All people play games. It’s in our nature. We do it at the grocery store, in our minds, with our spouses, with people we don’t like and those we love—it’s a fundamental part of how we make it through. But, writers often leave the game-playing out.
One of the most effective and efficient, not to mention resonant, ways of allowing readers to have their own experiences amongst our words, is to allow our characters to play the games they know so well. We all do it.
If a camera were watching us, we’d know it’s a game to hide, poke, avoid, distract, comfort, loosen up, etc. That intention in the context of a game allows writers to bypass intellect and go straight into the bodies of readers.
For instance, we can tell in a nano-second what people know about each other and how long they’ve known it by how well they play the game. Right?
The good news is that games are often already embedded in a text, if only the writer would peel off some of the words and let the characters have at it.
Try it. How’d it go?