November 18, 2023

Using Dominoes As a Metaphor for Life

When people think of domino, they may imagine a game in which players set up long rows of black and white pieces and then knock them down. While the game itself has a certain amount of luck, it also involves careful planning and strategy. It’s easy to see why domino has become so popular!

The word “domino” derives from the Latin word dominum, meaning a ruler or master. In English and French, the word has an even earlier history, denoting a hooded cape worn together with a mask during carnival season or at a masquerade. Perhaps this connection explains why the domino piece has an ebony face and ivory face—reminiscent of a priest’s black domino contrasting with his surplice.

Dominoes are cousins of playing cards and have many different uses, including games of chance and skill. The individual pieces are called tiles, bones, tickets or spinners, and they typically have a pattern of spots, or “pips,” on one side and a blank or identically-patterned other side. The pips indicate the numbers 1 through 6, and some of the sides are marked with a double or zero. The rules of most domino games vary, but the basic idea is that a player must play a tile that matches the total number of pips on an adjacent opponent’s remaining dominoes.

There are two main types of domino games: blocking and scoring games. In blocking games, the goal is to prevent your opponents from making a play until you have the opportunity to do so yourself. In scoring games, the goal is to have the highest total point score when the game ends.

As a child, Lily Hevesh loved setting up dominoes in straight or curved lines and then flicking the first one to cause the rest to fall. She still enjoys playing dominoes today, and she’s found a unique way to use them in her art—as a metaphor for life!

In a story, each scene domino is an event that sets up the next. While some writers plan their manuscripts carefully, others write off the cuff and let each scene influence what comes next. Regardless of your writing style, learning how to leverage the domino effect can help you develop your plot more effectively.

When a woman was pulled over for driving while under the influence, it caused a domino effect in her community. The news of her arrest sent a ripple of worry through the local church and other businesses, prompting some to tighten their security measures.

Dominoes are used in a variety of ways, from building structures to predicting patterns. The science behind them is complex, but they’re based on simple principles. For example, standing a domino upright gives it potential energy—the stored energy it has based on its position. As the domino falls, much of this potential energy is converted into kinetic energy—energy in motion. This change in energy is what causes domino after domino to topple. For more information about this fascinating phenomenon, check out this article from Wonderopolis!