macOS v10.12+ Screensaver
Designed by Tamara Shopsin
Seems likely, or possible at least, that it evolved out of the I Ching (Book of Changes) from around 750–1000 BC. Fifty yarrow sticks were cast randomly, and the result was closely read against printed diagrams to divine the future. Soon enough the game of sticks was used for gambling.
I played Pick-up Sticks as a kid at my grandma’s house. She didn’t play with us often but when she did she always cheated and won.
The object of the game is to pick up the most sticks. To start, a bundle of sticks is dropped to produce a tangled pile. The more tangled the pile, the more challenging the game. Players try to remove one stick at a time, without moving any other. If another stick moves, their turn immediately ends. The game ends when all sticks have been picked up. The player who clears the last one, starts the game again by dropping the sticks.
Pick-up Sticks seemed to have it all: chance & randomness, a time scape, playful, and was also super graphic and beautiful.
Reconsidered as screensaver software, Pick-up Sticks replaces two players with one computer program, gravity with simulated physics, and distribution with a random algorithm. The self-playing game runs an endless loop of drop, pick-up, repeat — reading the future by making it happen, stick by stick, now.
I thought it would be fun to watch them drop but also then anticipate which stick would disappear first ...