Earlier this year I read about Loren 'Sparky' Schmidt and Anna Anthropy's game, Drink, and I immediately became fascinated. Get this: in Drink, you play a drinking game against a computer opponent. Yes, a computer opponent. It sounds kind of absurd, to try to out-drink a computer, I know. But, if nothing else, it's a conceptually interesting game—here is Anthropy talking about it on her blog:
We really liked the idea of a quantity that has different meaning in the game and outside of it: the virtual opponent's shotglasses stack up, but she's a computer and the same amount of drinks have a very different consequence to a human player. we liked the ambiguity of performing a physical endurance contest against a virtual opponent: how can you tell how close she is to losing, or if it's even possible for her to lose at all?
Very cool, but it wasn't until yesterday that I decided to actually try it out. I was joined by game developer Porpentine, which meant the game became a slightly more competitive thing: would either of us sport better endurance against the computer? Also, through her involvement I was able to suss out one potential partner should the world require us to go into battle against the machines.
But, um. Anyway.
I had a couple of rules going in to make sure the game was safe—didn't want to get alcohol poisoning or something. This is especially important when you consider that Anthropy says the computer has a 'high tolerance,' and may even be a 'massively socially irresponsible' game in its current form.
When I tested out the game beforehand—without any alcohol, to see what kind of tolerance we were talking about—the computer took 14 shots before passing out.
Four. Teen. Shots.
I'm a firm believer in YOLO, but the game could be dangerous. YOLO is not code for "let's be stupid," despite what you may have heard. #truth!
So the rules were that we should be aware of our limits and must not be afraid to bow out of the game should we feel that we were crossing them. Also, the shots wouldn't be full. Personally, I also ate a heavy meal beforehand, which helps. And finally, chasers would be allowed, as would trips to the bathroom, dancing, or whatever you needed to do between shots to make the next one go down a little easier.
Which is to say, if YOU decide you want to play this game: proceed with caution and be careful. Hangovers aren't pleasant, nevermind alcohol poisoning.
We set up a projector so that the other folks at the party could look on while we played, though there isn't much to look at. All it involves is taking a drink, pressing a button, watching the alien-thing opponent take a shot, and then doing it all over again until one of you loses.
Honor system, obviously. The game has no way of checking if you're actually drinking. But if it helps to the veracity of the story, one of Drink's developers was in the audience, Loren 'Sparky' Schmidt.
Other folks who witnessed the game's creation/initial play testing become alarmed that we are playing it.
We also note that the alien looks like a dog with an eyepatch. Huh.
Still going strong. Porpentine starts Tweeting.
I start thinking of the alien as the dog from Duck Hunt, partially out of resentment.
I confess that I actually rather hate the taste of alcohol. Porpy makes fun of me.
Porpentine is starting to get belligerent, if not philosophical.
I have to take a bathroom break.
Beginning to worry if the dog will take like 20 shots this time, and not something 'small' like fourteen. I start making the shots smaller, which is cheating but... let's not forget that the f*cking dog isn't drinking! Also, it's not like we don't take the opportunity to exploit the limits of AI in most of the games we play anyway.
(She was joking around about the alcohol poisoning, to be clear.)
We notice the dog is starting to wobble. Huh, cool. Our resolve strengthens a tad.
YEEEEEEEEAH SCREW YOU DOG we hella cheated but WHATEVER WE WON