What would you do if you were Prime Minister and found out that millions of school children in another country had developed a Game in which you were a key player? Would you ignore it or would you engage with it if only to boost how those children think of your nation? Let's find out.
First some background. I happened to be sitting at a lunch yesterday where a group of middle schoolers in the US (grades 6 - 8) came to discuss something called "The Game." The Game has three rules:
- Everyone in the world is playing The Game. (Sometimes narrowed to: "Everybody in the world who knows about The Game is playing The Game", or alternatively, "You are always playing The Game.") You cannot not play The Game; it does not require consent to play and you can never stop playing.
- Whenever one thinks about The Game, one loses.
- Losses must be announced to at least one person (either by using a statement such as "I Lost The Game" or by alternative means).
The common rules do not define a point at which The Game ends. An old variant (and the one on Wikipedia which is a fixed page due to vandalism) says that the British PM announces on television that "The Game is up." However, years of campaigning for this to occur and its failure have meant that the ending rule has changed. It turns out that there is a global push to have the game end on 10/10/10.
According to the children I was talking to, the focus is now on the Australian Prime Minister. The Game will end if she says "I've lost the game." Now I inquired as to whether this statement had to be on TV -- would YouTube or maybe easier, a tweet do? They were not sure but I think there was some thought that anything is better than nothing.
This got me wondering as to whether our Prime Minister might actually engage with millions of US school children on this. I made an inquiry and it was suggested to me that it would surely not pass the cost-benefit test. I was told that the US President would surely never do the reverse. I must admit, I'm not so sure. If Obama actually visited Australia and was talking at a school, it wouldn't surprise me at all if he engaged with them. For the Australian PM, it is an opportunity to raise awareness about Australia. Seems to me that the political test is passed. Add to it a simple economic test of bringing 15 minutes of happiness to millions of children, and it seems like a no brainer. Nonetheless, our previous PM politely refused.
So here it is: I'm calling on the Prime Minister to think more broadly and finally come and play The Game. What else could you possibly be doing for 5 seconds on 10th October?