Argument Champion: Champion of the Internet

The Zeitgeist is near. That moment when something that so completely and accurately sums up the essence of all behavior, verbiage, and attitudes of everyone in a culture is so deafeningly close that I can barely hear myself think. How do I know it’s coming? Because whenever the Zeitgeist rolls around, it’s preceded by things that are increasingly meta.

And ARGUMENT CHAMPION is the most meta thing on the internet right now.

Argument Champion was created by bigblueboo labs during the second ever A Game by Its Cover Jam over the course of a month back in mid-2012. It’s a game about arguments, but more specifically it’s about the art of argumentation. Playing the game involves connecting words through a branching game that’s as devious as it is addictive, simply because it’s really just a stupid amount of fun to see what connections can be made from even the thinnest of correlations. But the meat of the game’s Hegelian sledgehammer is buried deep within its design.

You win arguments in Argument Champion by pandering to the crowd. Corax the Argument Demon (and your self-appointed Argument Mentor) bestows on each debater the ability to see the audience’s sentiment on various subjects. The audience might like September and hate Democracy, or love eating and hate bacon. Your personal opinions are moot; your goal and only desire is to win the argument. And to do this, you either pick a topic the audience loves and connect it to your points, or take a thing the audiences despises and connect it to one of your opponent’s points. By mastering this point-to-point tug-of-war, you come out on top as the winner of the debate. The fewer links it takes to make the connection, the more favor/disfavor is awarded for the maneuver.

And there’s such a simple beauty to it. Telling the audience “You like CAT, I like CAT. When I think of CAT, I think EYE. EYE is inextricably linked to PAIN. And you can’t say PAIN without saying DRUGS. Q.E.D. DRUGS and CAT are one and the same” and then having them throw you beautiful pixelated hearts is such a fun, explicit, easily digested reward that it propels the game forward with little effort. And crushing your opponent’s points with strident white X’s is just as satisfying. The combination of nonsense and playful explicitness are intoxicating enough, but there’s more.

The fact that winning an argument in Argument Champion has very little to do with the merit of your position is only the tip of this metonymic iceberg of a game. As you begin to face greater argument challenges, it becomes clear that there are many ways to win an argument; some are whimsical and goofy, some are reasonable and placid, and some are poisonously, unethically, and almost nuclear-powered-ly effective.  The former two methods are well-known in classical argumentation; the last one is the one that has been used to win every argument on the internet.

Argument Champion diligently tracks all the words used over the course of a match, creating an stylish and clean branching outline of these topics and their results. They all have the same parent thread, of course, which is the main point that is being argued. The thing is, in Argument Champion, there is no benefit (and no penalty) to picking a particular thread to debate on. Let’s say your opponent sees that you argued in favor of SILT on your quest to bolster your support for PIE, but the audience hates RIVERS and BROCCOLI. The next thing you know he slams you with a scathing remark about how SILT is the key ingredient in RIVERS and is also found in every piece of BROCCOLI. Or maybe your main point is CAT and one of its children may have been MAYONNAISE, and the audience just seems to love words like “FAT” or “SUNSHINE” or “SANDWICH”. This means that the best possible course of action is to stay as far away from CAT as you can, and instead talk about how MAYONNAISE is the best kind of FAT that you can put in your SUNSHINE SANDWICH. Who gives a flying fuck about cats. You are now an Argument Champion.

Now, get in this thread and try to convince bronies that they are indeed watching a show intended for young, mostly female viewers. Or don’t. I really don’t think it’ll make much difference either way.

Thanks to Zoe Quinn (@zoequinnzel) for tweeting about this or else I would have never know about this because I am a terrible journalist.