The social media cycle of tragedy is like a terrible, well-rehearsed dance by now. The name of an American city surges on Twitter's trending topics. Everybody gets the sinking, overly familiar feeling that it means a bunch of people just got shot. The practically numb average citizen resumes tweeting an ongoing monologue of despair. And the politicians who indirectly let it happen again offer the same two responses: thoughts and prayers.
What does thinking about a victim do for that victim, or the next victim? What does a prayer do besides reinforce the pray-er's belief that this is all out of humanity's hands? We keep seeing how ineffective these two solutions are in real life, and now a new video game lets you try them out in a digital simulation.
Thoughts and Prayers is an '80s-style arcade game that lets users either deploy a Thought or a Prayer against one of the shootings that have occurred recently in Phoenix, Houston, and a depressing number of other places. All the while, a third option exists in the lower middle of the screen, Ban Assault Rifles. When you press it, though, well, you get some of the same resigned, goodwill-depleting messages you encounter in real life when suggesting as much.
Created by writer and developer Mike Lacher, it's a clever way to reiterate what common sense has already made clear to many of us. Thoughts and prayers can't put out a fire. They can't do much of anything except temporarily make the person offering them feel, I don't know, magnanimous? The only way to put out a fire is with some kind of action.
Play the game here and let us know in the comments if your thoughts and prayers made a difference.