Student Question

What games do Jimmy and Crake play, and what do these games reveal about their society and their personal impacts?

Quick answer:

Jimmy and Crake play a variety of computer games like digital chess, Blood and Roses, Extinctathon, and Barbarian Stomp. Most of the games they play reflect the destructive nature of humankind and portray a culture and society built on selfishness and artificiality. Even though the characters might not realize it, the games deeply affect their mental and emotional states.

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When Jimmy and Crake start hanging out, they decide to play various computer games and surf the internet. One of the games they play is digital chess; Jimmy suggests that they should get a real chessboard, but Crake tells him that the only real version of chess is the one that we play in our heads. Chess is a strategic game in which the winner wins because of intellect and foresight, which is why Crake enjoys it. Their chess games are interesting, because in a way they symbolize their relationship—Jimmy will realize in the end that he was nothing but a pawn in Crake's evil and manipulative mind game.

They also play a game called Blood and Roses, which is similar to Monopoly; the "blood" represents all of the bad things that humanity has done, such as genocides, murders, crimes, wars, and other human atrocities, while the "roses" represent human achievements such as art, scientific breakthroughs, innovations, and creations. The player rolls a virtual die, gets either "blood" or "roses," and makes a trade—an atrocity for an achievement, or an achievement for an atrocity. In the end, the player who has the most human achievements wins.

The problem with the game, however, is that it's easier to remember the "blood" than the "roses," and the the "blood" player is often the winner. The game affects the players' subconscious; Jimmy and Crake both become so immersed in the game and hoping to win it that they forget that they're basically playing with humanity's suffering. They do not care about the people who lost their lives or were harmed during these events—this is all just a fun and entertaining game for them. Even Jimmy, who is more empathetic and compassionate, forgets about mankind's struggles for a moment and focuses on the game. Crake, on the other hand, being the emotionless psychopath that he is, argues that this is actually the beauty and the point of the game.

Next, they play a game called Extinctathon, in which the players are required to have great knowledge about extinct species. In this game, Crake and Jimmy come up with their aliases—Crake and Thickney, which are extinct Australian birds. Jimmy is not overly affected by the game, as he sees it as a battle of knowledge; however, Crake is very invested in it, because it reflects his grand plans to bring humanity to the brink of extinction. He wishes to become a grandmaster because he believes that if he beats the game, his plan to wipe out almost the entire human race will also be successful.

Finally, they play a game called Barbarian Stomp, in which there are two sides—the barbarian side and the civil side. The two sides battle each other; in the end, the loser is stomped. Similarly to Blood and Roses, the game is based on violence and requires the players to behave emotionlessly and with a sense of indifference to aggression and destruction.

The games Jimmy and Crake play and the websites they visit, as well as their actions and opinions, essentially showcase how the characters have grown up in a dystopian society that is the product of a flawed system—a past culture that was so obsessed with consumerism, materialism, and selfishness that it completely reshaped the mindset of all humanity and reconstructed civilization's core values.

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What kinds of games do Jimmy and Crake play in Oryx and Crake? What does this tell you about the culture of the society that they live in? How do these games affect them?

Jimmy and Crake play several different types of games. As you might remember, a trait that links the games together is that they’re all played on a computer. Even chess—a game that can be played with a material board and physical pieces—is played on a computer. Besides chess, the other computer games Jimmy and Crake play include: Extinctathon, Three-Dimensional Waco, Barbarian Stomp, and Kwiktime Osama.

You can probably draw many different conclusions about what the games say about the world of Jimmy and Crake. You might argue that the games spotlight the isolated nature of the two boys. It’s almost as if they’re not a part of real society. It’s like their connection to the Compound diminishes their physical, material perception of the world.

You might also have noted how some of the games allude to America’s violent past. You could link Three-Dimensional Waco to what happened in Waco, Texas in 1993. You could connect Kwiktime Osama to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and the violence he helped mastermind in America on September 11, 2001. In the world of Jimmy and Crake, it’s as if these events turn into a form of entertainment. They’re so secluded from the world and its corporeal consequences that they’re able to disconnect violence from its tangible reality.

Yet I don’t think you could say that Jimmy and Crake are completely apathetic or unfeeling. They still have emotions, as evinced by Jimmy’s reaction to the girl on the child pornography site.

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