Single player mind game: The Mugging Game

By » Sun, November 13 2011
3313315497 838acff7a6 Single player mind game: The Mugging Game

You don't need to look like this to play. (image by Scratchdaddy)

There are surprisingly few Google hits for “would you mug *”, which I guess is a good thing. Maybe people don’t play these kinds of games. But I don’t believe it. I think it means that most people are too polite to admit that they do this.

I’m talking about what I call “the mugging game”. You don’t actually mug anyone, so don’t worry. Here’s how it works: find a particular individual in your environment (work, club, commute, grocery store) and decide whether or not you would mug them. Here are some rules:

  1. Assume the target has a nontrivial amount of stuff that you want (money, food, whatever)
  2. Assume ideal mugging conditions (so you don’t decide not to mug someone because “it’s too public in this coffee shop.”)
  3. You have to make your decision in under 30 seconds

What does the game look like in real life? In my experience, it looks like me and some friends in a public place pointing people out to each other and then saying “yes” or “no”. I’ve played by myself, but it’s not as fun. Why? Because we haven’t gotten to the cool part, yet.

After a few minutes of practice, when you’re feeling comfortable making snap decisions about violently robbing people, you can start asking yourself (or your friends) what led to the decision. At first, answers will be vague (“I don’t know, he just looked like a victim.”) or based entirely on physical appearance (“Super tight pants. Nowhere to hide a weapon.”).

Keep playing, and you’ll start paying attention to little things. Some people look alert or strong or unpredictable, so you’ll decide “no”. Some will look oblivious or compliant so you’ll decide “yes”.

2315065223 65a804af44 450x434 Single player mind game: The Mugging Game

Definitely a

This brings us to the final stage: turning the game back on ourselves. After playing this game for a while with friends, I started paying attention to how I could be perceived. I try to remain a little more alert, a little more watchful, a little more condition yellow.

Since I started playing this game, I haven’t been mugged. But I have had lots of interesting conversations and positive interactions with random strangers. And I’ve slowed down when someone who looks predatory seems to be playing their own internal mugging game with someone who looks like prey.

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