The Game (mind game)

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The Game
I lost the game.jpg
A player announces her loss of The Game at the San Diego Comic-Con in July 2008.
Designer(s) Unknown
Setup time None (or as long as it takes to explain the rules)
Playing time Ongoing since its creation
Random chance Partially
Skill(s) required Thought suppression, Strategy

The Game is a mental game where the objective is to avoid thinking about The Game itself. Thinking about The Game constitutes a loss, which, according to the rules of The Game, must be announced each time it occurs. It is impossible to win most versions of The Game; players can only attempt to avoid losing for as long as they possibly can. The Game has been variously described as pointless and infuriating, or as challenging and fun to play.[1] "The Game" can be played by anyone at anytime, and, depending on which rules for the game one subscribes to, the whole world, or at least all those who are aware of the game, are playing it.[1][2][3][4][5]



There are three commonly reported rules to The Game:[1][2][6][7]

  1. Everyone in the world is playing The Game. (Sometimes narrowed to: "Everybody in the world who knows about The Game is playing The Game",[4] or alternatively, "You are always playing The Game.") A person cannot 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 to at least one person[6] (either by using a statement such as "I lost The Game" or by alternative means).

The common rules do not define a point at which The Game ends. However, one reported variation states that The Game ends when the President of the United States, the Pope, or the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom announces on television that "The Game is up."[6] After a player has announced a loss, some variants allow for a grace period between three seconds to thirty minutes to forget about the game, during which the player cannot lose the game again.[1]


Some players have developed strategies for making other people lose, such as saying "The Game" out loud, by associating it with common items or phrases, or writing about The Game on a hidden note, in graffiti in public places, or on banknotes.[4][5]


The Game is an example of ironic processing (also known as the "White Bear Principle"), in which attempts to avoid certain thoughts make those thoughts more persistent.[8]


The origins of The Game are uncertain. One theory is that when two men missed their last train and had to spend the whole night on a platform, they tried not to think about their situation and whoever did first, lost.[2] Another is that it was invented in London in 1996 "to annoy people".[1] The reported earliest known reference on the Internet is from 2002.[1][9]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Montgomery, Shannon (17 January 2008). "Teens around the world are playing 'the game'". The Canadian Press. 
  2. ^ a b c "If you read this you've lost the game". Metro. 5 December 2008. 
  3. ^ Boyle, Andy (19 March 2007). "Mind game enlivens students across U.S.". The Daily Nebraskan. 
  4. ^ a b c Verelst, Jeroen (15 March 2007). "The Game, het eenvoudigste spel ter wereld" (Subscription required). De Morgen (in Dutch). p. 2. 
  5. ^ a b Rooseboom, Sanne (15 December 2008). "Nederland gaat nu ook verliezen". De Pers. 
  6. ^ a b c "The three rules of the game". Metro. 5 December 2008. 
  7. ^ "Don't think about the game" (Subscription required). Rutland Herald. 3 October 2007. 
  8. ^ Kaniewski, Katie (1 March 2009). "You just lost the Game". Los Angeles Loyolan. Retrieved 2009-03-27. 
  9. ^ " archived blog". 

External links