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notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK
Friday, January 30, 2004The Infinite Game The Clock of the Long Now - Time and Responsibility tonight, musing on life as either a finite, or infinite game...
The purpose is to win
Improves through fittest surviving
Winners exclude losers
Winner takes all
Aims are identical
Rules fixed in advance
Rules resemble debating contests
Compete for mature markets
Short-term decisive contests
The purpose is to improve the game
Improves through games evolving
Winners teach losers better plays
Winning widely shared
Aims are diverse
Rules changed by agreement
Rules resemble grammar of original utterances
Grow new markets
The idea comes from James P Carse, who suggests that football, elections, and much of business are finite games: win/lose. Infinite games would include family, gardening, and spiritual practice (though Christian Zionism, for one, seems to confuse that). Finite players seek to control the future; infinite players arrange things so the future keeps providing surprises. Death-defying finite players seek immortality through their famous victories; infinite players "offer their death as a way of continuing the play - they do not play for their own life, they live for their own play."
So... break out from the finite, stultifying political traumas of the day; explore the infinite. Taking the infinite view means I'll be making myself scarce between three and five tomorrow, well away from the radio, as the loathed Anfield derby plays itself out...