It started out simply: a group of friends, post-dinner-party boredom, and a computer. It escalated from there into friends-against-friends warfare and furious mouse-clicking.
I don’t know whether I’m ashamed or strangely proud to admit a bunch of 20-year-olds were fascinated by an online encyclopedia for two hours.
You can debate the legitimacy and research-source-worthiness of Wikipedia all you want, but as a game and time-wasting tool – especially when you want to procrastinate finding real, worthy research sources, but still feel like you’ve accomplished something – there is no more legitimate, more worthy (and, probably, more unexpected) website.
It was last December, and a group of friends and I had just finished a nice (save my failed twice-baked potatoes, but that’s for a different time), pseudo-fancy “dinner party,” and we were bored. We were in food comas, it was too cold to go outside, and there wasn’t much on TV – the entertainment possibilities were limited, to say the least. But it was early, and to go home already would have been to admit defeat and lameness. Then again, I’m still not sure if surfing Wikipedia at a party still makes us lame or not.
Anyways, “Six Clicks to Jesus” saved the day.
It’s a deceivingly simple premise, a friend explained: Begin at the Wikipedia homepage and click the “Random Article” link on the sidebar. Said link will take you to your beginning page. From there, the game is exactly how it sounds – using the links within the articles to go from page to page, you have up to six clicks to get to the page on Jesus (and no, the pages on God, The Holy Spirit, Allah, Yahweh, etc. don’t count). Bonus points on the non-existent scoreboard if you make it there in less than six.
Were the “random article” link to lead to you a page on the Bible, or Jerusalem, or Christianity, you’re golden. But when you land on the page about York Peppermint Patties or shopping malls, you’ve got a long way to go in those six clicks.
Needless to say, we all had to prove we could conquer the vast Internet wasteland that is Wikipedia. And so the game evolved into a new-fangled, technology-driven party game. The group divided into two teams, and it became a race – each team begins on the article assigned via the “random article” link and must click their way to a previously-designated page before the other team. Winners get bragging rights – at least until the next round ends – and get to choose the next ending page.
Don’t go trying this game out just yet; you click away from me now, I’ll never get you back. I know it, because I’ve fallen victim to Wikipedia’s charms many a time. Even when I’m by myself, I get caught up – head over to look up the meaning of Semisonic’s “Closing Time” (I’m telling you this because I want you to do it; the lyrics don’t mean what you think they do.), and, an hour and a half later, I’m on the phone with my friend, telling him all the cool facts I’ve learned that have somehow led me to the page on printers. Forget school; Wikipedia’s taught me an awful lot of useless things I’ll never need to know, except for in a game of Trivial Pursuit.
I’d love to have my own Wikipedia page someday. Or, rather, because anyone can create a Wikipedia page, I want to be able to create a page about myself without it getting flagged for removal. Then, you know you’ve made it.
I’ll make sure there’s a really easy, direct link to Jesus’ page, too.