It’s about getting from one word to a totally unrelated word using synonyms.
All you need for the game is a tool (a Software or a Website) that gives you the synonyms of a word, e.g. Word-web, Dictionary.com. So here are the steps to play the game:
1. Think of any two apparently disconnected words like “Deep” and “Formula”.
2. Find Synonyms of the first word using the tool.
3. From the list of Synonyms, select a word that, you think, could take you closer to the second word.
4. Find Synonyms of the selected word in step 3.
5. If the second word (here “Light”) is not in the list obtained in step 4, then go to step 3. Else, celebrate.
So for the Deep-Formula example, the sequence using Word-web could be:
Of course, there is more than one solution in many cases. The most fun part is trying to get to the opposites through the chain of synonyms. Let’s kill the life:
Try and get to “Clear” from “Close” in minimum number of steps. Why don’t you put a challenging pair in the comments with the number of steps you took to reach the solution.
Not all pairs would have solutions; but that happens mostly if you choose a very restrictive first word, like “Calculator”. Otherwise, you almost always get to any other word through the synonyms. Now, what does that tell us about language and symbols and the way we communicate?
Let me know if you find the game genuinely interesting and whether you’ve seen something similar anywhere else. If it’s worth it, then I might create a Software (may be a Facebook application) that would help play the game. It would come up with suitable pairs which definitely have solutions and then show the user/player the route he is taking to get to the destination word. Taking a step further, the software can generate pairs at various difficulty levels based on the number of steps and choices required to solve the problem.
This also reminds me of the silly game of rhyming words, if I may call it so, that almost all of us would have played. Back in Kharagpur, me and one particular friend nicknamed Sanki, seldom had a conversation without the poetic touch. He would knock on my door and ask “Do you have a pen?”; the reply would be “Only if square of Pi is less than ten.” Yes, we were that bad. It did get emotionally draining to be always alert and continue doing so month after month. We earned many enemies in due course, some well-wishers turned agnostic too.
Putting stupid memories aside, let me request you to throw a few challenging pairs and then we can compare our solutions.
And am I glad to beat the deadline by a mighty margin of two hours :).