Archive for March 20th, 2009

Free Cell, Cheating, and Philosophy

Posted on March 20, 2009. Filed under: Games, Philosophy, Spirituality |

playingcards Have you played the game Free Cell? You most likely have if you have a Windows-based PC, as it comes with your computer. It’s a Solitaire game in which you must form four stacks of cards by suit, by moving cards around from “free cells” to spaces in the layout.

I had a discussion with my best philosophy-discussion mate about this game. He asked me if I had any strategy for Free Cell. (I’m not sure why we were talking about this as our discussions usually tackle such topics as “Is there really free will?” and “If two particles can communicate at infinite distance, what does that say about the nature of our own consciousness?”—you know the sort of thing.)

I said that I usually win this game, so I guess my strategy is to keep trying until I do.

“You usually win?”, he asked?

“I do. Rarely do I resign a game.”

“But, what do you mean you keep trying until you win? How do you do that? Once you get stuck, you lose!”

“Whadduya mean?”

“Well, have you looked at your stats?”

I replied that I hadn’t looked at my Free Cell stats in years. (Unlike my WordPress stats, which I look at, like, 27 times a day.) 😉

“Why not?” he wanted to know.

I don’t like what the statistics say, is why. The stats record a loss just because I get stuck once! I have the opportunity to replay the game and move different cards in a different order each time. He told me that the game records each re-start as a new game, therefore each time I did that it had recorded a loss.

Well, exactly. It wasn’t a loss to me; therefore why would I want to look at statistics which said that it was?

Years ago, I remember thinking that a game that branded me a “failure” after only one attempt at solving a “problem” was no fun at all. Also, it didn’t reward persistence and strategy. It required someone to see the big picture right from the first move. I am not good at that. But I will plug away until I work through all my “issues” with a situation.

To me, each time I win a game of Free Cell using a particular random dealing of cards—no matter how many times I have to restart the game—counts as One Win; No Losses. I like to win! So I don’t look at rules and recordings that tell me I haven’t done.

My companion says this is cheating! There are rules! I should have read and acknowledged them if I wish to play this particular game! (Honestly, he did put in all those exclamation points!) My position, however, is this: MY computer; MY software; MY game; MY rules. If following the developers statistics doesn’t please me, I’m free to ignore them.

Of course I AM a stickler for agreements. If I engage in an agreement or contract with you, I will adhere to it under all but the most adverse circumstances. And I won’t like breaking it even then. Most software comes with lengthy license and legal information, which we tacitly “agree” to, in exchange for using the program. Once we open up that game and start playing, we have “agreed” to many, many provisions. In the case of Free Cell; nowhere did it say I must consider myself a failure; a loser; a big fat zero if I don’t win the game at the first go—I looked it up ❗ In the interest of full disclosure though, I’ll state here and now that I WILL NOT make a copy of my Free Cell game and distribute it to you, nor will I SELL YOU the game in any form, no matter how much you beg! I did in fact “agree” to those provisions. Just so we’re clear. 😎

Sometimes, following rules just makes the most sense. It would be confusing if I were to enter a race, say, and instead of starting at the start line, I just walked to the finish before the official start and said “I’m here! Isn’t that the point, to get to this line?”

In many instances, probably most; the journey is the point, and if that results in an award-winning finish, then fine. If not, then I’ll bet I’ve learned something along the way.

If neither of those things are true, than why not rewrite, reconfigure, or rewire? After all, it’s MY life, and I am free to create it as I wish. {Remember the Kobayashi Maru!}

Am I cheating? Or am I just molding the clay to form my own vision?

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