Menu Switch

Partial Instructions for The Game

By Tim Horvath From Issue No. 2

The following are the rules, creased and folded on thin, vellum-like, recycled game-rule paper, bleached, former contents the rules of other games, Risk, Monopoly, the earlier rules stripped away like ghastly wallpaper, plastered on, partial only, but enough to get you started playing the game, doing all that rules can do, i.e. get you launched, and once it is up and running (the game, that is), you will probably not even need the rules, will look back at them with a whiff of nostalgia, like the rules posted on your second grade classroom wall, rules like “Be kind” and “Use your manners” and “Feet on the floor.”

Do not attempt to break or bend the rules. Rules, lacking ductility, do not bend, and lacking brittleness, do not break. They are made of ink and paper and paper and ink. Do not do these things. These are not yet even the rules, for crying out loud. We are still in the pre-rules. Included are a ductile rod and a brittle stick for players to occupy their hands with if they experience an insatiable urge to bend or break something.

Ahem, the rules, then:

  1. At this point you’ve opened the box if you’re reading this. Congrats! Apparently these rules are intact even if you purchased the game at a yard sale for 25 cents out of a collapsing cardboard box that maybe a mouse was living in, maybe doing all right, living a fulfilling mouse existence. Here’s hoping you are pleased with your purchase, not to mention with your other finds, and that the sellers, too, are pleased with the results of their stuff-purge, maybe also a kid-purge—maybe this is the final sell-off and next they’ll be dropping off a child at college, and here’s hoping that the empty nest syndrome isn’t too bad, doesn’t send them into spirals of clinical depression and existential angst, all while their youngest child, now thousands of miles away, is staying out late and experimenting with drugs that are like supermutant steroidal versions of the drugs that they mildly flirted with once, and piercing his or her nipples and his or her moles and even a freckle because lord knows every protuberance must be pierced. Aggggh. But the game, of course, is yours now, not theirs. Nonetheless, it bears something of them—anything purchased at a yard sale is thick with molecules of memory. Arguments—about the rules of the game, about finances and curfews, about weight gain and snoring, about whether it is okay to hold drugs for a friend—hover about your purchase. That is why everything is arrayed on towels and blankets (also for sale) in a yard—to allow those memories to air out, so if you buy something early in the morning, you should let it sit awhile outdoors before bringing it inside. Some foolish folk call them “garage sales,” but everyone knows that if too many memory molecules bulk up in a garage it’s just as stealthily lethal and unsparing as carbon monoxide, and the inhabitants will suffocate on their own recollections.
  2. Each player chooses two pieces, one homebody and one nomadic wanderer. Either your semi-translucent or your opaque piece can occupy either role; just make sure that they are variants of the same color.
  3. Players will take turns flipping the dice to determine who will go first. The first ten or so rolls will warm up the dice. They should rise in temperature every few rolls and then will have to be allowed to cool. This rising and cooling constitutes the “action” of the dice. They’ve been filled with an isotope of hexafluorobutadiene 1,3 designed to react sensitively, Brownian motionwise, to good old human rolling. There is no reason to be alarmed by this added heat and cooling—they should not be “too hot to handle.” If this proves untrue (literally and not idiomatically), do avail yourself of the set of tongs (enclosed). A reason for concern is if you should see a hairline fracture in one or both of the dice, an indication that the special polycarbonate plastic that has been used as a gas-containing canister has begun to deteriorate and may need replacing. Should they actually break and their contents manage to leak out, do not be alarmed; simply tear open the antidote-pak along the perforation (located below the phrase “Hazard Neutralizer”), and dust the area lightly around the spill or, if pre-spill, on the dice or die. At the same time, you or one of your fellow game-players should probably contact Poison Control. However, we realize that the word “die” used two sentences ago is slightly ambiguous, and so let us be clear that it refers to the singular form, i.e. a multifaceted polyhedron, and not to the verb form which denotes shedding the corporeal stage of life, or, if you like, slipping past this mortal coil, or becoming worm-food if that is more harmonious with your personal belief system, with which we have no intention of interfering. If you do not have an antidote-pak or your antidote-pak shows a date that is expired, that is fine, too; call the ever-available number at the bottom of these instructions (a toll call after 9 and before 3, Central Mongolian Time), and the manufacturer will make sure you get another one. If a yard sale purchase, keep in mind that the lack of said pak would not be grounds for a lawsuit, but certainly a gruff reprimand. If you decide to sell the game at your own yard sale, please make sure that if there are only a few pieces in the game, like the pawns and dice, an antidote-pak is one of those items, so that you don’t find yourself on the receiving end of a gruff reprimand.
  4. The atmospheric layers need to be assembled before the game can be properly played. First separate them out by thickness and color, making sure that the contour is on top. They should bind together through the microfibers on the undersides of the contoured edges. These will only become critical toward the latter part of the game, but if personal history is any gauge you will not wish to put the game on hold at that point and struggle with these, akin to fumblingly putting on condoms in triplicate in the heat of passion.
  5. The game can be played by between 2 and 22 people, but always should be played by an odd number. So, I suppose I/we (which is it? Is there an “I” sitting somewhere formulating these rules, or are there eight of us swigging schnapps and having deep-fried coconut shrimp?) could’ve said between 3 and 21. However it is possible, if you should lose one person or gain one at the minimum and maximum points, to continue playing without sacrificing any of the positive neurotransmission that you’re gonna be experiencing throughout the ludic headtrip that is the playing of the game. (And let’s face it, people’s schedules being what they are, your numbers are going to fluctuate should you play a full game from soup to nuts. Like now, we’re down to seven of us sitting around and making up the rules, unless of course it is just me).
  6. Each round of the game consists of six mandates and four optionals. Only once the mandates have been exhausted can one revert to an optional. Mandates can become optionals through a semantic converter card. You can also use an ontological converter, but it is poor strategy as you are going to want to hold on to the latter—très valuable (no time to look up the French for “valuable,” sorry)!
  7. Please make sure that the floor plan of the domicile in which the game is transpiring has been faxed or mailed to the manufacturer at least a week before the game has been scheduled to be played. This will provide a sufficient time-window for the manufacturer to create the die-cast scale models that will be required for the Helluva House segment of the game (there it is again! die! die! Not you…). If the game is being played in a duplex, it is recommended that the players divvy up the two levels of the house. Note that no technological devices (including but not limited to cellular phones and acoustic echo enhancers) are allowed, and their use will be penalized (see section 37 on Penalties).
  8. Once the dice have warmed and cooled several times, someone should roll to determine whether the determinant of advancement shall be the dice (1-4), the spinner (5-8), or the random number generator (9-12). Note that the spinner, appearances notwithstanding, is an extremely thin blade, and precautions should be taken accordingly. It is not recommended that one attempt shaving or mowing with it, although these actions could probably be accomplished, albeit only by compromising sharpness and thus gyro-dynamics. Gauze has been included in the first aid kit. Note that you may suspect that the random number generator is malfunctioning, should it, say, spew the same number repeatedly for a hundred rounds, but unlike the spinner or the dice, where it would be almost certain that physical degradation was responsible, with the random number generator it will be impossible to know for sure. Wondering’s allowed.
  9. Once play has begun, the homebodies will move within the scale model of the house along the squares. A homebody cannot leave the house (but can go as far as the picket fence), unless an ontological converter is used or the player decides to play against character (see below, section 10, Playing Against Character).
  10. It is always acceptable for a player to Play Against Character, so long as a penalty is exacted.
    • for minor infractions (80-1000 monetary units). Minor infractions include understatement, listening to music not specified in the character’s preference template, jogging if the character prefers walking or running, ordering meat cooked to a doneness other than that in which the character prefers it (if skipping over more than one longitudinal slice of difference, e.g. from medium rare to well done, an additional penalty will be exacted).
    • for major infractions (1000-10,0000 monetary units). Major infractions include changes from pacifist to warmonger, selective mute to talk show host, mannequin to robot, donkey to paper clip, and so forth.
  11. Assemble the Law so that it casts a shadow over the right side of the board only. See Diagram G7 for instructions on how to set up the light source, and/or troubleshooting if the Law should fail to stay up.
  12. Goals of the game: The homebody’s goal is to undergo all the trials of domesticity and accumulate conveniences. A convenience, designated by the stackable green chips, is anything that shortens the length of a turn and thus enables more conveniences to be gathered on that same turn. The nomadic wanderer’s goal is to collect exoticas, which will require the purchase of expander kits. Expander kits are slabs of different locales, and include industrial air patches, esplanades, piazzas, villages, mountains, half-mountains, ruins, semi-ruins. Like conveniences, exoticas are stackable; they are the red chips. Both conveniences and exoticas should remain on the squares in which they are procured or stacked through the end of the game or an Earthquake, whichever comes first (see section 34 on Earthquakes).
  13. At any point during the game, an individual player may divvy up his or her total move between homebody and nomad. Note that a homebody and nomad cannot violate their characters even at penalty except in cases of an Ice Age (see section 37 on Ice Ages and Grand Thawings) or Total Armageddon.
  14. If you look carefully at the game pieces (we suggest you do so now), you’ll see miniature games within the home, such as a chess/checkers set, backgammon, and Go (there are others, too, but the list of instructions must, by its nature, exclude some things). At various points during the game, players may find themselves engaged in a “game within the game,” playing a spirited round of chess or some bloodthirsty mahjong. This makes for an excellent diversion and is perfectly legal within the rules of the game. You’ll also note that there is a version of this game within the game, and it is to be expected that sometimes players will find themselves playing the game within the game, which of course contains a version of the game within it, too. Infinite regress problems usually sort themselves out, but please see Section 42 for advice about how to get around one, and/or the emergency hotline in case all troubleshooting efforts fail.
  15. Each player should record his/her Memories on the Memory Pad. This is not necessary if you create a Slideshow of the evening’s events, which is, of course, optional.
  16. Any food consumed during the game must include a small portion that is put in the Crumblebox, the box with the crank you see. At the end, the player with the closest ratio of conveniences to exoticas gets to determine how the contents of the Crumblebox are allocated. If there is an Earthquake (section 34), an Ice Age (section 37), or Total Armageddon (sections 39-51), then the contents of the Crumblebox should be distributed sooner.
  17. Time passes dialectically in the game, so use the dice/spinner/random number generator to determine whether the starting point will be an expanding universe or a contracting one, progressive or conservative, classical or romantic, minimalist or maximalist, hedgehoggish or fox-like, etc. Can you trace similar patterns of oscillation on the surface of your daily endeavors? Or better still, at extreme depths, where the fish with no eyes of your life swim? Note: the pendulum has been included for decorative purposes only; should it fail, the manufacturer cannot be held responsible, and it cannot be replaced.
  18. Please alert the manufacturer if any player is named Mike or Jacques, and provide a phone number so that the manufacturer can contact him/her with important information during the game. If neither name is to be found among the players, this aspect can be skipped.
  19. Please try not to think about the former lodgings or eventual fates of the game pieces while you are playing, unless you decide to toggle into Existential Mode, at which point do take a moment to assemble the Sisyphean Chute. You may place the boulder anywhere along the chute—the exact spot does not matter, as nothing does. The boulder should offer some resistance going up but effect a pleasingly smooth downward roll.   
  20. While waiting for others to move, players have several options:
    • the filling out of a tax form from an imaginary country which uses an elaborate barter system and where elephants abound and their dung has many uses in everyday life (forms included, dung sold separately).
    • taking pictures of game-play using the special camera included, which captures the essence of objects but blurs their details to prevent other manufacturers from trying to duplicate or otherwise rip off the game.
    • watching a movie from the “Movies Allowed” list (see the appendix).
    • remaining in character.
    • making mathematical discoveries and/or composing, usually but not limited to the form known as the “symphony.”
    • waiting in a satori-like state
    • designing their own game—how do you think this one came about?
  21. Sexual intercourse during the game is not forbidden but heavily regulated.
    • a position must last no less than three minutes.
    • a blisscounter should be appointed to keep track of the quanta of enjoyment.
    • an orgy cannot be scheduled, but invitations may be issued by a plurality of the already-entwined.
    • homebodies can talk dirty but the dirt will be scattered around the housespace and must be thoroughly scrubbed afterward.
    • nomadic wanderers may talk dirty only with echo effects. They may also wander across bodily landscapes, but must secure guides. It is okay to shellac guides (as at other times during the game), but keep in mind that guides may apply anti-shellacking strategies such as canceling traveler’s insurance, cultivating frostbite, and avalanche bingo.
  22. The consummation of the game shall be determined by the following formula:
    Horvath Equation
    where d represents collective decibels achieved, u and u represent egocentric comments, i.e. statements related to self-advancement (u) or discovery (u), x is the number of people hanging around, and a and b represent the extreme limits at which points (a) the game and reality would subsume one another and thus become co-extensive, and (b) either the game or universe would cease to      DIRECTIONS CUT OFF, SUDDENLY AND INEXPLICABLY WITH SOME WORDS ABOUT THE DIRECTIONS CUTTING OFF, HERE
About Tim Horvath More From Issue No. 2