The rules of the game

25 December 2014

A thought suddenly occurred to me while I was watching TV earlier.

Before you wonder what weird things I thought up, despite the impetus, it’s nothing frivolous and a pretty deep thought, if I do say so myself.

My question is: With things you hold dear at stake, would you play a game that you didn’t know the rules to?

The answer probably comes to you quickly enough. Assuming you are a logical and sane person, your answer should lie around the vicinity of “Obviously not” and “Hell no!”. Not only is it an exceedingly unfair game, you wouldn’t even know it when you win, or worse, find out way too late why you lost.

In addition, other players might try to take advantage of you, whether 1) they are clueless about the rules like you but experts at manipulation, or 2) know the rules and using that knowledge to their benefit.

It may be a little too abstract, so let’s put it in the form of a Monopoly game. You don’t know which of the players you’re playing with knows the rules. All you know is that you don’t know the rules.

When you rolled double sixes twice consecutively, a player loudly and confidently announces that it’s a foul, and that you must pay every player $200.

Is that in the rulebook? Perhaps this player really knows the rules? You can’t even formulate an argument because you don’t know what the rules are. All you can do is just suck it up and cough up the money, or risk being subjected to potentially worse punishment.

In the game of real world, the rulebook comes in the form of the penal code.

For as long as we are in civilised society, we are bound by this game and its rules, and consequently, its punishments.

The punishments extend far beyond the Monopoly money example. Of course, there’s your monetary assets in this game as well. But more than that, there’s also your reputation, your freedom, and your very life itself. They all spiral out and intertwine with those of all who are close to you – your family and your friends.

Maybe talking about life and death is a bit extreme, so let’s scale back. It can be as simple as not knowing your rights and what you can or cannot do, as determined in the rulebook. Just thinking about it makes me feel uncomfortably vulnerable.

Do you know the rules of the game?

I don’t, and it’s a very terrifying realization.


  • Reply Ashe 26 December 2014 at 11:30 am

    I don’t either, but I think that’s what makes it fun.

    • Reply Rin 30 December 2014 at 8:17 pm

      Hmmm, I suppose that’s one way to look at it. What if not knowing results in certain losses? Would you still view it as fun?

  • Reply Ashe 3 January 2015 at 3:36 pm

    Ah. Then I learn something.
    This is a very predicable yet unpredictable game and can take you into all sorts of places, that’s what I find fun.

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