THE GAME OF PASSPORTS
Introduction and Origins
I invented this game 20 years ago before PCs and social networking sites became commonplace and when companies didn’t generally interact with their customers through unintelligent software. In the interval the game has become easier to play and more relevant, and so it seems the time for a reissue.
Behind the game are two insights. The first is that there’s surprisingly little control over assuming a title or honorific to which you’re not entitled, provided you don’t use it to commit fraud or hold yourself out as a practising a regulated profession such as medicine. The second is that we present our identities to clerks and bureaucrats who have no personal interest in us or reason to check our credentials and don’t care if we call ourselves the Patriarch of Alexandria, provided the box on the form requiring us to stipulate a title is completed. The introduction of software to fulfil this role makes the point even clearer.
An incidental consequence of the Game is that it allows you to see who’s sharing your personal data and over what period (answer: a lot of people over a surprisingly long time). Recently, for the first time in many years, I received an invitation to buy discount gardening furniture or hand over the entirety of my wealth to someone who has my true interests at heart (I forget which) addressed to my clerical alter ego, a certain Reverend Gentlemen I invented for a credit card I held twenty years ago in my first flush of enthusiasm. Ah, a memento of youth!
Objective and scoring system
The object of the Game is to assume a title to which you have absolutely no right and have your claim recorded in some form of official document. The scoring system has three elements: (1) the title itself, graded into ten levels of difficulty; (2) the public record into which you’ve managed to insert your title – again graded by difficulty – and (3) bonus points for placing your title sooner rather than later within the time frame of the Game. Point (3) requires some explanation. The purpose is to encourage players to be bold and take the initiative rather than play safe to see what the other players have achieved and then copy it. Assuming you decide on a period of, say, 10 months over which to play the Game, a title placed in month one would gain 10 bonus points whereas one placed in month ten would gain only 1 bonus point. The final score is (1) x (2) + (3)
The Game is designed to be administered by a Game Master (“GM”) not only for reasons of co-ordination but because the number of titles that can be created depends on the relevant country and the power of human invention, so they can’t all be listed here. And, similarly, there seem to be an infinite number of systems for recording and compiling our data. Accordingly, in the following sections, against the various titles and public records, you should read “or equivalent”. The job of the GM is to grade any matter that doesn’t appear on the list. He/she/His Holiness also has to decide what evidence is sufficient to prove that the player has indeed established his claim to the title.
Lawyers are bastards.
Points are awarded for the following titles. It is a condition that you have no right to the title. Bonus points should be considered for assuming a title that belongs properly to the opposite sex. Some titles score low because they have been adopted by jazz musicians and come into common currency. The GM should freely reorganise titles and points as he feels appropriate.
1 Reverend – Captain – Chairman – Councillor – Deacon
2 Right Reverend – Major – Doctor [note: none medical] – Sister – Mayor
3 Sir – Honourable – Monsignor – Count – Duke – Prince
4 Bishop – Baronet – Dean – Prebendary – Rabbi
5 Marshal – sheriff – Abbot – Mother Superior – Commodore – Colonel
6 General – Admiral – Your Grace – Archimandrite
7 Lord – Lady – Porphyrogenete – President
8 Chief Lama – Archbishop – Cardinal – Field Marshal – Air Commodore – Grand Duke – Electoral Prince
9 King – Queen – Pope – Shogun – Holy Roman Emperor – Lord High Executioner
10 Shadow of God Upon Earth – Imperial Grand Wizard – Catamite of Satan – Reichsführer SS
(2) Qualifying record
Points awarded under the preceding section are multiplied by the factors below for their insertion into the relevant record as evidenced to the satisfaction of the GM. The factors are cumulative.
1 library card – bus/rail pass – store loyalty card – video rental card
2 council tax bill – electoral register – credit card – census return
3 Inland Revenue records – medical records
4 Passport – official identity card
5 Record of admission to H.M.Prison
6 List of acknowledged successors to the Chair of Saint Peter.
(3) Bonus points for time
Players must agree a fixed period at the end of which the final score will be counted and the winner declared. Once the period is set, the GM should fix appropriate bonus points for early successes.
It is important to note the fundamental condition that the titles be undeserved. Calling yourself Pope and having your name inscribed in the rolls of Saint Peter in principle scores 9 x 6 plus any bonus points and seems a sure fire winner. However, if you happen to be Benedict XVI, you score nil because you are in fact the lawful Pope. On the other hand, if the present incumbent manages to have the title Pope and Reichsführer SS engraved on his tomb… well I’m sure you get my drift. Unless of course he knows something the rest of us don’t.