They were once known as a vastly powerful, wise and noble people. Their accomplishments in the fields of science, of art, of literature bespoke a civilization that had embraced its full potential and manifested it for all to see. They were a proud people and justifiably so.
Perhaps they had triumphed too well or had advanced too far to realize it, but such perfection in a people was ultimately doomed to fail.
Every sufficiently advanced civilization had described the same path in its own way.There was the ascent, the apex and, inevitably, the decline. When every avenue of discovery or development or of expression had been exhausted then all that remained was ennui. And such is what befell these people as well.
Their historians were as bored as anyone else of them and so did not chronicle, with any great detail, the slow erosion of all that was to be envied in their kind. That erosion led to the eventual rise of The Game.
The exact details of how The Game was conducted are now immaterial. Suffice to say that it was as brutal, visceral and gladiatorial a diversion as had ever been devised.
To the contestants it was a chance to gain glory, riches and indescribable comforts no longer available to the masses. To the countless billions of watchers, it was, at its simplest, something enjoyable and different. That was sufficient for them.
Again, none recorded the progression of events and so none can say when it was that the spectacle of The Game became of secondary interest to the rituals attendant to it.
The sheer number of individuals desirous of being Contestants was staggering. Such concerns as their physical or mental fitness, viability to perform or even the odds of their survival did not dissuade them. The desire to compete was all. And so, a system must needs be have come about to choose those who would participate.
Their best and brightests minds devised the algorithm. The formula was input to their most powerful network of interlinked and near-sentient computers. From this process were the competitors chosen. It was as close an approximaton of randomness and chance as they could envision.
To add to the intensity and chaos of The Game though, another level of selection was introduced. Once the computers had dispensed their list, it was time for the common man to become involved.
Every being on the planet was allowed to choose one individual from the pool that they felt most likely to provide the greatest gaming experience.
Votes, much like dice, were a thing to be bet upon once cast. Vast sums of credits as well as goods, properties and other things best not speculated upon became the stakes used to sway the voting.
Most people were, initially, shy to wager on the outcome of so momentous an event but, all too soon, the betting became de rigeur and ,eventually, near compulsory. It was as graceful, orderly and well-reasoned a descent into barbarism as any civilization before or since has known.
We, The Observers, do not presume to question nor to pass judgment on this species and their doings. Our role is merely to catalogue, document and preserve the details of their existence. Our task has been performed to a level we feel satisfactory and sufficient. Confirm data stored. Terminate recording now.