Games of Chance

A letter from the Editors of Zine.

Text Zine
Published 19 Dec 2023

Once, we made sense of the world with sweeping narratives that provided a comforting sense of mastery. Now, with those narratives shattered beyond repair by a reality too complex for us to fathom, a new kind of coping mechanism is emerging—one where we make peace with the limits of our agency rather than pretending to overcome them. The task is no longer to take charge of our destiny, but to play the cards we’re given with cunning and slight.

Even if you don’t believe in luck, it’s hard to deny how games of chance have seeped into every part of our contemporary existence. We wake up each morning for another dissociated scroll through our personalized dopamine casino. There, we find NPC girlbots puppeteered by swarms of subscribers, promptcore experiments made with probabilistic AI models, and tales of crestfallen teens who made and lost their trust fund betting on a shitcoin. If it feels like too much, one response is to log off. Another is to hit refresh until you’ve learned to love the pleasant vertigo of passivity.

When submitting to fate with cosmic indifference remains out of reach, we weigh up our odds or ward off uncertainty with magical thinking that reveals a hidden order to chance events. We seek out patterns, hoard omens, or meme our success into being, but in all cases, we gamble with forces beyond our control in the pursuit of good fortune. In a world without guarantees that feels both wholly preprogrammed and impossible to predict—what else is there to do but get comfortable with leaps of faith?

After publishing this special issue, consisting of articles and artworks that investigate and inhabit this strange condition, Zine will be taking a hiatus. The site will exist as an archive of tales and documentation of past, present, and future tellings. Thank you to everyone that has so far contributed, read, shared, and collected. The cosmic lottery awaits us.

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