Games vs Toys
By Nojh Livic
“I’ve found myself interested in the idea of identity recently,” he said. I didn’t bother to acknowledge the statement but instead simply swiped the page the morning report. He continued as I expected he would. “More specifically the qualities which can added or removed in order change identity.” It was far too early for such a discussion and he knew it. Which is why he set the plate of breakfast to my left, perhaps hoping to at least garner a silent protest by entertaining my mouth with food.
“I know I know. A discussion like that could ultimately lead into an argument of semantics. Duck. Dog. Dullard. Tomato. Tomato,” he waved his hands in the air in an expression of frustration. “But isn’t that, in and of itself, apart of the appeal? An argument of semantics is not some inevitable dead-end into an agreement to disagree. It is a revision upon the fundamental means by which we share identification: communication!”
The eggs were excellent and the bacon nicely crisp. As much as his conversation was lacking, when he had an idea running around in his head, his cooking was excellent. I reached for a glass of milk that is always to my right, only to find it sliding into place just as my fingers closed around it. He smiled at me in that earnest way he had. He should know better than to give me a chance to shut him down so early. Instead I lifted the glass of milk and took a sip, wanting to wash the taste of bacon down my throat. He continued to speak.
“But here is what I’ve been pondering. Is there a difference between a toy and a game? Of course there is. Is there a fundamental difference? No I don’t think so. One can identify a duck versus a dullard just as they can a game and a toy. Yet, rational thinkers say a game is a toy with goals. They imply that the qualities shared by the two are the same, save that a game has one extra characteristic!” He was cleaning up the preparation area now. I glanced over my shoulder at him, then back at my dwindling food and report I had set aside. I continued to eat. Sustenance would give me energy to survive this trial.
“One characteristic. Take a game and remove its goal, it is a toy. Take a toy and give it a goal, it is a game. Can identity really be so flippant? Not in all cases of course. I am me and you are you. There are so many fundamental differences that you could never be me, nor I you. Yet I wonder, and here is the real clincher, if a toy can have one simple thing added to it, and become a game. Can I remove something from you and have you become something different as well?”
I frowned at the last spoonful of eggs and looked over at him. He was leaning against the cooker, watching me eat, towelling his hands. He smiled as he saw me looking in his direction, then tilted his head slightly. I looked back to the last of my breakfast, then to the glass of milk, empty. My pulse began to quicken. Was it the fear and suspicion or something more? I set the spoon down.
“Is something wrong, dear?” he asked quietly. I lifted my napkin and wiped at my mouth calmly, willing my hands not to shake with the adrenaline. I leaned forward to begin standing but I found that my legs were refused to cooperate. My arms came down hard upon the table, shaking it. My tablet fell off the table, tumbling to the floor. “Then again. Perhaps a duck and a dullard aren’t so different, when looked at in broad strokes. For you everything has always been a game hasn’t it? Childhood? School? Your friendships? Your relationships? Our relationship? Something to entertain yourself.”
He lifted the tablet from the floor and, after a moment, set it down on the table. I couldn’t stand. It was taking effort to remain in place. My muscles seemed to be betraying me. I managed to lift my head and look at the tablet. His face was displayed on it, along with my last five reports specifically about him. I opened my mouth to ask how long he had known but my vocal cords tightened and no sound would issue. He leaned down so I could see him. He was still smiling so calmly and earnestly.
“But not to worry. I’ve figured out a way to make sure you don’t lose this game. Your perfect record will remain.” he said almost cheerily. “We just have to take away the goals.”