Works that refer to Assassination/Unscrupulous Manipulation as "The Game"

Yeah, I know, incredibly specific. Anyway, I was recently playing Dragon Age and some of its DLC and what I noticed was the recurring theme, both in the Dwarven Noble origin and Leliana’s Song as referring to the art of framing, defaming, assassination, betrayal, and spreading misinformation as “The Game” or being “outgamed” and such. I know I’ve heard such things before, but I’m at a loss for where. It doesn’t necessarily have to be politics, but rather anything evil or unscrupulous referred to as some sort of game or recreational “fun” activity. My only requirement is that it has to be known in some way by the people participating, so Ender’s Game doesn’t count, since the character really does think he’s playing some sort of arcade game. However, something like a story about elder gods messing with a specific human until he kills himself just for kicks as a “game” would be. And of course, something like The Most Dangerous Game counts, despite it not being political.

I just lost the game

Well, in the 19th Century, the rivalry between Russia and England over central Asia was called “The Great Game.”

The word “Game” in “The Most Dangerous Game” has a double meaning – both a game, but also a game animal (i.e., for hunting). The story leans toward an animal – that man is the most dangerous animal to hunt.

Cordwainer Smith’s “The Game of Rat and Dragon” is about pinlighters, who fight threats that attack ships in hyperspace. Though the imagery is that of a card game, what actually happens is far from it.

Which is what inspired the usage of the term in Dragon Age as I recall.

David Weber’s In Fury Born uses the phrase “the great game” in a similar sense. The character here engaged in massive fake “pirate attacks” (killing millions) as part of a convoluted scheme to gain political power.

He also uses it in a “manipulate societies and governments” sense in Storm From the Shadows:

I don’t know how relevant it is since it doesn’t include murder, but I’ve heard people call unscrupulous dating tactics “the game” (by male pickup artists) or “the rules” (catty females).