Holy cow, I wrote a book!
Reader laonianren wanted to know more about this game
Walls and Ladders.
"Walls and Ladders" is not a game.
It's just a metaphor for a conflict in which
one side wants to perform some action and the other side
wants to prevent it.
The defending side builds a wall, and the attacking side
builds a taller ladder.
In response, the defending side builds a taller wall,
and the attacking side builds an even taller ladder.
The result of this conflict is that the defending side
constructs an ever-more-elaborate wall
and the attacking side constructs
a more-and-more complex ladder [link possible NSFW],
both sides expending ridiculous amounts of resources
and ultimately ending up back where they started.
There is a closely-related metaphor known as an
In an arms race,
each participant wants to be the most X,
for some property X.
An arms race tends to be all-attack,
whereas wall-and-ladders tends to have one side attacking and the other
Since many conflicts
can be phrased either as an attack-attack scenario or an attack-defend
scenario (some defenses may include counter-attacks),
I tend to get the two confused.
Notice, for example, that my
arms race article contains mostly walls-and-ladders scenarios;
a case where
one side wants to terminate a process and another wants to
prevent it from being terminated.
On the other hand, my
wall and ladders
example was really more of an arms race, with both sides wanting
to take control of the screen.
Depending on which group you work with at Microsoft,
you may find a preference for walls and ladders over
probably due to the same sensitivity to military terms
that led to the
(I seem to recall that there was a lawsuit that among other things
alleged that the fact that a Microsoft project
called its daily meeting room the War Room
was proof of
Microsoft's evil essence.)