"This is best for Ender, too. We're bringing him to his full potential." (11.10)
If the mind game is meant to be something like therapy for trouble super-geniuses, then here we’re given a slightly different purpose for manipulation: the school administrators are messing with Ender in order to make him the best he can be. (This is probably Anderson speaking.) Note that here, the manipulation is not just for the benefit of humanity – it’s not just that Ender is a tool. The speaker also thinks “this is best for Ender.” So here we have a slight defense of manipulation.
He held up a limp hand. "See the strings?" (13.105)
Here Ender is complaining to his sister (during his visit to Earth) about how he’s being manipulated by the adults in his life and has no real options. In other words, he feels like a puppet. Which is exactly what Peter called him in 2.64. Just a coincidence, right? Or maybe we’re meant to draw some comparison between the different manipulators in Ender’s life.
“We play by their rules long enough, and it becomes our game." (13.114)
What exactly is Val saying here? She’s trying to comfort Ender by telling him that he’s not a puppet other people's games, he’s actually a player. Is she right? The school administrators’ other quotes (that we pulled here) make us reconsider our attitude towards manipulation: oh, well, if Anderson says that manipulation is good for Ender, maybe he’s right. But here, Val takes another approach. She seems to be saying that we can escape manipulation by…ignoring it? Or leaning into it? This seems like a radically different approach from, say, Dink’s awareness of manipulation.