Lose/Lose – The Game That Deletes Your Files


Screw Wargames: Lose/Lose is a little art game with an incredibly apt title – the only way to win, is not to play.

This is the sort of post that once upon a time would have been fodder for Alt+Escape, but I cannot in good conscience recommend that people actually play this game.

Lose/Lose is an art game that aims to instill in-game actions with real-life consequences. In real life, shooting somebody means that you’ve ended a life; you’ve broken a family or killed somebody’s best friend, but in the game there’s none of that effect – they’re just little ones and zeroes, right? Lose/Lose attempts to do away with that – every time you shoot down an alien starship, the game will randomly and permanently delete a file (any file) from your hard drive. If you get shot down, the game will delete itself.

Here’s what the creators had to say:

Lose/Lose is a video-game with real life consequences. Each alien in the game is created based on a random file on the players computer. If the player kills the alien, the file it is based on is deleted. If the players ship is destroyed, the application itself is deleted.

Although touching aliens will cause the player to lose the game, and killing aliens awards points, the aliens will never actually fire at the player. This calls into question the player’s mission, which is never explicitly stated, only hinted at through classic game mechanics. Is the player supposed to be an aggressor? Or merely an observer, traversing through a dangerous land?

Why do we assume that because we are given a weapon an awarded for using it, that doing so is right?

By way of exploring what it means to kill in a video-game, Lose/Lose broaches bigger questions. As technology grows, our understanding of it diminishes, yet, at the same time, it becomes increasingly important in our lives. At what point does our virtual data become as important to us as physical possessions? If we have reached that point already, what real objects do we value less than our data? What implications does trusting something so important to something we understand so poorly have?

That’s some heavy stuff right there. The game itself can be found here, with a list of the top scores (the best being someone who has vaporized 99 files on their computer), but again – and I cannot emphasize this enough – play this game at your own risk.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

About the author