Ok, there seems to be some confusion about The Game. Trust me -- this is a lot easier to explain and understand when done in person. I guess I just didn't do a good job of the explanation in the type-face format.
To answer a specific question; You're not playing before you know about it, but only after someone explains it to you (which I clearly haven't done well). From that point on, you ARE playing. And just because of the way it works, it's not really possible to STOP PLAYING, you're just simply playing while cheating (by not acknowlegding your loss when you remember about The Game).
But I digress. Here's an example:
Ian is walking down the road 3 months from now with his special lady-friend. He sees a "lost dog" sign stapled onto a telephone pole, titled with the word "LOST" in big, red letters. This reminds him, for the first time since today, that he's been playing The Game. So he now says "Crap! I lost!" out loud. His special lady-friend looks at him like he has just announced that he is the celebrated Papaya-king of the grand Republic of Hoochiville. He then explains The Game to her, and they continue on their merry way.