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Win, lose, draw. Whether playing by the rules, bending and breaking them, or simply tossing fate to the fickle winds of chance, games are an inescapable part of our lives. Knowingly or not, we are often engaged in zero-sum games with others—or else ourselves—celebrating our victories as we pile up our losses. While it’s true that games are “played,” they sometimes represent lethal danger to the loser. In the world of fables, lives, fortunes, whole kingdoms are forfeited over a risky gamble gone south. And is it so different in our workaday world, where the simplest bad gamble wagered at just the wrong time can result in disaster?
Daily, we find ourselves caught up in vortices of every imaginable kind of game. Word games and war games. Shell games and waiting games.
Schoolyard games, mind games, shadow games, games of chance. There are game theories, confidence games, and those who would try to game the system, which is, to some, fair game. One can beat another at her, his, or their own game, or give the game away. And as for love, the old torch-song standard reminds us, Many a tear has to fall, but it’s all in the game.
Conjunctions:77, States of Play, will explore the myriad games we engage in, the games that rule our lives, and the spectrum of results, from joyous to tragic, that they yield.
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States of Play: The Games Issue