The Sad Game

L.M. Ladron de Guevara

Lina María Ladron de Guevara

Objective: to calculate the number of lost points when interacting with images of waste.

A picture tells more than a thousand words, people like to say.

I recently went to a World Press photo exhibition in Auckland. I was feeling a bit cranky on that particular day and decided to sit in a corner and wait for my companion while she enjoyed the exhibition without me. After a few minutes glancing through the window and checking out the people that were moving around the exhibition, one picture in front of me caught my attention. It was a strange looking boy, in what looked like a football stadium, watching a football game. After a few minutes, I couldn’t resist standing up, moving forward, and reading about the scene. To my surprise, and yet not, the strange looking boy was an Iranian girl disguised as a boy. What an introduction!

Before I realised it, I was walking around like the rest of the people, watching and then reading, learning through my eyes and feeling rather nostalgic because of some of the photos on display. Then, two pictures really caught my attention. The first picture showed the shadow of a body; the shadow of a man who had died two days after the picture was taken. A Venezuelan. The second picture made me play The Sad Game, which I want to introduce to you today. It is a picture that summarises many of the biggest problems of our super cool, in-the-cloud, tweet-like-hashtag, modern society. The author: Mario Cruz, an awarded photographer and more recently, a writer. The picture: “Living among what’s left behind”.Have you seen it?

Mario Cruz. World Press. Pasig River. Manila. Philippines.

The Sad Game consists in using one picture like Mario Cruz’s and then you look for products and brands that can be seen in it. If you see a product that you currently use, you lose 1 point. If you see a brand you know of, you lose 2 points, and if you see a product and the brand, and you have used both recently, you lose 3 points. Please don’t try to count bags as it’s an impossible task. After playing the game for a couple of minutes using Mario Cruz’s picture, my score was: -14. Three products, one brand, and two brands and products that I had used recently (one repeated).

If you what to check out how many points you can lose, you can use this link where you will get a good quality image.

Now, let’s focus on the child who is at the centre of this picture and this tragedy: the most important element of the photo. After some days thinking about this picture, the waste, and the floating child, I finally saw the obvious, and understood why it was so hard for me to confront the image. Our waste is all around us – for some in more direct and awful ways than for others, but waste is all around us… Kids should not be floating in waste.

Playing The Sad Game made me think about how waste is now a common thing to find in natural and urban settings. But let’s be honest, it is not just the big brands who need to tackle the problem. It is you and me, after all, throwing away tones of waste to bins, roads, landfills, rivers, oceans, and so on, every day.

Iain McGregor. STUFF/AFP. Henderson Island

The Sad Game at Henderson Island: This is one of the worst cases of waste going to unexpected places. According to the findings of the 2015 expedition, this uninhabited Island located in the Pacific Ocean had 700 items of plastic per square meter. More recently, a new expedition cleaned up around 6 tones of waste with labels from all around the world.

The Plastic Meal Sad Game: according to the WWF, plastic has become incorporated into our diet. On average, a human being eats the same amount of plastic that comprises one credit card, every week. How? Because of plastic waste. But how? because plastic, does not biodegrade. Plastic breaks into tiny pieces – micro pieces that move around in the air, the soil and the water. Fish eat plastic; humans eats fish. Plastic flows in water; humans drink water. Plastic goes with the wind; humans breathe, and so on.

Finally, as a let’s take advantage of an opportunity case, I would like to share with you the web page of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. I think this is a good place to start if you are interested in learning more about solutions, and less about Sad Games.

If a picture tells more than a thousand words, and actions can be captured in billions of pictures, just imagine how much we could tell. Start doing something.


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