Before Squid Game, before Escape Room, there was David Fincher’s The Game. The 1997 psychological thriller starred Michael Douglas as a rich asshole akin to Ebenezer Scrooge. His brother, played by Sean Penn, wants to sign him up for a game through a company called CRS as a birthday gift. He’s hesitant at first, but decides to sign up anyway. What does he have to lose? Turns out, a lot, as suddenly his whole world is turned upside down. It’s a great movie full of twists and a must-watch if you want your mind blown. But could you actually endure the titular Game? We’ll see…
You need to be rich.
I’m not talking the kind of upper middle class where you can afford two cars and an inground swimming pool. I mean the kind of rich where you only fly in private jets. So rich you get to buy your way out of every foible and still be able to buy a private island for your favorite dog.
And Nick (Douglas) is just that rich. Sure, his brother Conrad (Penn) gives him this experience as a gift, but he certainly isn’t paying for it. That’s all on Nick. And if you want to play the game, you’re going to need to afford to pay the hundreds of actors to pretend to be regular people, pay all the damages on any shenanigans, pay for your house to get destroyed…the bill’s going to add up fast.
You need to have a lot of people hate you.
Part of why the game works for Nick is that he doesn’t have a lot of people in his corner. It’s that Ebenezer Scrooge aesthetic–he has way more enemies than he has friends. In fact, he doesn’t really have any friends at all. There’s an ex-wife. There’s a guy he screwed over at work. There’s the brother he almost never sees. Nick is alone, which means he has no one to help him when everything falls apart–and that’s exactly what CRS wants.
You need to pass the psych eval.
The very first thing Nick is tasked with when he enters the CRS headquarters is a lengthy psych eval. Page after page of invasive questions about his mental health. While it’s partly used as a way for the company to annoy the hell out of him, it’s also integral to how they create Nick’s version of the game. They use his answers to tailor it to him. They also use it to see if he’s stable enough to even handle it. Without a proper psych eval, they wouldn’t have been able to pull off that absolutely bonkers twist ending–they tell him so themselves.
If you find yourself in a situation like The Game, make sure you answer the questions in your psych evaluation as honestly as possible. If you don’t, you’re in trouble.
You need to be predictable.
Even your unpredictability needs to be predictable. Because Nick is a known quantity, CRS knows exactly where he hides his gun. They know what he’d do if he wakes up in a grave in Mexico with nothing but his fancy watch. They know what he’d do when he has nothing left. I know you might pride yourself in your unpredictability, but this is one of those occasions where that’s bad news.
So, do you think you could do it? Or would you rather just leave the experience for Michael Douglas? Want a reminder of just how badass The Game truly is? You can check it out on Prime Video for free with ads thanks to IMDb TV.