Ben Borgers

The Code That Keeps Me Alive

March 19, 2022

In December, MSCHF released a project called Tontine. It’s a game where everybody pays $10 to play, and then you have to come back each day and indicate that you’re still alive.

If you don’t do that for a day, you die in the game. And the last person alive wins the entire prize pool — around $71,000.

I paid into the game on a whim, and now I’ve been marking myself as alive for 82 days. There’s still 2,000 of 7,100 people left, so we’re nowhere close to done yet.

But every morning, I get a reminder on my phone to check Tontine and make sure I’m still alive.

This reminder is actually a fallback though — in reality, I’m already marked as alive already when I check every morning, because I have a piece of code that runs every morning at 1am and 3am that attempts to mark me as alive automatically.

The code that keeps me alive (in the game, not in real life).

Is this cheating? It seems like MSCHF thinks this is fair game:

From Tontine’s FAQ on their website.

It’ll probably take years for this game to get anywhere close to determining a winner. And there’s a chance that somewhere along the way my bot will fail and my reminder won’t go off, and then I’ll die in the game.

But there’s a chance that I’m the last one alive. Plus, it’s fun to me, and that’s worth $10 by itself.