As I said before, life essentially amounts to a game. But there are also different levels of games. To start off, there are games involving women when you are young and at the age of puberty. Then, there are games of chance such as cards and gambling when you are a little bit older. For those who are physically able and fit, there are sports games. Also, there are money games such as currency exchange, investment, and stocks when you have reached adulthood. Finally, there is “The Great Game.” After exhausting all other games and when one is left searching for a real adrenaline rush, one finally arrives at “The Great Game.” And although “The Great Game” is much more dangerous and riskier than all other games, it is also the most exciting, intellectually stimulating, and satisfying of all games, especially for people with high intelligence quotients (IQ).
Thus, there is a “Great Game” for peculiarly ambitious people and wonks, and there are lower-level games for those who are not as crazy and wonky. And for crazy and wonky people, there are different ways of participating in “The Great Game.” But to start, one has to actually define the term “Great Game” in order to navigate through the game. One of the most workable definitions of “The Great Game” I was able to find was the one provided by the 20th century British diplomat and historian E.H. Carr. In a book titled Nationalism and After, Carr defined “The Great Game” as “determining the number, functions, and boundaries of the national units exercising authority” within the game.
In turn, “The Great Game” has both challenges and opportunities, as well as strategies and objectives just like any other game. Also, the challenges, opportunities, strategies, and objectives change over time, given that everything in the international system is in a state of flux. Nevertheless, one of the basic assumptions of “The Great Game” is that the primary “units” within the international system are states. Within the arena or framework of the international system, states compete and struggle to achieve their respective objectives and goals. Thus, beneath the international level is the state level, and beneath the state level is the individual level. Although the state represents the individual, the individual does not represent the state.
As a result, the individual can impact the game at both the international level and state level, and the impact of the individual largely depends on the wherewithal and will of the individual to impact the game. Many factors, such as strategic context, history, timing, logistics, psychology, as well as other factors figure into the contributions and impact of an individual on the game. There is also the question of whether the nature of the international system, states, or the individual impact the game the most. This was a question addressed most famously by the late American political scientist Kenneth Waltz and his famous “Levels of Analysis.” Many Western political theorists believe that the nature of the international system impacts the game more than anything else.
But history also demonstrates that the individual can leave their mark as well. Thus, individuals can participate in the game without having to participate from within the confines of a state which is acting within the broader context of an anarchic international system. Moreover, individuals who participate in the game outside of the confines of a state have individual strategies, objectives and goals, in addition to the immense challenges as well as the opportunities for the implementation of their respective strategies and ultimately the achievement of their individual objectives and individual goals.