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I was recently discussing Ender's Game in The Reading Room, and I mentioned that I reread it because I felt that there were things that I had not understood. One of these things is the Mind Game.

According to the game's Wikia page,

The Mind Game, also known as the Fantasy Game, was an advanced computer program that was played by Battle School Students. The Mind Game adapted to the interests of each student, and was used by the Battle School staff to analyze the student's personality and psychology.

Each student had their own slightly different flavor of the game, as it adapted to the thoughts and actions of each player. Card devotes a lot of time with Ender in his Mind Game, and when I read it in high school, I didn't understand much of it.

If I remember correctly, when Ender visits the Bugger world, he finds that the aliens had constructed a life-size replica of parts of the Game for Ender to find when he came to visit. He also had vivid dreams of playing different parts of the game while fighting the aliens (although I think the aliens had forged an ESP-style connection with Ender, and planted those dreams there. My memory of a lot of the finer details is a little fuzzy, and I don't have a copy of the book on hand.)

The only useful analysis that I found through a quick Google this morning was this side note in Shmoop's "A Short Note Before Starting":

If you haven’t read Orson Scott Card’s introduction to Ender's Game, you might take a look at it, if only for the part where Card says that he avoided all the literary tricks that make reading hard (Intro.32). [...] But that doesn’t mean that Card avoids symbolism. Mostly, it tends to mean that his symbolism is rather clear. For instance, when Ender’s character in the mind game can’t play on a playground, that kind of seems like a symbol for his lost childhood.

The Giant's Drink, especially, seems to be somehow important, but I can't figure out why. On one level, it's obviously a tool that Card uses to develop Ender's character (and ability to think laterally), but it seems to me (when I read the book years ago, and still today) that the dilemma, and Ender's solution, must have some other symbolic meaning, besides.

What is the symbolism of the Mind Game, and the various areas and activities therein (especially the Giant's Drink)?

  • A lot of the Google results for "Ender's game computer game" concerned the real-life computer game adaptation, for example gamespot.com/articles/enders-game-game-ended/1100-6285427. I didn't get a lot out of Google for this one, but maybe you will have more luck than I did. – Shokhet Jun 18 '17 at 15:58
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    For a question like this you'll have better luck with Google Scholar. (Why this tool isn't better known is a mystery to me). – user111 Jun 18 '17 at 16:55
  • @Hamlet Good idea. I use it all the time for medical/scientific papers; it never occurred to me to use it for literary analysis. I'll give it a whirl. – Shokhet Jun 18 '17 at 16:57
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the giants drink is the Kobayashi Simulation from Star Trek, which is an unwinnable battle involving a rescue attempt while engaging a superior force in close combat ; it is essentially a no-win scenario, which is a well-known concept. To touch on what stood out as the essence of the question, to study how the mind acts once it has 'divided by zero' or had a 'cascade failure'...testing the mind's plasticity seems to be the goal of the giants drink...brb still editing

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    Hey Ben, welcome to the site. You say that the Mind Game is like the Kobayashi Simulation, but to be perfectly frank I've never heard of that simulation. Can you edit your answer to add some detail about what it is, and how you're using it to explain the Mind Game? Also, there are plenty of part of the Mind Game (Ender spends a lot of time in the playground, for example); your answer seems to explain only the Giant's Drink. Am I right in assuming that's the angle you took with this? – Shokhet Jul 14 '17 at 22:08
  • I saw your edits, `@Ben, thanks. I'll be away from the site for a while, but if you need to tell me something or want to update me when your answer is complete, leave a comment here and add @Shokhet to it. – Shokhet Jul 14 '17 at 22:17

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