Super Smash Bros. – a game series developed by HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo that has taken college campuses by storm since 1999 with its earliest iteration. Smash, as it’s sometimes referred to, and the way it has engaged generations of gamers across the world for more than a decade now is truly the definition of a phenomenon. Whether you’re in elementary school, high school, college, or you’re an independent adult, chances are you’ve come into contact with and enjoyed a Smash Bros. game. Here is one video game I can recall having a blast playing at both the ages of 8 and 18.
Diplomacy is the art of dealing with people or countries in a sensitive and efficient way. Its importance and value has been respected since ancient times. In fact, the Chinese General Sun Tzu once wrote in his book The Art of War, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” His understanding on how diplomacy can single-handedly ended wars has been repeatedly proven in history through the centuries since his time. Although not all diplomacy is related to war and peace, it is about making negotiations, building relations, and maintaining relations even in the presence of conflicts. Games and sports are a notable facet in history through which countries and people have applied diplomacy.
In Homer’s Illiad, the chapter on the funeral games for Patroclus is a prime example of diplomacy within a group through games. Achilles, the leader of the group, uses the games as a means to honor a fallen warrior, distribute the spoils of war, respect elderly soldiers, and as a way to keep his soldiers happy. His actions helped him maintain good relations with all his fellow soldiers. In addition, his abstinence from the Chariot Race (which he could have easily won) shows that he is willing to concede so that others have a chance in the race. Achilles, by his actions, displayed diplomacy on an individual level through the funeral games.
The funeral games from Homer’s poem bear a resemblance to a modern day games that also involve diplomacy: the Olympics. Although it may not seem so obvious at first, Olympics are one of best places to practice diplomacy. One way countries can express their views is by choosing to participate or abstain from Olympics. One example of this use is the US boycott and attempts to convince others to boycott the Moscow Olympics in 1980 in retaliation for the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. Although not effective in changing Russia’s views, it did inform them peacefully of U.S. disapproval. Another way countries have practiced diplomacy during the Olympics is through the simple act of attending. By setting aside any differences and attending to celebrate games, an opportunity presents itself for feuding countries to reconcile. The Olympic Truce, an idea taken from history and has been recently promoted to the spotlight, has been a major diplomatic movement that aims to temporarily pause all wars around the world during the Olympic games to perhaps pave the way for new relations. Although the idea has only recently been promoted, it has already shown major promise in the United Nations when all 193 member countries voted to approve the truce in 2011. These ideas and actions entwine games and diplomacy through a timeless relation for the betterment of the world.