slither.io, and a few thoughts on the unfairness of nature

048 May 3, 2016 -- (gaming cogitatio)

slither.io is quite possibly one of the best multiplayer games I have had the chance to play in the last months1. Come on, give it a try, it's free2.

It's a game where you play some sort of worm whose goal is to gather small balls which help you grow, where the worm's size is more or less the same thing as the score. The best part is however that you get to compete with other worms by killing them by getting them to bump into you. Once the player does that, he and/or other players may consume the dead worm's remains and thus grow eve[rn] larger.

This also makes slither.io a very unfair game3, because the beginning player, i.e. the small worm, will always share the same arena with the big guys, who can (very easily) and will consume him if they get the chance4. There is no way to escape this simple rule other than running like hell, just like in that Pink Floyd song.

And now is the perfect time to give the whole thing a few considerations of a more philosophical nature.

One. The game (that is, nature) provides resources for players (that is, entities with agency5) to use them to grow. Growing itself is both good (as it makes one less fragile) and bad (as it makes one slower, and possibly lazier), but regardless, the quantity of resources provided by nature is finite, and thus necessarily limited.

Two. Despite the socialist propaganda you may have been fed with in the last few decades6, within nature there will always be small worms and big worms. Never "equal" worms.

Three. All worms are born small. Some may inherit their growth from consuming greater dead worms; some will work their way up to becoming great; some will die before growing to a satisfactory7 level of greatness. Regardless, all worms that have been born will at some point cease to be.

Four. All worms are born small, but greater than nil. They all bring with them a small potential of turning nature's resources into something great; however, potential necessarily does not equal achievement.

Five. Working one's ass off to collect resources in order to achieve a certain level of greatness is a necessity. Fast slithers in order to turn fellow worms into an edible mass of resources is however unavoidable at times.

Six. The meek shall inherit nothing, just like in that Frank Zappa song8.

So remember, nature's unfairness is a good thing, because it might just give you that chance to get satisfactorily fat. Or, well, maybe not.


  1. From the moment of writing, at least. Who knows, you will have read it years later maybe.

  2. Minus the "share on social media" retardation. That aside, it's simple enough to be easily reimplementable by anyone who wishes to do so. This alone makes the concept behind it very valuable, although y'know, it's still more or less "free to play". All that in spite of all the years of "intellectual property" brainwashing Western media's tried to abuse people with. Oh well.

  3. Although probably not in any game theoretical sense. The only interesting observation that can be made from this point of view -- and I will leave the astute mathematician who reads this essay to verify my statement, if it's even demonstrable -- is that the game doesn't have any sort of equilibria.

  4. Just like in real life; who would have thought?!

  5. Human or not. To further elaborate on this; a lion may for example have agency in the sense that it can easily wipe out a population of sheeple if left to roam freely through the streets of insert city name here. However, it has the exact opposite of agency when I carry the damned gun. Or, to quote Dreamfall Chapters' Mr. London:

    A travelling salesman was advertising his wares. He sold weapons and armour. One day he came to a village where a great soldier lived.

    "This shield" said the salesman "is so strong that nothing can pierce it. It will protect a warrior from all harm."

    "This spear" said the salesman "is so sharp that it will pierce any armour, killing your opponent instantly."

    "How can it be" answered the great soldier "that you have a shield that cannot be pierced, and a spear that can pierce anything? The two cannot possibly coexist."

    So the salesman grabbed the shield and the spear. "It doesn't matter if the two can or can not coexist, motherfucker," he said, running the great soldier through, killing him.

    "When I'm the one wielding both."

    Do ponder a bit on the above.

  6. You "millenial", you.

  7. It's up to everyone to define what "satisfactory" means. In fact, if you're wondering why socialism is inherently evil (and doesn't work) is that it fools the poor into believing that being poor is ok. No it's not, not now, not ever, regardless of whether you're exploited by other men or by states.

    But more importantly, no one's ever going to give you anything for free. Everything -- fucking -- costs -- something. Absolutely everything!

  8. Here's a youtube for the curious reader.