Friday, March 7, 2014

Life Is Not a Game (Except It Kind of Is)

"Life is not a game!"

How often have we heard that sentiment expressed?

While I agree on principle, there is a game that actually does remind me of life. No, it's not the Game of Life. It's a card game called Fluxx, and it's almost exactly like life (only nobody dies at the end).

How Fluxx is like life: 

1. The rules are always changing. There are four types of cards in Fluxx: keeper cards, action cards, goal cards, and rule cards. Every time a player puts down a new rule card, the way the game is played changes. You can make plans all you want, but you still never know what's coming next or how you may need to adjust in order to deal with the changes.

2. The actions are unpredictable.  An action card could upend everything the players have been working for during the last few rounds, prompting many players to consider ending it all with a big, dramatic table flip. There's no predicting how other players' actions could disrupt your plans.

3. It's impossible to tell if you're winning. Because the goal cards change constantly (sometimes multiple times per round) it's impossible to anticipate the end of the game. Often games will end rather abruptly, with other players scratching their heads and saying, "Wait, wait. What just happened? You won?" The upshot is that it's impossible to tell if you're winning. The goal is just to keep playing the game until it's over. Maybe you'll win and maybe you won't. 

That sounds a lot like life. The rules are always changing, people's actions are unpredictable, and although you have moments of success and failure, it's usually impossible to tell if you're winning overall. 

Of course, while the parallels between playing Fluxx and living life do sound striking, they're only coincidental. 

Life is not a game. If only it were that simple. 

Most games have set rules and definite standards to judge whether you're winning or losing, but life doesn't necessarily feel like that. Although I may joke with my friends that I'm "winning at life," I know that such boasting is empty without considering one important element: life's ultimate goal.

For the Christian, life's ultimate goal is to give glory to God. It's important to remember that the opportunities to do so come through our failures as well as through our successes. Success means little if it hinges on moral or spiritual misconduct, and failure can become success if we allow God to use it to work in us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.

Remember that in one sense, winning and losing are relative terms. It's possible to gain the whole world and lose your own soul. It's also possible to lose everything and still have it all. 

Want to feel that you are winning at life? Don't place too much weight on the standards of success that society uses. 

Remember that in living the Christian life, faithfulness is success



3 comments:

  1. I love Fluxx!

    If you like it I highly recommend a similar game called 'We Didn't Playtest This At All', which is a little quicker and less rule-intensive, although no less chaotic.

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  2. Sounds a lot like my 'life is like a game of cricket' theory

    I hereby challenge you to a winner takes all game of Fluxx. (To define 'all' we must first consider that we enter this world with nothing and can take nothing with us when we leave)

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