Finite and Infinite games — James Carse

This book topped alot of “it will change your life” lists. I am less sure.

Written by James Carse, talk available at the Long Now

Prof Carse is professor emeritus at NYU, where he directed the religious studies program for many years.

A finite game has a defined end, and a defined winner. War is the ultimate finite game. Basketball is a less violent and shorter example.

An infinte game is played with the purpose of continuing to play. It has no end, and the concept of winning doesn’t exist. Free-form building with legos, for example. Religion as another.

Finite games impose boundaries or rules.
Infinte games have horizons.

Finite games are entered willingly yet exiting is involuntary.
Infinte games can be entered involuntarily, yet exiting is voluntary.

Likewise, we can concieve of dramatic (requiring participation, infinite) or theatrical (participation is optional, preset goals) games.

Prof Carse started school at age 4 and never left (his words). His lack of engagement in the “real world” shows in his philosophy, which does not appear to be harded by fire.


Posted on February 7, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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