Finite And Infinite Games

by James Carse ISBN:0345341848

I had to buy this after reading too many quotes from Dave McCusker.

I was expecting a heavy abstract Game Theory book, but it appears at first glance to be more of a soft philosophy book. Which sounds more demeaning than I intend.

  • Kevin Kelly loves this book.
  • The NyTimes reviewer did not: Halfway through this book I became like a viewer of a B movie, rooting for the villain -that hapless finite player. At least he stands for something. The infinite player, since he stands for nothing, ''has nothing to defend.'' Neither would a community of infinite players. ''A people,'' Mr. Carse affirms, ''has no enemies.'' Imagine uttering that to the Jews of the Warsaw ghetto.

A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play.

Finite players play within boundaries; infinite players (live player) play with boundaries.

To be prepared against surprise is to be trained. To be prepared for surprise is to be educated.

The death of an infinite player is dramatic. It does not mean that the game comes to an end with death; on the contrary, infinite players offer their death as a way of continuing the play. For that reason they do not play for their own life; they live for their own play.

I can be powerful only by not playing, by showing that the game is over. (Not To Play)

Infinite players do not oppose the actions of others, but initiate actions of their own in such a way that others will play by initiating their own.

Evil is the termination of infinite play.

No one can play a game alone.

After I read it I need to think about Carse's division between finite and infinite games in comparison to Alistair Cockburn's division between Cooperative Games and Competitive Games.

Hmmm, also need to review it for bits on Games Theory thinking.

Spoiler alert - here is the last line of the book

There Is But One Infinite Game

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