Anime · Games

No Game No Life, or why all kings should be strategy gamers

I’ve just started watching No Game No Life, as I said I would in one of my first posts on this blog, because I’d heard it was good. I underestimated how much it would fit with my personality. As a fan of strategy games, I guess it was natural, if you know anything about the show, you should know that it was something I’d easily like. Okay, let me put it this way, I am by no means a hater or particular lover of Sword Art Online, I quite like the show but have no strong feelings about it. Or at least I’ve been made to have no strong feelings about it because that’s the safest way to avoid an argument (I actually quite like it don’t tell anyone). But it’s clearly a baseline for a basic anime where the protagonist gets sucked into a game/fantasy world. Konosuba parodies an anime where the protagonist gets sucked into a game/fantasy world. No Game No Life makes that concept an intelligent concept and instead of playing the world as a game, creates a world where it’s all about playing tons of smaller games and goes out of its way to analyse them in depth. Which makes the world of Tet far closer to our world than SAO or Konosuba or Re:Zero, out of the three other anime that I’ve watched that build on this concept.

The strength of No Game No Life for me, four episodes in, if we discount the obvious incredible cuteness and factor of protectiveness I and most viewers should feel towards Shiro, is that Sora & Shiro, or Blank, approach every problem like it is a game, or more precisely, a strategy game. And while they encounter setbacks, they think through this setback and come up with a logical and reasonable way of beating this setback by thinking about the situation they’re in. This is first seen in the rock-paper-scissors game that Sora likes to use, first on Steph where they both give us a breakdown of why it works through game theory rules, his addition of an extra rule unnerved her and caused her to fall into his trap by misreading his priorities. Which is a key rule of any game, be able to read your opponent and predict what he will do with accuracy, or you are doomed to fail. Later on, he uses this game and the rules of the world (like any good strategy gamer, using the environment to his advantage) to flush out all of the corrupt officials in the realm.

Sora also recognises when a game appears to have one set of rules but in reality has a different set based on outside forces, and adapts in kind to deal with that, which is what the whole chess game saga was about. A few days in this world of games and the master of games have made themselves, as Blank, the rulers of a kingdom. I’m very excited to see where the anime goes next but I was especially interested in how Shiro and Sora turned out to be exceptional rulers, at least in their first days of power. They’re good at managing, based on Sora’s experience of Civ and it was from that line the idea of this post sprung from.

Not that it’s seriously suggesting that all kings should be strategy gamers, it’s rather more seriously suggesting all world leaders should be strategy gamers, get with the times. I’m a big fan of the idea of treating all little scenarios in life as a game, as well as treating life itself as a huge macro-game. It both lets you take a step back from the ‘seriousness’ of the issue to analyse how you can beat it and in your head lets you set up parameters to fully understand it. And it makes the whole experience of life more enjoyable. No Game No Life takes the idea of this and literally applies it which inspires me to apply it to more areas of my life than I am already doing, thinking about the grand strategy of my entire life, approaching little problems by thinking up ways to solve them like it is a game, and making the right choice based on all the information available to me.

That’s where my assertion springs from, fans of strategy games already spend much of their free time thinking how to beat scenarios and considering all of their options, while world leaders play a real-life dangerous strategy game on a huge level and so would benefit from having the experience in their quiet time. And I’m certainly not saying this because I believe people who play strategy games to be world leaders in waiting, although they really are, just look at all of the pretend genocide they indulge in on games like Civ. And I mean complex games, games that make you think about how to beat them, games you can find great opponents in to test your mind and make sure it never goes dull. Chess and other classic wargames have been popular court examples in history, I don’t think their importance should be underestimated in the modern world, although it may just amount to two leaders showing their poker face to each other across the Atlantic. All leaders should know how to play the game and win, or they will die.

Success, I turned a post about No Game No Life into Game Of Thrones. This went places I didn’t quite expect. But great anime and I love the logical steps and I am definitely calling for a cultural revolution to make ‘have banked thousands of hours on Paradox interactive games’ a mandatory requirement to be the head of government of a sovereign state.


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