The Player of Games
by Ali Hamza

28th September, 2004

One Man: Let’s play a game! Let’s call it ‘Our Everyday life’.

Another Man: Ahaan..?

One Man: By following the rules of forming this game, let us lay its own rules and seek some outcomes.

Another Man: Ok. Let me give you the first one then…

“The game has to be realistic. That is the actions taken by players of this game shall hold as much of a resemblance to the deeds they do in their real life, as possible.”

One Man: Hmmm… In all the time that I have played this game, I don’t know of any instance where I have ever followed a rule of this liking.

Another Man: Well I am playing such a game for the first time in my life!

One Man: And we shall continue to play it! To be very honest, I myself am in the process of discovering this game. I started playing it with one or two basic principles, and today I am proud to be the sole author of over fifty guidelines for playing “Our Everyday Life”!

Another Man: My friend, if you take my advice, I wouldn’t use any of those guidelines for playing this very game; unless of course, they are re-discovered in the process of discovering new principles.

One Man: I understand why you say this; and, more or less, I agree with you: this first rule that you have laid is definitely one of those, for which to be strictly abided, many new rules have to be created.

Another Man: And that my friend, is because, rules can never be strictly abided!

One Man: So what do you propose?

Another Man: I say let’s play this the other way round: instead of determining the rest of the rules first, let’s determine some actions and then figure out the rules which would give us the best possible outcomes.

One Man: Man, I must confess… I find you to be a truly creative player!

Another Man: I hope I live up to the expectation.

One Man: Now since this is your idea, you determine the actions.

Another Man: Ok…

“There is this person who lives in a town far away from the big cities. He gets up in the morning and starts reading the newspaper. He reads non-stop until its time for lunch. While having his lunch, he turns on the television and scans through the entire channel selection, hoping to find something interesting. To his dismay, he finds nothing and throughout lunch, he just navigates through different channels until he has taken his last bite…. Off again to reading the newspaper, of which more than a half is still unread!

So he keeps reading until its near sunset and he has to get out of his house to do some domestic chores. While getting his errands done, he roams around the town-streets like a pigeon, freed from its cage after a whole day. Yes, of course, the exception is that it is an intelligent pigeon and can find its way without its flock!

He comes back, errands done, only to start reading the newspaper again! He reads until its dinnertime, and then again after dinner until its time for bed….

He still has a small section to read, which he reads himself to sleep!”

One Man: ….Not a very simple set of actions, but lets…

Another Man: …my friend the solution lies simply in finding out why cannot this man finish a measly newspaper?

One Man: Sir, I must interrupt this conversation right now, on the grounds that you are not a fair player. And though I feel bad saying this to you, I do not play with spoil sports…

I had already figured out what you were actually up to, but I was just waiting for you to make a mistake, so I myself would not break away from the true spirit of playing.

I knew that you had started playing another game with me without even declaring war! You wanted to play the game of playing Our Everyday Life itself; you started setting the rules for setting the rues of this game and you yourself ended up breaking them!

You would agree with me that you had already made your move by determining the actions. And when I was about to figure out the rules, you over-stepped me and tried to play my move! That we must submit is unfairness; and I believe that it tends to take place if we try to play many games at the same time.

In fact, this is the very reason why I play only one game at a time!

Another Man: My friend, your criticism accepted, but the wisdom I have gained in my life, is that for every game, within every action which you take in it lays another sub-game, which has its own set of rules and outcomes. And in fact these sub-games can further be broken down into sub-sub-games and so on and so forth.

I can imagine an entire hierarchy of games! Where each game may or may not differ from the other, but, and I must confess that, what I cannot imagine or even come close to imagining, are the final outcomes in this entire complex of playing games. Neither can I confirm that I know all the rules and guidelines required to play in this game-web, nor am I aware of all the strategies. In fact I don’t even know about the existence of more than a zillionth part of all the games that have ever existed or are bound to exist.

I do appreciate your belief in playing one game at a time and playing it fairly, but, as I have already told you, I don’t believe that rules can be strictly abided. In fact you yourself clarified this by telling me that, for rules to be strictly abided, new rules have to be created. And then again this is a never-ending process; this is how we keep digging deeper and deeper into the complex game of life!

My friend, I must take your leave now. I don’t hold any grudges against you, but I do have the hope that one day we might just be able to play some other interesting game!

Until then, have a nice life!

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