Paradice

“Paradice is interactive art, a game of give and take. Players explore decisions made in response to changing circumstances and engage with the contradictions of competing needs.”

Interactive art? At almost $200, it better be art! And fun, too.

It is my honor to be able to inform you that Paradice is both.

The pieces. You have to see them in the light to really appreciate how the hand-poured resin seems to shine with its own internal brilliance.

The game. You have to play it. Because playing it completes the artwork. Which means you have to read the rules. And learn about the pieces. Pieces that have names like: Opportunity, Circumstance Changer, Human Being, Forest Spirit, the Rainforest, Palm, Coniferous and Deciduous trees. Yes, that’s correct, Forest Spirit. It’s clearly a strategic game, with some element of chance (Opportunity looks and acts exactly like a round die). But then there’s the thing about being either the Giver or the Taker. And only the Giver can win. So if you’re the Taker you might think that your only purpose in life is to keep the Giver from winning. Until you are able to internalize the strategic implications of the rule that at any moment, depending on the roll of Opportunity, you might have to change roles entirely.

As you continue playing, the whole game seems filled with light and delight. You finally see through the game (Paradice being only the first product of a company called “See-Through Games”), and begin to perceive the artist himself, John O’Neill. “John O’Neill,” begins his artist’s statement page, “is an artist committed to the realignment of art with society in forms that people can appreciate and afford. He pursues the synthesis of artistic inspiration with insight into the human situation.”

He is also a friend of mine. Which, in the case of this review, is a mixed blessing. I am not as impartial as I should be – not enough to actually give this game a Major Fun Award. And because I have the honor to know him personally, when I see through Paradice to the artist, I see someone of vision and integrity and an abiding love of life.

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