Jenga metaphors abound

I’m very interested in how we use ( possibly overuse) metaphor to shape our thoughts. It’s a topic I touch upon in About Jenga in the lead up to discussing how Jenga itself has become a metaphor. When I put the game Jenga on the market, I had no idea that it would acquire a whole new meaning and become a metaphor, representing a kind of instability that I assume had never before been encapsulated in one word. Be that as it may, the fact is that, today, Jenga metaphors abound. Chapter 15

I go on to mention quite a comprehensive list of interesting examples I had come across  of Jenga  being used as a metaphor. But new ones keep popping up that I wish I had been able to include at the time.  I came across one such example today:

Writing, especially humor writing, is  a lot like the game Jenga.  You spend a lot of time building up and crafting just the right amount of words, put together in just the right way, all aimed at just the right pay-off, and all it takes is for some yahoo to come along and pull out one block in the wrong way and the whole damn thing comes tumbling down.  So I was a bit worried about whether the editor I would be working with on my book would want to have a lot of input on what I was writing, or whether he or she would take a “hands-off” approach.  Or at least understand my Jenga analogy. How to be a writer: Pick an editor with a sense of humor

Jenga, the generalist


A large part of Jenga’s success can be attributed to the fact that Jenga is, to borrow a concept from the natural world, a generalist. Being a generalist -as, for example, are the plants that gardeners accuse of being weeds – Jenga has managed to colonize, as weeds do, a wide range of different territories simultaneously . Children like to play it, so it’s available in toy stores. Teachers like to use it as a teaching aid, so it’s available through educational suppliers. It is a popular adult drinking game, so you find it in pubs. Language is no barrier and neither is age, hence it can be perennially popular without acquiring craze status and is thus less likely to drop in and out of fashion as many other toys have done, such as the yo-yo and the hula hoop.
The flip side to such general success is that Jenga spawned a number of copies of knockoffs, some of which, like weeds themselves, rushed in to take advantage of the cleared space and perfect growing conditions Jenga created. Keeping the ground free of these imitations remains a challenge and, at the risk of taking this analogy a step too far, the most effective method of suppressing them has been to treat them like weeds and try to fill any gap in the market with an original Jenga game (or genuine Jenga line extension) as a gardener fills every space in a bed with desirable plants, leaving no room for weeds to take hold.

A brief excerpt from chapter 12 of ‘About Jenga’