‘Games We Play’: Rounding Up the Random, Subconscious Games Everyone Plays

These "semi-conscious fleeting games" usually don't come to life in daily conversation. But you'll be surprised that we all do them.

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When the landscape gets monotonous on a long drive (think: a seemingly endless line of evenly-spaced telephone poles next to a highway), it’s easy to mindlessly drift off into your own personal made-up game.

Ian Bennett’s car-ride diversion, as he narrates in his nowviral clip “Games We Play,” is imagining a character who could run just as fast as the vehicle and jump on in sight objects without setting foot on land. His sister’s version was to conjure a “long string slice through all the man-made objects: all the signs, all the buildings, all the cars” as they drove by.

Do these mundane games sound familiar? Yep, it appears so, judging by the YouTube response (more than 1.7 million views in just two weeks) to Bennett’s video of all the games created to pass the time while walking, driving or just sitting around in a room. Perhaps you have your own. These “semi-conscious fleeting games,” as Bennett dubbed them, usually don’t seem important enough to mention. Which could be why most people might not have thought about the fact that they’re so ubiquitous.

It took reading a certain Jack Kerouac road-tripping novel to jog his creativity to catalogue some of these games. As Bennett recently told The Atlantic:

I’ve always been fairly aware of these activities, but never discussed it with anyone. So I wrote down a list of these games and figured out a way to illustrate them visually. When I read the paragraph in On The Road which was almost the exact same game my sister played, I knew I was onto something.

“Games We Play,” the result of his musings, inventively visualizes a minds eye view of things like balancing on a railroad track, jumping to grab a tree branch, or tossing a ball as close to the ceiling as possible without hitting it. Using clever animation, we see each division on a sidewalk light up when a walker tries to avoid stepping on a crack and an actual string cutting through all those fence posts alongside the road. It’s like your mind’s eye has come to life. By the time the clip ends, you might see plenty of games that you’ll notice as your own. And that’s a scary thought.

(MORE: Road-Trip Completionist: Meet the Man Who’s Been to Every County in the U.S.)