The games that people play

Not all games need to reflect reality, but some do.

The game of Monopoly exhibits a certain spirit of unbridled capitalism, where you force your opponents into bankruptcy so you can get rich. If you want to take a look at the old military warfare, turn to chess; which is actually a portmanteau of Chariot (rook), Horse (knight), Elephant (bishop) and Soldiers (pawns). Who is not familiar with a deck of cards, which symbolizes the four main pillars of the economy of the Middle Ages: hearts for the church, swords for the military, clubs for agriculture, and diamonds for the merchant class?

Man by nature is a social animal, always craving social acceptance, praise and status. This is probably how the game of Politics was born. As Man evolved through the ‘ages’ of Stone, Bronze and Iron, he at the same time beheld much greater things. As he entered the Middle Ages, he went on to organize himself and others, into families, into groups, and into societies.

I guess it was in the Modern Age that his ferocious “organizing” skills took a turn and landed in the murky waters of power politics. When societies were simple, a simple form of politics was played. But. As society became complex, games also became more complicated and convoluted.

Politics, like all games, has rules. But they are flexible. Since there are chances of getting into trouble, everyone is given a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card. The players know that it is not the force but the brain that works here, so they arm themselves with less conscience and more greed. They know that they are the sweet and syrupy words; saccharin-coated promises; sweet gestures and captivating catchphrases that will not only keep the audience spellbound but also help them emerge as winners.

Since it’s just as hard to spot a player’s dishonesty as it is to figure out how much water swimming fish are drinking, almost all players get away with it. Players have the ability to skillfully manage means and resources by drafting endless manifestos. They also put their puppets to work 24/7 to keep the audience distracted by inviting pointless debates and endless arguments. They shamelessly plan brutal strategies by applying manipulative, cunning and ruthless methods and shamelessly using black money for campaigns.

In recent years, the blatant use of digital marketing tactics began to be used against their opponents. Thousands of unemployed youth are employed and the emotional card is used to play on the feelings of retired “WhatsApp aunts and uncles”. So with common tropes, all of them, spearheaded by the media, automatically become prolific participants in misinformation and propaganda.

Malicious campaign cards are also used to damage the influence of other players by exposing unsubstantiated corruption allegations, murder charges, and false accusations. Any question from the audience is met with resistance and if the questions continue, the audience is ‘disqualified’. In short, this is a game that requires ‘negative people’ to make ‘positive choices’. And it comes down to one factor. Stay in this ridiculous and irrational ‘game’ for as long as you can.

The games that children play are different. And they’re not necessarily some pointless pastime like the one above, because they all have a point.

Take Blindfold, for example, where one nominated child ties a cloth over their eyes and tries to catch another, thus making them the next target.

Or Hopscotch, where a child throws a small object into numbered spaces of a pattern of rectangular squares chalked on the floor, then jumps to try and retrieve it.

Or Dumb Charades – A guessing game where you mime a word or phrase to help your team understand.

These are all the games we all played too, back when we were still ‘mobile’. The reason these games deserve a special mention is because each of these sports always had a point to prove. Although we never realized it at the time, it was a childhood lesson that taught us how it would feel, if God forbid, one day we landed in that situation.

Even if it was for a few moments of gameplay, back then we knew what it was like to fumble our way in a dark world through a group of rude and teasing kids, trying to dodge your clumsy path.

We knew what it was like to laboriously jump on one leg, while others watched and hoped that we would somehow fail; so it would be your turn next.

We knew what it was like to struggle to speak with our hands; without using our vocal cords.

And yet, even after seeing a short but mocking trailer for what it was like to be blind, lame, or dumb, when life showed us the full movie, we were less prepared. Maybe because, then we had a choice. If we wanted to, we could open the blindfold, put down that other leg, or break the ban on voice.

Whenever! But when you have to really live with reality, it becomes a devastating problem. Even more so when you have to deal with people who are blessed with eyes, but do not have vision; with people who have two valuable legs but not the proper step; with people lucky to have a voice, but barely using it to speak for others. Yes, nobody is perfect. But a physical defect is definitely better than an emotional one.

All games are nothing more than a metaphor for life, where in the end you either win, lose or draw. Therefore, each player is like an author of his own destiny, because here you can write your own story. But when writing these stories, it’s imperative to remember that compassion is always greater than perfection. Winning is not important because very often, even if you win, you tend to lose. And sometimes even when you lose, you end up winning.

Therefore, the simple rule to remember is win if you can and lose if you must. But never cheat. Never give up. And never stop questioning.