Gaming the System. Are you Playing or Paying?

got game?

When I was about 10, we flattened a bunch of bottle caps with a hammer. Then we trimmed them down to the size of a quarter with some heavy-duty scissors. We took a pocketful of these slugs down to the local coin-op car wash and had the waterfight of the century. For free. We gamed the system.

Picture yourself stuck in traffic on a busy stretch of highway. Someone speeds past you in the off-ramp lane. But at the last second, instead of taking the off-ramp they cut into your lane. In front of you and 30 other cars. You just got gamed.

Everybody Games

Somewhere, somehow, for some reason we’ve all gamed some system. Gaming something is an adrenaline rush. It has elements of risk, of secret knowledge, instant riches, and the best part … a great story to tell to your friends.

The allure is huge. Every time you turn around, someone is gaming something. And even if you’re 110% against it … wouldn’t you like to game the gamers? Just once.

How to Play the Game. Any Game

I’m not going to tell you NOT to game anything. After all, I did game a car wash when I was 10. And that guy that screamed past you in the off-ramp lane? It might have been me. Probably wasn’t, but I wouldn’t put it past me.

You’re going to do it anyway. So here are some commonsense rules for gaming the systems of the world to make sure you keep your stick on the ice

  1. Game the people that everyone wants to game. That’s what the MIT Blackjack Team did. They devised a way to beat the blackjack tables and pulled millions of dollars out of the casinos. Not everything stays in Vegas.
  2. Be humble. Save the action-packed stories for your friends. While you’re playing, someone else is paying. So, getting the word out to everyone about how you gamed someone is just asking for a slapdown.
  3. Game for the good guys. Kevin Mitnick, probably the most well known computer hacker in the world, now runs his own security company.
  4. Be the real deal. You can create a lot of success by phreaking all the rules. But it’s scattered and transient. There’s a ceiling to what you can accomplish by gaming the system because your victories are always tarnished in some way. And the truth is, successful people create success no matter what they’re doing. By being the real deal you can accomplish much bigger things.

Game on.

2 thoughts on “Gaming the System. Are you Playing or Paying?”

  1. Really interesting post. You’re right about being humble, otherwise everyone will try to game you back!

    Gaming is best when it doesn’t adversely affect other people in the system.
    A recent traffic related example of mine:
    There is a busy intersection near my local shopping centre where everyone tries to do a u-turn. Often you have to wait two or three sets of right arrows (in Aus) to get through and it’s a major pain in the arse.

    So instead I turn left at the intersection, do a quick u-turn in the side street and come back straight back out with the right arrow. In the meantime all the other cars are stuck waiting to u-turn!

    I know it’s hard to picture, but if you understand my description, you should try it too!

  2. Hey Andy,

    I know exactly what manoeuver you’re talking about. You just have to switch right for left to picture it here!

    That’s a really good example of gaming the system in a way that doesn’t cost anyone else anything.

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