Tetris as metaphor, and that moment just before ‘game over’ #climate #anthropocene

Thirty years ago I had a Tetris addiction. For those who have come late, Tetris was a very simple (but addictive – did I mention that)) game where you had to move and re-orient different shaped blocks so that they would fall “into place”.

If a whole row of blocks existed, it would wink out of existence, dropping everything above it down one place,, giving you more time. If you got it wrong – either from clumsiness or lack of time – a ‘hole’ would open up, and you wouldn’t be able to fill it until you had managed to clear the line above it. Bu that meant less gap for you from the top of the screen. And after a while, the blocks you were trying to re-orientate and/or move would fall faster and faster, giving you less time to orient, analyse, decide and act (OODA), and raising the likelihood of you misinterpreting or mis-placing blocks, creating less space for yourself…

So, a pretty rich metaphor tool for OODA, for simple problems and wicked problems (if not for super-wicked problems).

And over time, fatigue – in your eyes and fingers – kicks in (trust me on this).

And you can stave off defeat, and with luck and determination, you might be able to reverse a bad potentially-terminal situation. But that doesn’t buy you a lot of time or a victory parade, because the blocks keep falling and when you make a mistake, it has consequences….

And there comes a point where you have made mistakes and/or been unlucky and there are gaps that you will never plug, and the space you have to operate in is just too small. Even a holding pattern is impossible now, the end is near. And there is a brief brief moment, as the blocks come raining down, where you know that there’s no chance, that it is almost game over. And then the game is, indeed, over.

Welcome to the 21st century, that moment in human history.

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