Rachel Cobleigh (reveilles) wrote,
Rachel Cobleigh

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on the computational complexity of Candyland

So there's this "game" out in circulation called LCR.

Taken from the manufacturer's website

To start the game, you need three LCR cubes, at least three players, and three chips for each player. Coins can be used in place of chips for additonal players. After determining which player starts the game, the first player rolls three cubes. The number of L's, C's or Dots rolled dictate where the player's chips go.
  • The number of L's indicates the amount of chips to be passed to the player on the left.
  • The number of R's indicates the amount of chips to be passed to the player on the right.
  • The number of C's indicates the amount of chips to be passed to the center or "pot".
  • The DOTS are neutral and players neither pass nor place chips in the pot for any DOTS rolled.
When a player has only 1 or 2 chips, he rolls only 1 or 2 cubes. If a player has no chips, he is still in the game, but passes the cubes to the next player. The last player with chips is the winner, does not roll the cubes and wins the center "pot".

This game appears to be rapidly growing in popularity. A fun story-style review of it is available here. The take-away, should you decide to read more about LCR, is that it's not a game. It requires no human decision-making, strategic thought, creativity, memory skills, social skills, or even a pulse. You could build a machine that plays it. Your brain can be turned off and you could still participate in this game. I'm not saying that this game is boring. No, this goes beyond boring and straight into I-refuse-to-debase-myself.

Its outcome is ENTIRELY dependent on randomness. Nothing you can do can change that (unless you're telekinetic). Given this sort of mechanic, why would you bother "playing" it in the first place?

As I was off on a rant about this in the car last night, jcobleigh pointed out that Chutes and Ladders and Candy Land can be reduced to the same essential mechanic. I remember being singularly unimpressed with Chutes and Ladders when I played it as a 10-year-old, but I have fond 4-year-old memories of playing Candy Land with my parents.

As I sat in a kind of shock, absorbing the full import of this American-originated games culture that requires no actual critical thought, jcobleigh pointed out that for a 3- or 4-year-old, Candy Land is probably the right level of mental challenge. That comforted me a little, but then I started wondering if there are any other well-known games out there that fall into this category of non-game...
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