Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Why lemmings?

After laughing for an hour at my sister imitating lemmings on skype last night, I came to realize that these tiny little green people are hilariously relevant to everyday life.

So what are lemmings?

For the eight of you out in the world that don't know what lemmings are I have posted a picture, they are tiny little green things that live in a world full of perils. Their one mission in life is to make it home. Unfortunately to get there they may need to cross rivers, lakes, pools of fire, walls, death-defying drops, and sometimes one of the pack have to be sacrificed.

In short it was a computer game. Came out int he 90s but didn't quite make it through the naughties. It wasn't as good as worms, but it was more addictive than two bite brownies, and one could find themselves playing for hours at a time. All you had to do was click on a lemming give it a special power and help it get home.

My particular favorite was making a lemming bash through a wall, which was perfectly demonstrated by my sister, fists clenched, arms windmilling forward as she walked off the edge of my skype video screen..she would make a great lemming.


See you thought i had forgotten about the point, and well, OK i nearly did, but I'm going to bring it round. What I liked about lemmings was the strategy. Not every lemming had to have a job, but even those who didn't had to be cared for. It may not have meant to, but it had an underlying message of team work and governmentality. Here we have a hundred lemmings, but even at the start we are told only 80 percent can survive. Sacrificing the few to save the many, its a massive message carried by tiny green lemmings.

Now i know that I'm not the only one that got a bit frustrated with the lemmings, and spent more than one game blowing up as many as i could. I've enjoyed watching them all walk into an exposed flame, one by one burning into nothingness. But overall, the challenge to save all of them reigned. Even if they wanted 75% survival, my goal was to save every single one. I was the superman to their metropolis.

It may seem ridiculous to compare a democratic society to a game with truly crap graphics, but I see the likeness. We are all controlled by strategists, deciding who to give the important jobs to, and how to protect the masses. We are looking for a purpose in life, never knowing if we are about to walk into a hot fiery pool around the next corner and hoping our fellow man may be there to stop us from doing so.

Contrary to the lemming lifestyle and luckily for me I get to decide the superpowers I'm going to use in my life, and what I'm going to sacrifice to help those around me. Oh and unlike a lemming I'll be glad to do it. But i will keep in mind that sometimes the bigger picture makes the smaller people seem irrelevant, and they are not, for in reality we are all small people. We are all lemmings.

I think maybe for now i should switch to playing worms....although its teaming with underlying messages about war...just kidding!!!


1 comment:

  1. Both Lemmings and Worms (the earlier, 2D sidescroller versions - not as much on the DS version I have) are favourite past games of mine. Friends and I spent hours on Worms getting our attacks just right, so not only would we kill each other, but do it with admirable style. Good times.