.

At no point could anyone explain to the eliminated player why their identical performance of the simple, repetitive action had on this occasion resulted in their dismissal, nor how everyone else had earned their resultant sensation of superiority over them. It was essentially impossible to improve your skill at playing the game, or to otherwise increase your chances of averting the catastrophic outcome. Play simply continued until only one player remained as, for want of a better term, the "winner".

Here's what I learned from years of playing these cookie-cutter games in their many and various forms. Life is fraught with horrifyingly random catastrophes, there is no way to avert them or lessen their impact, and the best we can hope for is to be the last person left who hasn't lost so we can quit playing before we lose as well...

... and a very merry non-specific Winter festival to you all!

4 comments:

  1. :) A very interesting set of thoughts there, Cy. In an effort to shed a little lightness, (although I'd certainly, and without doubt, agree that the chaotic nature of the universe is as you describe) I think that armed with knowledge, a will to survive and by being aware of your surroundings, you can take measures that will reduce the chances of succumbing to the predations of this ever present force :)

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  2. Very true.

    I wonder why those childhood games never tried to teach us that... :)

    I'm now picturing a version of "The Deer Hunter", in which De Niro and Walken were forced at gunpoint to play Buckeroo or, God help them, Purple People Eater during the war. Years later, De Niro finds his old friend still unable to break the cycle of self-destruction, playing Ker-Plunk for money in some back-street dive.

    Frankly, I shudder...

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  3. The only way forward is to increase the chaos and jog the elbow of the universe, or at least the elbows of other players, while nobody is looking.

    Smile innocently and let someone else take the blame whilst feeling deliciously naughty.

    That is what we want to teach our children, right? That's what I learned and it has served me well.

    You did not mention Curse of the Cobras *shivers*

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  4. "The only way forward is to increase the chaos and jog the elbow of the universe, or at least the elbows of other players, while nobody is looking.

    Smile innocently and let someone else take the blame whilst feeling deliciously naughty."

    :) :) :) Funny stuff. If ever we get to play a game of some type together, I'll be keeping an eye on you :) :) :)

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