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Game is a social dynamic that children as well as horny adults play. Game has roots deep in the human psyche that appear at a very young age, and thus is immune to the cultural conditioning explanation. My one and a half year old nephew and three year old niece provided excellent test cases of game in action.
Even though there was a mountain of toys under the tree, some still unwrapped, and toys strewn all over the room, when my nephew saw my niece playing one particular toy with great concentration he decided that was the one he wanted, RIGHT NOW. When she wouldn’t share the toy, he cried (i.e. bitched and moaned in child language).
- Game principle demonstrated: Social Proof. My nephew wanted that toy more than all the others (despite the possibility that the other toys were better) because he saw his sister having fun with it. The toy was preselected by my niece.
When I gave my niece her present, she grabbed it and shredded the wrapping into confetti. Her mom had to remind her to thank me and give me a hug, which she did… absent-mindedly and perfunctorily, like she was fulfilling a tedious social obligation.
- Game principle demonstrated: Disqualification. By freely giving my niece a gift when she most expected it, with no strings attached, I disqualified myself as a person who intrigues her. Had I qualified her first — “Hey, I don’t know if you’ve been a good girl this year, maybe I’ll give your gift to your brother instead” — she would have worked to earn my gift (i.e. compliment) and showed gratitude in the form of a genuine spontaneous hug.
Later, I was deeply engrossed in playing with the cat. It’s a very fat cat that when it sits on you keeps you warm all over, like a wool blanket. My niece saw that the cat was contented, and I was completely focused on scratching it under the chin. I told her she could come and pet it if she was gentle. She bounded over.
- Game principle demonstrated: Pawning. The cat comes closest to competing with my niece for everyone’s attention. She knows a competitor when she sees one. By befriending the high value cat and making it a part of my social circle, I was able to pawn it off and lock in my niece’s attention.
I was watching one of the great classics on TV — Cannonball Run. My niece wanted to play “magic wand” with me again. (Previously, I let her turn me into a frog.) I waved her away. She kept coming back and I kept telling her to move away from the TV. She whined and ran right up to my face, bopping me on the head with her wand and begging me to turn into a frog.
- Game principle demonstrated: Active Disinterest. My three year old niece knows she is the cutest person in the living room. She prances like a princess. In this environment, she is a 10. I gave her an IOD (Indicator of Disinterest) when I showed more attention to the TV than her, and that motivated her to win my approval.
When I finally relented and turned once more into a frog, and made ribbit noises, she squealed with delight. She zapped me with her wand again, and I turned into a monkey. Then a dog. And a bird. Each time I imitated a new animal, she released bursts of joy. But as my list of zoo animals ran out, she began getting bored. When I half-assedly meowed like a dying cat, she said “That animal is boring. I’m bored” and haughtily walked off.
- Game principle demonstrated: Push-Pull. I spoiled my niece by giving her what she wanted. I was “pulling” her by being her dancing monkey, without pushing her away to keep her wanting more. She became bored with her expectations constantly being fulfilled.
My niece pulled out her stuffed animals and arranged them around a few dishes of my grandmother’s fine china. I asked her what the toys were doing, and she said they were having a tea party. I told her the elephant would not need hands because he would suck up his tea with his trunk. Then I pretended to be each of the animals, acting out the scene in progress. “Woof, Mr. Giraffe, would you please pass the bone?” “Excuse me, Mr. Dog, but Mr. Tiger wants to eat you. He likes delicious dog meat with his tea.” My niece parried my every move with a storyline of her own. The character development was better than most Hollywood blockbusters.
- Game principle demonstrated: Stimulate her emotions. I threw logic out the window and immersed myself in the stuffed animal tea party world, and my niece’s excitement grew the more I built up the fantasy world. She was happy to discard logic and run wild with the animals’ dialogue, no matter how little sense it made.
I told my brother-in-law that based on the toys my nephew and niece played with (lincoln logs and princess dolls respectively), there was little chance they would grow up homosexual. His lineage was safe.
- Game principle demonstrated: It’s biomechanics all the way down.