Rules for 4Chan

by Andy Klaus
This woman is dressed in attire that says she's likely playing

This woman is dressed in attire that says she's likely playing "The Game."

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If you ever heard the words, "The Game" mentioned in hushed whispers at an anime convention or gathering of geeks, you've fallen for a "4chan" gotcha that has spread like a virus. The two words appear on signs, billboards and websites, sometimes as a graffito scrawl. The rules to the game are simple and if you are reading this article, you've already lost. Like all "4chan" memes, "The Game" is draped in long-standing controversy.

History of 4chan

The site "4chan" began as an English version of favored Japanese image board "2channel" and has since evolved into a location on which some of the most popular Internet phenomenon spawned, such as the ever-repeated Rick-Roll or "Lolcats." The content of "4chan" has influenced media from episodes of Family Guy to songs on Weird Al Yankovich's albums. Among the many social memes the site has cultured, few is as reviled as the often-cursed monstrosity called simply "The Game."

Origin of "The Game"

If you ask any self-proclaimed expert on "The Game" about its origin, you are likely to receive contradictory and often lewd stories of no real merit. In some cases, these same experts simply curse you and walk away leaving you wondering if you did something wrong - which unwittingly, you did. The truth is that "The Game" started as a social experiment on "4chan" to break traditional game theory. In traditional game theory, all games are viewed as interactions where a modeled result can be studied to improve success. "The Game" defies game theory with an inherent rule set that makes finding success as likely as finding a rational number when you divide by zero.

Rules of "The Game"

No formal written rules of "The Game" exist, but the players always agree on the basics. While it is not a rule, it is an accepted convention, that when referred to alone, "The Game" is denoted in quotes and capitalized. The first actual rule of "The Game" is that if you make someone think about "The Game," they lose. Making a target think about "The Game" can be overtly achieved, by stating "The Game" or showing them the words on a card or poster, or more subtly, by playing a song with the words within the lyrics. The second rule of "The Game" is for the target of "The Game" to acknowledge they have lost by saying "I lost the game" or simply, "I lost." In the cases where the recipient refuses to admit to it, the originator simply says, "You just lost the game."

"The Game" Controversy

The site "4chan" is infamous for inviting controversy and conflict. The loosely moderated nature of the website's content allows users to make posts often intended to incite the reader. "The Game" generates ire from most users who fall prey to its passing. However, some users claim that "The Game" can be won using logical arguments such as the oft-cited "Rule 34" exception. Clever users counter the claim of "You just lost the game" with "Prove it." As long as there are differences of opinion about the interpretation of "The Game," and if it can be won at all, conflict continually spawns in its wake.


  • Inquistr; "4chan /b/ goes after cat abusers, wins"; Duncan Riley; February 16, 2009

About the Author

Andy Klaus started his writing career contributing science and fiction articles to Dickinson High School's newsletters back in 1984. Since then, he has authored novels and written technical books for health-care companies such as VersaSuite. He has covered topics varying from aerospace to zoology and received an associate degree in science from College of the Mainland.

Photo Credits

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