Eschaton is an apocalyptic-scenario game played by the students of ETA. It was created by Orin Incandenza and involves lobbing tennis balls at the military and civilian installations of other players. The game is played on 4 tennis courts, and a map of the world is tentatively set up.
The following is a summary of the game of Eschaton played in Infinite Jest:
- Things start off smoothly: “11/8’s game proceeds with much probity and cold deliberation, with even more pauses and hushed, chin-stroking conferences today than tend to be the norm” (328).
- SOVWAR, “absorbing serious collateral SUFDDIR,” requests negotiations with AMNAT (330). AMNAT, after some back-and-forth, agrees to “a temporary cessation of SPASEX” (332). God (Otis Lord) puts on the white beanie. All other combatants are free to keep bombarding.
- REDCHI bombs INDPAK and claims a direct hit on Karachi. INDPAK claims it’s only indirect. They appeal to God but God, busy calculating peace terms between AMNAT and SOVWAR, isn’t paying attention (333). This marks the first encroachment of reality upon the fiction of the game, since in truth there’s no “actual wienie roast in the actual Karachi” to decide the question.
- JJ Penn of INDPAK, looking to minimize his SUFFDIR, introduces the second reality-encroachment when he attempts to argue that the real-world snow affects the fictional blast radius within the fictional game (333). Pemulis goes apeshit and commences his “map-vs.-territory” (read: “reality-vs.-fiction”) tirade.
- General map-v.-territory pissing-and-moaning ensues. God gets distracted by a boogery nose and a floppy umbrella (334).
- Evan Ingersoll, of IRLIBSYR, realizes that “IRLIBSYR’s highest possible strategic utility lies in AMNAT and SOVWAR failing to come to terms” (335). Recall that the heads of AMNAT and SOVWAR are still negotiating terms in Sierra Leone (332).
- Ingersoll comes up with the outside-the-box solution of launching a tennis ball/warhead at the real-world people representing the fictional AMNAT/SOVWAR (335). Note that now, fictional strategic interests from within the fictional confines of the game are erupting outward to cause real-world pain in a real-world human being (Kittenplan) (336). In the Karachi incident and the proposed snow-effect on the blast radius, the opposite dynamic was occurring.
- God/Lord, rather than invalidating the “map-not-territory equivocationary horseshit” consults the rulebook and finds no entry for this scenario (338). God, basically, throws up his hands. Pemulis goes beserk.
- Kittenplan, taking Ingersoll’s reasoning one step further, decides to inflict real-world pain back on Ingersoll in the spirit of real-world revenge. At this point, all pretenses to complying with the internal logic of the fictional game are dropped (339).
- The other players descend to commit real-world cruelties. All armageddon breaks loose (340)
This summary is taken from the pages of Infinite Detox, a superb source, and can be accessed here.
A list of acronyms used within the game of Eschaton, accessed here, the Infinite Jest and Wallace wiki:
The United States of America and other NATO nations
The Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact nations
The People’s Republic of China
Libya and Syria
LIBSYR plus Iran and Iraq
India and Pakistan
Strikes Against Civilian POPulations
Major Metro Areas
Multiple Independent Re-entry Vehicles
Infliction of Death, Destruction, and Incapacitation of Response
Sites of Strategic Command
Suffering of Death, Destruction, and Incapacitation of Response
Conventional Force Concentrations
Eschaton is an interesting example of blurring the line between reality and fiction, especially when snow begins falling on the map. Is it falling in the game world or just in real life? If it is not falling in the game world, why have a map at all where ordinance is being lobbed? If it is falling the game world, how does one reconcile this will all of the players standing around on the map, and what actions in real life affect the world of the game?