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By Brittany Young
Before the internet, playing on the computer meant the pre-installed Microsoft games. Solitaire, hearts, freecell, and the ever-elusive minesweeper. You know, the one where you click randomly until it explodes because no one actually knows how to play it.
Many years later I learned how to play minesweeper. Turns out there's a strategy and the numbers actually have a meaning. Each box can have a number, mine, or nothing. The number denotes how many mines surround the spot. For instance, a 1 means there is one bomb in the eight squares surrounding the 1. A 2 means there are two bombs. And so on.
The strategy is to figure out through logic where the mines are before clicking on one and losing the game. You have to click around a bit, however, to get a decent patch of numbers before the reasoning can begin. It's like poking a sleeping dragon with a stick to find its pressure points, only losing doesn't have any true consequences.
I'm no expert, but I've become quite skilled at the strategy of the game. Deduction and induction of numbers and potential mines allow me to win the games. I still lose more than I win, but that won't stop me from continuing to try. The mines are everywhere and the only way to get better is to continue to try to avoid them.
Avoid the mines and win the game. Find all of the safe places and only go to those. Do not accidentally set a mine off or it's game over. Straying from what is logically acceptable is wrong. Learn the rules and the unwritten strategy. The numbers show how many potential triggers surround any given spot. Some spots have more triggers than other. Those numbers are trigger warnings about the stability of a place.
Watch for the warning signs and win the game by not stepping in the wrong spot. Minesweeper is life, the mines explosions, so stick to the safe places after carefully feeling-out the environment. If you lose, the mine explodes.
And so do you.
Exert all your mental endurance on avoiding potential conflicts and live in fear of the next explosion. The numbers show the instability of everything around you. No one is safe from one wrong move. Use precision in your moves and think through the possible outcomes before taking any action.
Your every thought is about playing it safe. Paralyzingly fear overtakes you when you realize that it's nearly impossible at times to figure out what moves are safe and which ones will wreak havoc. How can anything like that be correct?
Does anyone really know how to play this game?
Can you really win? Or is it just a matter of not failing?