Thursday, April 16, 2009

"The Game"

One of my contacts at the Vatican has just informed me that Mel Gibson is making a movie starring Dave Armstrong. Although the details are still a bit sketchy, here’s a plot synopsis, along with the cast of characters.


Nicholas Van Orton (Armstrong) is an amateur Catholic apologist and used hot-tub salesman.

On Nicholas' 48th birthday, his younger, rebellious, brother Conrad (Douglass) presents him with an unusual gift–a game offered by a company called Consumer Recreation Services–promising that it will change Nicholas' life. The nature of The Game is unclear at first, but it appears to be a sort of live action role-playing game that integrates directly into the player's real life.

After taking a lengthy psychological test and a physical exam, Nicholas is informed that CRS has rejected "his application" for The Game. However, he soon discovers the Game has not only begun, but it begins by focusing on a key traumatic moment of Nicholas's life when he witnessed his “friends” turn against him.

Evidence mounts that The Game is actually an elaborate and dangerous scheme. Each time Nicholas thinks he has uncovered the truth, he finds a new layer of complexity to it.

The game escalates into a no-holds-barred assault on everything Nicholas values, and his carefully ordered life seems to be disintegrating around him as The Game takes control.

He encounters an employee of Consumer Recreation Services, a waiter who calls himself Christopher (Swan), who at first assists him in escaping from the clutches of the increasingly violent CRS operatives, but after a series of narrow escapes and repeated attempts on his life, Nicholas realizes he has been drugged by Christopher. He regains consciousness in a burial crypt in Southern Mexico in a symbolic premature burial, all the while knowing that his miracle-water hot tubs have been confiscated by Christopher and his associates. The Game is now revealed to be an elaborate scam by the “trads” and the “fundies” to make Nicholas miserable.

Nicholas returns from Mexico to San Francisco by hitchhiking and begging rides, and as he believes that he has been alienated from his friends and his trusted lawyer, Nicholas comes to a realization about his life. But he becomes increasingly desperate and retrieves a hidden handgun from his ransacked home. He locates a Game employee and threatens him. With the employee's security clearance, he heads directly into the offices of The Game and takes Christopher hostage.

Security arrives and opens fire. Several of the staff are hit, falling over. Christopher and Nicholas escape to the roof of the company's skyscraper, and he demands answers. Christopher appears surprised by the gun, anxiously telling Nicholas that CRS had provided an automatic for him to use, yet he is carrying a revolver. He says that The Game's company thought it had replaced any real firearms Nicholas could access with unloaded fakes. He insists that the Game is just a hoax, and that his friends and family are waiting on the other side of the steel door, ready to celebrate his birthday. As the steel door opens, surprising the frightened and almost hysterical Nicholas, he fires without looking, only to reveal that he has shot his brother, who was holding a bottle of champagne and dressed in a tuxedo to celebrate Nicholas' birthday, and the successful conclusion of The Game. Several of the staff who have been shot appear again, unharmed.

Stricken with remorse and guilt (and exhaustion), Nicholas walks to the edge of the skyscraper's roof and steps off. He crashes through the glass ceiling of the ballroom. However, he lands safely on an airbag placed there for just that reason, and a doctor and rescue workers quickly restrain him and check him over, brushing bits of breakaway glass from his face and eyes. Then he finds his family and friends awaiting his scheduled arrival, and The Game is revealed to have just been a complex game after all. None of his miracle-water hot tubs has been confiscated, the gun was indeed reloaded with blanks, and his brother is very much alive. As they embrace, Conrad confesses that he arranged the extremely expensive Game as a way to shake his brother back to reality and help him to learn to enjoy life again.

As the party is in full swing, Nicholas meets several of the guests who were operatives in the Game. When he asks about Christopher, Conrad tells him that he is outside about to depart in a cab. Nicholas runs outside and talks to him about his part in the Game. He invites Nicholas to have coffee with him at the airport before he flies to Australia for his next assignment in the Game. Nicholas's Game appears to finally be over (but he cautiously looks over his shoulder, as he isn't sure).


Dave Armstrong as Nicholas Van Orton
Ben Douglass as Conrad Van Orton
James Swan as Christopher
James White as Jim Feingold
Shawn McElhinney as Samuel Sutherland
Gerry Matatics as Anson Baer
Steve Hays (cameo appearance)


  1. What a strange world we live in. And your comments, Steve, are rich, far beyond what we all deserve.


    "good story."

    For the record, the story is a satirical allusion to an old Michael Douglas movie.

  3. I just want to say that the actual movie The Game is really good. It is one of my favorite movies of all time.

  4. Steve, I just heard from LULU Publishing, and they are pursuing the possibility of putting out the movie in book form. Gibson is a bit peeved, considering his recent marital indiscretions, and isn't willing to reveal who came up with the screenplay. However, copyrights pending, they may have found a ghostwriter, one who has been involved with LULU, one who would love to build up the "Nicholas Van Orton" character, so that no one will escape its prominence. I hear that, because he has a direct connection to the movie, the ghostwriter believes he can convince Gibson to allow the book. The rest of the details are a bit sketchy, but the ghostwriter promises to leave detailed footnotes if and when the book is published.