Constraints are Fun

We often complain about the constraints in our lives. Not enough time, not enough money, limited education, connections or experience.

But why do we let them get us down? Every interesting game is born out of constraints. Sports like basketball and volleyball force the players to operate within boundary lines. Olympic events like weightlifting and long jump are constrained by human strength and capacity.

While I was in junior-high, the game of the day was “bloody knuckles,” when participants attempt to keep a quarter spinning, and the person who makes it fall is punished with pain as the quarter is flicked into their exposed knuckles. On the outside, it sounds stupid. Why would anyone want to play a game like that? But quarters isn’t the only game where losers are punished with pain. Look at hand-ball, paintball, or dodgeball.

The fact is, pain is a constraint of life and games are born to allow us to play on the edges of all constraints. It doesn’t matter if the constraint is human balance, reaction time, finite resources, finite space, or the finite capacity of the human stomach. If there is a constraint, we’ll find a way to have fun with it.

What if we looked at our own constraints as interesting games and puzzles to be solved?