Just read Iain M. Banks' *The Player of Games*, a science fiction novel in which a far-flung space empire is formed around a particularly gnarly and complex game that they believe simulates reality to such an extent that if you're successful at the game, you're successful at life. In the book, it's actually self-fulfilling prophecy, as people get promotions, etc., based on their performance in the game, but it made me wonder: is there really a game that correlates with success?
Tricky question - how do you define "success", anyway?
For a moment, let's adopt our materialistic western cliche view that success is money and power: if that's success, than chess, for example, is not this game. Success at chess does not equal success at life. In fact, I think there's an expression: "Good at chess, bad at life." Forget where I heard that.
Still, the game would probably be a thinking game. Though maybe not - I've seen one study (I think it was in *Freakonomics*) that showed that intelligence was not all that strongly correlated with success; possibly because intelligent people tend to play it safe, and the successful are more foolish ones who lucked into a windfall.
So what about luck? *The Player of Games* points out that luck is built into reality, right at the quantum level, and any "mature" game therefore should have an element of luck if it's like life. Knowing and calculating odds does seem like a valuable life skill. This also disqualifies chess. (Unless you talk about the luck of having your synapses fire optimally during the match, in which case all games have luck.)
So how about Texas Hold 'Em? I'm thinking of the time that Ray Muzyka won the poker tournament at DICE a few years back - he's successful at both life and poker, looks like. Could that be the game?
But wouldn't such a game also have diplomacy? Can't get very far in life without that, right? Luck, strategy, diplomacy - starts to sound a lot like Risk. Could that be the game?
Maybe it would even have hierarchy, like Asheron's Call or something. Could the game be an MMORPG?
What do you guys think?
And - for a bonus question - let's toss the idea of success being money and power - and say it's happiness. What game is it then?