If you haven’t ever played the Wikipedia Game, then you’re in for a treat. Not only is it a fantastic form of procrastination, but you learn plenty along the way – and a new applet, one of many in fact, streamlines the entire wonderful experience for you.
You’ve all played the practice version of the game, for sure, even inadvertently. Starting on a page about the cataclysmic lateral blast that characterized the deadly May 1980 eruption of Mount St Helens, within a few minutes and a grand total of five (!) clicks, you’re reading about quantum mechanics.
This interconnected web of digitized knowledge, more rigorously checked than it was back during its earlier days, is partly what makes Wikipedia such a brilliant tool. The “game”, which has existed for many years now, takes advantage of the glorious web.
Pick a topic, like Destiny 2, and go to that article. Then, using another tab, pick another article – perhaps this one, on the Cold War-era US Operation Fishbowl, which involved detonating a series of space-based nuclear weapons tests. The first is your starting point; the second is your goal.
As outlined by this Wikipedia page on the game and its rules, you can also use the random article option to pick your two articles. Either way, the rules are the same: get to the target article from the starting article in either as little time, or as few clicks, as possible.
As spotted by Kotaku, Glitch Wikipedia makes the game somewhat more official and navigable. Visit the site, created by one Dan Gorelick, an engineer based in Brooklyn, and you are presented with two topics. Upon my first visit, I was given the starting topic of “Selena Gomez” and the final topic as the “New England Patriots.”
Taking up the challenge, the article itself doesn’t appear, but all the hyperlinks on the Selena Gomez page. Click through those, brave traveler, and eventually you will find a path to the American football team. Eventually.
I gave up before I completed the long virtual walk, though. Within five clicks, I had arrived at the Wikipedia page for “abiotic components” – which, incidentally, are non-living chemical and physical parts of the environment that affect living organisms and the functioning of ecosystems.
Describing the applet as making it even easier to dive into a Wikipedia k-hole, it’s noted by Kotaku’s Gita Jackson that this version of the game nevertheless “removes the potential benefit of actually reading the articles and learning something new.”
If you’d like to see the article as you play the game, perhaps this link is more your style. Regardless of which version you use, these applets are a great way to distract yourself from the world that’s burning down around you. Happy hunting!