Life | 5 months ago
Remember 'The Game'? Well congratulations, you just lost it again
Looking back at the most relentless playground mind game of the '00s. Also, sorry.

"FUCK'S SAKE," we all shouted when someone lost The Game, because when one person lost The Game, we all lost The Game.

It's the kind of irritatingly persistent joke that only teenagers are capable of maintaining, as only teenagers can be this persistently irritating.

The Game spread like wildfire throughout schools in the mid-to-late '00s, encouraged mainly by boys, as we're the only ones stupid enough to carry on with this kind of nonsense.

For the uninitiated: welcome to The Game, the most relentless and annoying craze to circulate around schools since the Crazy Frog. The Game has many variants, but typically consists of three rules:

1. Everyone in the world is playing The Game. A person cannot choose to not play The Game; it does not require consent to play and one can never stop playing.

2. Whenever one thinks about The Game, one loses.

3. Losses must be announced. This can be verbally, with a phrase such as "I just lost The Game", or in any other way: for example, via Facebook.

 

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Photo: Edward O'Connor

 

The objective of The Game was simply to not think about The Game, which made playing The Game easy, losing The Game even easier, and winning The Game basically impossible.

No one can be exactly sure how, when or where The Game started, but similar kinds of mind games and social experiments have existed previously; Leo Tolstoy devised a game with his brother in 1840 where they had to avoid thinking about a white bear.

Let it never be said that 19th century Russian authors don't know how to have a good time.

The psychology behind The Game is called 'ironic processing', whereby attempts to repress certain thoughts end up making them more prevalent. The more desperate you were to not lose The Game, the more likely it was that you would lose, which served you right, frankly.

 

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Photo: Kernow

 

But what made The Game fun wasn't suppressing thoughts of The Game, but forcing other people to lose. Once you were thinking about The Game, and because you had to announce that you had lost The Game, everyone within listening distance of you immediately lost too, prompting indignant groans and/or kicking.

It wasn't enough to simply tell people that they'd lost The Game, though - you had to get creative. T-shirts were made, notes hidden around for unsuspecting players to find. The more people you could force to lose The Game the better, so YouTubers who caused hundreds of thousands of people to lose The Game must feel pretty good about themselves.

If The Game was part of the landscape at your school then you will no doubt remember trying to trip up your mates and make them lose The Game, but in time, all memories fade, and The Game too will have slipped from your consciousness as you got older.

So if you've left school, grown into a semi-functioning adult with a job and a place to live and haven't thought about The Game since the '00s, congratulations.

You just lost again.

Feature: Jason Scragz / BBC

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Nostalgia, British, School