Language as a board game

I’ve just finished reading The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks.  Yes, I’m a little behind the times for a geek.  Anyway, I was struck by the concept of Azad in the book.  The protagonist visits an Imperial civilisation whose whole society revolves around the playing of a board game called Azad.  Except this is a vastly complicated board game, played on multiple, football-field-sized boards with semi-conscious pieces and developed over thousands of years.  In fact, the game is so complicated that you can’t play it well unless your cognitive structures have been shaped by the game from a very young age.  Here’s a little extract:

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