Wake Up In A Horror Movie? Here's What You Need To Know...
On March 17th, 2017, we finally get to see The Belko Experiment, a collaboration between writer James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) and director Greg McLean (Wolf Creek). It's a meeting that horror fans thought would result in Olympus-shattering thunderbolts and earthquakes, but they managed to deliver us the story of what happens when the workers in a high rise office are given a deadly game to play: kill or be killed. Also, Casual Friday is probably over.
It's the latest film in cinema's greatest genre: movies about involuntary battles to the death. But what if it was you in those movies? What if you found yourself locked in combat with a guy that was a stranger or friend literally four seconds ago? Well, thanks to game theory, Cracked has the answer to those questions. Listen to us, and you might just make it out alive. Or at least into the sequel.
There are two big things to establish when you find yourself trapped in Jigsaw's tool shed. 1) You don't know exactly how many participants are going to be against you, and 2) You won't find out about all of the factors at the very beginning of the game. Jigsaw has a nasty habit of revealing that, aha! that guy wasn't actually dead/ was on my side/ was secretly me, etc. He also loves to reveal, right in the middle of things, that the key that your group was looking for was ACTUALLY hidden in someone's stomach the whole time. That person had burritos for dinner.
Good luck with that.
It's safe to say that, among the people currently shouting "LET US OUT OF HERE," one is going to be bad through and through and will pull the rug out from under any attempt the final people make to escape. They are playing by the Strictly Dominate Strategy in game theory which states that they will always make the move that benefits them, regardless of how it hurts everyone else. So making pals is not an option. You'll be tempted. The guy with the sad backstory or the single mom that just wants to get home to her kids is going to sound awful convincing. You'll chat with them, and you might even light a "we're all in this together" cigarette to share, but there's a decent chance, especially as people drop off, that they're going to be the ones that eventually leave you screaming behind a locked door.
However, Jigsaw is all about morality. He's like Freddy Kruger as a Sunday School minister. So, your best chance is to remain neutral at all costs. Your greatest gain will come from the appearance of trying to help other people make gains. Oh, that person "just can't take it anymore"? Scream encouragement from across the room. Jigsaw doesn't give you weapons, he makes traps. Thus, a good ninety percent of what's going to happen here is because someone got too emotional in either trying help out or get on top of the game, and fell into a bed of hypodermic needles. To remain thoroughly without needles, you must remain a passive player. So while you need to pretend to be an agent of passive optimism, always know that your part will come and you need to be prepared to be ruthless.
Give a metaphorical hand, not your literal ones.
The student-teacher ratio in Jigsaw's game is very good, so most of the traps will be personalized. That means that the code that undoes the reverse bear trap that's about to explode your face is somewhere hidden in your own thigh meat. As long as you can stay alive long enough to dig into yourself, you should be cool. This isn't a game where your success absolutely negates someone else's so it isn't zero sum. However, your success might piss off the drug dealer or hitman stuck in the room with you. What you have to do is wait for your turn, and then skedaddle.
The Hunger Games
As one of the rich guys (with names like Fundank Groincakes and Lazarus Picadilly) in multicolored coats will tell you, the Hunger Games are a chance for glory, recognition, and oddly unsatisfactory monetary reward. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that you just clubbed a bunch of teenagers, but something makes that money feel a little ... dirty.
There are twenty-four tributes from twelve districts, and there can only be one winner. Yes, at the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta threatened a double suicide until the organizers relented and declared two people from the same district as victors, but there's an overwhelming chance that you're not Katniss, and a slightly worse chance that you're not Peeta. You probably won't get to that dual survival moment, if you even make it that far. You, or the other person from your district, is going to have to eat it.
If it's between you or them, you are going to need to give them the one finger salute.
Even without factoring everyone's particular strengths and weaknesses, there is a 4.16 percent chance of victory. And in the beginning, with everyone rushing toward the horn-shaped, weapon-filled "Cornucopia" building, those chances become totally random. What if you've trained for the past month to grab the spiked mace, only to watch the jerk from District 7 run away with it? And if you're trained with any kind of long range weapon, those first few minutes are going to be the most dangerous, because bows work way better when you're twenty feet away from someone than knee deep in their personal space.
Those first few minutes are going to be a bunch of people swinging wildly with weapons possibly not built for swinging wildly. Your odds of winning, or at least not being decapitated by multiple ubiquitous swords become way better if you can train in something long range, and immediately leave the frenzy. If you try to do your dystopian warrior-slaying in the big melee, your chances are basically randomized. Learn how to use a bow and get the hell outta dodge. Then pick people off as they try to figure out what to do with a little dagger in a massive jungle. If it helps, repeat "I'm Jennifer Lawrence. I'm Jennifer Lawrence" to yourself.
It always helps us, in any situation.
Your time machine broke before you could meet a Triceratops and you're stranded in ancient Rome. No one else said "I'm Spartacus," so you've found yourself locked in a dungeon, waiting to fight other dudes for the amusement of a deranged emperor. You try not to think of how pissed off Doc Brown is going to be, but you can't help but see his disappointed face every time you close your eyes.
But not all hope is lost.
For the sake of keeping it simple, let's assume that you're going to be armed with a sword and shield, and that you have the upper body strength necessary to properly use both of those things. This scenario might alienate those that have completely replaced dumbbell curls with a steady workout of Cheetos and anime, but let's be real here. The organizer of the game is going to see the Slim Jim-stained Ultimate Spider-Man t-shirt and decide that that dude would look way better being eaten by tigers than by actually fighting in his precious arena.
Which is fine with the tigers, as years of video games, Netflix, and delivery have left your meat like human veal.
There's no telling how many other people you're going to be facing. You might get a good Emperor who values one-on-one battles and honor above all else, or the STD-laden third son of Nero who just wants more bears. You probably won't know until you get out there, and while Russel Crowe could keep trouble away with his impenetrable Russel Crowe-ness, you have plain old human reactions to things, and the plain old human reaction to hearing "RELEASE THE SPEARMEN AND THE CROCODILE" is a pee-soaked toga.
Your best bet? Well you're probably handcuffed to another person so you're dealing with The Battle of the Sexes scenario from game theory. That doesn't mean you're fused to someone of the opposite sex, it just means you have no choice but work together because the other consequence is death. The best chance of success in The Battle of the Sexes is to establish yourself as the leader and make your decisions the final decisions. You may not know what you're doing, but surprisingly, if you pretend you do and leave that as the only option, you two will actually work better together. If you're forced to then fight that same person you're attached to somewhere down the road though, you're pretty much doomed.
This basically. You're not in the Crowe role.
The Running Man
The main character of The Running Man had the advantage of being Arnold Schwarzenegger. Movie character or not, he's built like someone tried to create a Scarecrow out of pure steak, and he's impervious to any kind of physical weaponry and also violent threats from white collar criminals. You're not Arnold Schwarzenegger, and if you are, we're really sorry. Please don't give us noogies until you ground our skulls into our necks.
In The Running Man, criminals are pursued on TV by designated "stalkers." The stalkers are trained in the art of murderin', so it doesn't matter what you did to be a criminal. You brought a fake ID scheme to a murder fight, and you are about to be outmatched in every way, unless those college Freshman taught you how to use multiple katanas at once. And you're not given any weapons, so that one archery class you took at Scout camp was all for nothing. You're starting at a pure disadvantage.
We don't even mean against the good ones. We mean against guys like Dynamo.
The only way to dig yourself out of the hole is to make friends with others. You don't get points for killing any of the dudes on your own team. If it was a video game, the "No Friendly Fire" option would be turned on. Get in a quick football huddle and "'Let's try not to be instantly slaughtered' on 3." And then hide. Hide everywhere. One of the flaws in the Running Man game is that they give you way too much space to hide in. Sure, the stalkers are trained, but it's going to take them a year-and-a-half before they can peek around every random hunk of metal in the area. Note to potential makers of futuristic battle lands: Maybe an entire abandoned factory, full of nooks and crannies, isn't the best thing to add when you're trying to provide entertainment to the bloodthirsty and attention-deficit middle aged.
Hide, and hope Jesse Ventura stays retired. You should be fine.
Critics have said that The Belko Experiment is "Office Space meets Battle Royale." The former is only about a battle to an emotional death, so it probably doesn't warrant an entry. But Battle Royale is the George Washington of flicks about confused people and the sharp objects that love them. A bunch of Japanese school children think they are taking a field trip when, in reality, they are being taken to participate in a "Battle Royale" where they have to fight to the death using a weapon that they had no hand in picking.
They never say in the movie if this winner killed everyone with the doll, but they don't not say it.
That brings us to two points: One) You're a Japanese middle schooler and have the strength of one. Two) You don't know what weapon you're going to get. The guy next to you might get a shotgun, and you'd be stuck with a small branch. But, you're middle schoolers, so there's a pretty good chance that, no matter what weapon you get, you won't have a clue about how to use it. Have you ever seen a twelve-year-old swing a longsword? Hopefully not, but let us tell you, it's not pretty. If you get stuck with the bag of marbles, and you see a dude with a crossbow, odds are you'll be able to rip that out of his dumb hands before he figures out that what he's holding isn't a weird harp.
Sure, there are going to be some middle schoolers that are a little more physically adept than the others. Everyone remember that one dude that could grow a goatee before we were even able to properly learn the Cha Cha slide. But they are few and far between. Let's assume that you probably won't run into them. So, you're stuck with your equally nerdy peers. You have to outlast your whole pre-algebra class. Do you just try to avoid them?
Should have let her copy you on the pop-quiz when you had the chance.
Sadly, the guys behind the Battle Royale tend to punish the people that just want to take naps while all the carnage is going on. You HAVE to participate, otherwise the exploding collar on your neck is going to go off and render you flesh-less, which is, by far, the worst way to be. And you have to last three days, so if you off someone and then say "Okay, guys. Filled my quota," boom, flesh-less. Under those conditions, how do you gain an advantage? Multiple people try to form gangs in the movie, and it doesn't work out for them at all. When you're twelve, you turn on people for liking Yu-Gi-Oh more than Magic: The Gathering. A killer island creates division regardless of bestie status.
"SAY PEPSI IS BETTER THAN COKE AGAIN! SAY IT ONE MORE TIME; I DARE YOU!"
How do you remain flesh-filled and remarkably non dead? You get to people before they ever get a chance to learn how to use their weapons. You familiarize yourself with the Matching Pennies scenario from Game Theory. It says that the only way to win when two people are guessing heads/tails on a coin flip against one another is to stay completely random. As soon as you show a preference for one or the other, the other player has a distinct advantage. So never stick with the same weapon. You're all starting form scratch anyway so there's no disadvantage to dropping a crossbow after one shot and picking up the flame thrower. The only way to win this game is to stay random and literally get rid of everyone else in the first day. That's an almost insurmountable amount of choking, but if your hands get tired, just remember that your limbs are going to be in different time zones if you start to whine.