The Infinite Game

The concept of 'Game' itself/ The Game of Fire/ The Ultimate Game/ The exquisite drama and play and sport of the Creator/ The First and Only Game of which all others are but parts of aspects or games within The Game.

Creator: Without beginning / of the Nature of Being
Played by: Narada

I love the Sanskrit word 'leela'. It can be translated variously as- game, pastime, play, sport, drama, pleasurable activity, and still means something more. The whole substance and purpose of existence is "for the enjoyment of God"- (note the double meaning). The "rules" of this "game" may never be fully knowable by minds that are themselves moves in the play of the Infinite Game.

Game II Core Wave: "Ancient Ideas in Modern Times" or "Time Transcendent Ideas."

Primary Category

Related Categories

Relationship to Core Wave

When did humans first conceived of a "game", or "sport", or play "? Is not CoreWave itself an ancient idea in modern context?

Connection Tunnels

  • Alien Dream Time
  • The Meru Project
  • Big Bang Never Happened
  • Greatest Illusion
  • The Internet AND Mind Altering Substances
  • CoreWave Game One
  • The Bridge

    Highlight Quotes

    "I suddenly realised that in the language or at any rate in the spirit of the Glass Bead Game, everything actually was all-meaningful, that every single and combination of symbols led not hither and yon, not to single examples, experiments, and proofs, but into the centre, the mystery and innermost heart of the world, into primal knowledge. "
    -- Herman Hesse, "The Glass Bead Game"

    Geographic Location

    Silicon Valley, for the guys who make this new form of the game possible.

    Images and Clips

    HipBone Games, Very Kool Stuff About THE GAME -- narada

    Access and Distribution

    Look around.

  • Main Submission

    Perhaps the first players of games were the young of each species practising the skills that they will need as adults- the mock battles and mimicking of behaviour, etc. What defines something as a game rather than "real" is that it is played with symbolic pieces and does not really threaten our lives or well being. What makes our lives more than "just a game" is often seem to be the immediacy and the power of pain, suffering, death, and also of pleasure, and love. But the Ultimate Game of which I am speaking, is not limited by this definition. It incorporates all the drama of life and death, and draws much of its beauty and fire from dealing with the real issues of life.

    Games can be incredibly varied in their structure but usually they will have qualities that can be roughly defined as- rules, pieces, boards, players, audience, equipment, and sub-categories, extensions, and variations on these. For instance- there are physical games, emotional games, mental games, and spiritual games- though these could be said to be merely different types of boards or arenas of play.

    I would like to be involved in the creation of a web site dedicated to the discussion about, and development of, a playable version of the ultimate game. -- Narada


    Re- the Glass Bead Game: I have not listed the Glass Bead Game as a version of The Ultimate Game for a few reasons. Most importantly to me- The Ultimate Game should not be sterile in the sense that Hesse's game was. I see absolute evidence that the playing of the Ultimate Game is indeed what creates and expires new technologies, insights, theorems, artworks, medicines, social institutions and reformations, acts of heroism and humanity, understanding and compassion, etc, etc. For me there must also be a deeper acknowledgement that we do not create the game so much as it creates and plays and moves us. We are born as pieces into the world game, and forces play upon our bodies and minds as boards, and this is part of the wonder of the game. Perhaps this is what Joseph Knecht (the Magister Ludi of Hesse's Glass Bead Game) wished to bring into the game by his refusal to play by the rules of a sterile order. If this is so then we must take our efforts to emulate the G B G further than the Castilian vision, and seek greater depths of meaning as Joseph Knecht did.

    CoreWave is an interesting development of Hesse's theme. I think he would be most pleased to see that the G B G is evolving through the actual playing of the game itself, in ways that he had not imagined. In particular, the personal computer and associated technologies make a form of G B G playable on the web that is excitingly global, visual, and experimental. Every web page is a move, a bead, in the W W W game- and every hyperlink is a connection tunnel. Information, ideas, inspirations, are indeed playing together- though clearly the orchestra has not finished tuning up and it remains to be heard what music it is possible to play on this organ.

    Speaking of music, I find it exciting that the software available is making possible new musical versions of the GBG. Through the use of software that knows what is and is not allowable as defined by certain musical rules, less proficient musicians can choose from a range of possible moves that are within harmonious parameters. This applies to chords, melodies, themes, rythms, etc. I am most interested in developing visual image and music based versions of the Game. -- Narada

    Follow Ups

    I'm mentioning a book that people here might like: "Finite and Infinite Games" by James P. Carse. It might also be a good link from this move The Infinite Game to the move The Greatest Illusion / Time.


    "There are at least two kinds of games. One could be called finite, the other, infinite. A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play."

    "It is an invariable principle of all play, finite and infinite, that whoever plays, plays freely. Whoever /must/ play, cannot /play/."

    "The passage of time is always relative to that which does not pass, to the timeless. Victories occur in time, but the titles won in them are timeless. Titles neither age nor die."

    "The infinite player in us does not consume time but generates it. Because infinite play is dramatic and has no scripted conclusion, its time is time lived and not time viewed."

    "As an infinite player one is neither young nor old, for one does not live in the time of another. There is therefore no external measure of an infinite player's temporality. Time does not pass for an infinite player. Each moment of time is a beginning."

    "Myth provokes explaination but accepts none of it. Where explaination absobs the unspeakable into the speakable, myth reintroduces the silence that makes original discourse possible."


    -- Enoch

    A further relation to illusion, to language, and a point from which to explore other relationships and find new ideas:

    Sprachspiel - German compound word, from sprach (language, speech) and spiel (game, play (the kind at the theatre)) usually translated as language-game.

    Sprachspiel is a central concept in Wittgenstein's (Austro-English philosopher) "Philosophical Investigations" (published around 1950) which argues (among other things) that language has meaning only within particular social contexts (each with its own language-game) and therefore that most of philosophy, in abstracting concepts such as truth, the good, meaning, etc. out of the various particular language-games in which they are used, becomes really a meaningless playing with symbols devoid of meaning.

    Possible connections to other concepts: literary devices, especially metaphor (recall the prohibition of "private" connections in Hesse's Glass Bead Game) the play, especially tragedy.

    Finally I'd like to add here that this is leading towards reflexion in the game; in a sense the bead game is becoming self-aware. --Smiley

    I agree that the manifestation of the Glass Bead Game may be a bit 'sterile,' and that Knecht himself wished to add a little more life, a little more risk into the game. Up the ante. In this situation, however, we have no refined order to the game (as the Castalians did); we are in the process of shaping the rules of the game.

    If a person who has never played a saxophone picks one up, squeaks a few sour notes, and claims to be "avant-garde" he or she will not be taken seriously (or tolerated in the spirit of game either, most likely). Ornette Coleman, on the other hand, or Rashaan Roland Kirk, could play outside because they knew how to play inside. The changes just didn't hold their interest. For us to break the rules without knowing them first is a detriment to the game. And while the rules of the G B G are in constant evolution, a game is not a game without rules to play by. -- Todd Grady

    © 1998 CoreWave (tm)