Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ignorance Sucks

Not knowing things irritates me. I may be in the minority on this.

Exhibit A: Snaps

Last sukkot I was introduced to the bar puzzle/game Snaps, one of those hilarious "in-the-know" games enjoyed by the people who know the rules and supposedly challenging and frustrating for those who don't. The game is allegedly about trying to guess a word given clues by one player, but it's actually about figuring out how the clue system works. Something to do with snapping fingers.

To some people, this is entertaining; if you're one of those people, don't clink on the above link. I was simply irritated. You would think that a game-player like me would be interested in trying to figure the game out, and I was for about four minutes. After that I got bored and wanted the answer.

The person leading the game was not tuned into this; he thought it was unsporting to give away the answer, so he just kept playing new words. After unsuccessfull trying to persuade him that I was no longer interested in guessing, I used my smart phone and looked up the answer. This might be construed as cheating, except that I never agreed to participate in the game in the first place.

Exhibit B: Books (and films, and other media)

I enjoy books, movies, etc a lot more when they've been "spoiled" for me. To me, the enjoyment from art isn't the anticipation and suspense of not knowing what is going to happen. It's from the artful way it is done. I've downloaded movies just to watch them at home before going to the cinema to see them. I read plot summaries online before reading a book, watching a movie, or even a television episode. If it's good art, I like to watch or read it more than once.

The term itself - "spoil" - implies that I'm out of touch with the common folk on this one. It's not spoiling to me; it's getting the plot out of the way so I can concentrate on the enjoyment of the media.

Exhibit C: Dice

For some, the anticipation of the unknown and uncontrollable is a thrill, for me it's a pain. I feel that the game is over right before the die is tossed: in the planning and the strategy that brought us to that point that matters. Once it's tossed, it doesn't even feel like playing to me anymore; it's like punishment. The win isn't exciting; the loss is irritating. It's a no win scenario for me.

Oddly, I don't mind at all when an opponent does something unexpected. In fact I love it; that's playing. I love talking to people who say unexpected things. In fact, I love the unexpected all over the place: random encounters in the real world, serendipitous discoveries in stores or on the radio.

In other words, I'm happy to continuously discover the interesting and good. Withholding knowledge just for the sake of withholding it is not my idea of fun.

1 comment:

Avraham Grief said...

A) I remember your Snaps column, it did sound like it would be annoying after a few minutes.
B) Knowing what will happen completely alters the experience of a film, and films are experiences. I remember watching Psycho with my wife when she saw it for the first time. Watching it with her was even a different experience for me because I didn't realize how powerful the plot twist was until I watched the movie with someone who didn't know what was going to happen.
C) I do enjoy games with luck. One of the more insightful explanations I've read about why people enjoy luck in games is here:
I do understand the feeling you get though. Strange as it may sound to you, I get that feeling from Bridge. I feel like once the cards have been dealt that the game is already decided and that people are just supposed to go through the motions of their predetermined bidding systems, and then execute (or watch, if you're the dummy) hands that largely play themselves. Of course, I've only played bridge a handful of times, and it is known as an acquired taste. Also, a person could rightfully describe any other card game in a similar fashion, and I do like a lot of card games. But that's the feel I get from Bridge and so that's how the game is to me.