New Mac 'game' plays Russian roulette with your files

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Looking for an ideal holiday gift for that brooding philosophy student in your life? Check out Lose/Lose. It’s reminiscent of classic arcade games like Space Invaders, but with a sobering twist: Each time you destroy an alien, the game deletes a file from your Mac. Forever.

Created by Zach Gage, a digital artist in New York City, Lose/Lose puts the player in the position of shooter as aliens rain down from above. Get touched by an alien, you lose. Kill an alien, you score points—but you also vaporize a random file from your home directory. If your ship is destroyed, the game deletes itself from your hard drive.

The game is clearly intended to be food for thought rather than mindless entertainment. Above the download link on his site, Gage issues a warning—in large, red, all-capped lettering—that Lose/Lose permanently deletes files from your hard drive. It’s not meant for hardcore gamers. Or maybe it is.

“By way of exploring what it means to kill in a video-game, Lose/Lose broaches bigger questions,” Gage writes on his site. Gage himself doesn’t seem entirely clear on what those bigger questions are. He meanders through a few ideas, including the value of data versus the value of real objects and the question of what the real point of the game is.

“[T]he aliens will never actually fire at the player. This calls into question the player’s mission … Is the player supposed to be an aggressor? Or merely an observer, traversing through a dangerous land?”

If it’s the latter, you don’t have to be a great thinker to know that Lose/Lose won’t go viral anytime soon.

Symantec, the Maytag repairman of the Mac software world, says it considers the game a potential security threat and will begin detecting it as OSX.Loosemanque.

That hasn’t stopped people from downloading it. A list of high scores on Gage’s site includes a few “Losers” who claim to have eclipsed 4,000 points.

If nothing else, it’s a way to kill time while you reformat a hard drive.

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