The Center for Ludic Synergy presents

A Basic Ludist Reading List

The following books cannot be more highly recommended as an introduction to the strategy and tactics of Ludism:


Berne, Eric, M.D.. Games People Play. Like R.D. Laing's Knots, can get ugly, but introduces the concept of life games, and does discuss a few positive games. (Why does psychology almost always focus on the sick and not the healthy?)

Carse, James P.. Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility. ... Sheer poetry. From a theologian yet! The last chapter reads only, "There is but one infinite game."

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. You know that feeling you get when you're "on a roll" in a game? This book is about how to achieve that state of consciousness nearly all the time. Mike C. is one psychologist who does believe in studying the healthy!

de Bono, Edward. Handbook for the Positive Revolution. ... I like to describe this book as "how to spin the planet on its axis without spilling a single drop -- of blood." "Positive" is the keyword here. The Center for Ludic Synergy is an ally of the positive revolution, and we sponsor the Positive Revolution FAQ.

Dixit, Avinash K. and Barry J. Nalebuff. Thinking Strategically: The Competitive Edge in Business, Politics, and Everyday Life. ... This looks like the kind of book I wouldn't even pick up in a bookstore, but Laver (below) recommended it highly. It is indeed very, very good, and gives real-life applications of game theory (mathematics, not Ludism), leavened with wry humour. Explains where game theory falls down in real life, too. Invaluable if you want to be a better all-around gamer.

Hancock, Arthur B. and Kathleen J. Brugger. The Game of God. All about Lila, and why we should forgive God for all the suffering in the world (hint: Life is a Game).

Hillig, Chuck. What Are You Doing in My Universe? (Formerly titled How to Play With Yourself) ... Even more about Lila. Profound ontological metaphysics for tykes of all ages.

Huizinga, Johan. Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture. ... A classic study of play and games, and perhaps the most comprehensive ever. If you don't take games seriously, think about this: our legal system seems to have evolved from prehistoric debating games.

Laver, Michael. Playing Politics. ... Transfinite games as models of the political process. Not bloody nearly as dry as it sounds. These games would be gangbusters at a party if they didn't cause a fistfight first. Get the 1997 edition.

Motte, Warren F., Jr.. OuLiPo: A Primer of Potential Literature. All about the Oulipo, a legendary French literary group whose members have written novels without the letter e (even harder in French!), palindromes running to thousands of words, books containing 100,000,000,000 sonnets, and stories based on the theory of graphs. As you might imagine, they have a lot to say about games and rules in art and literature.


Banks, Iain M.. The Player of Games. About an all-encompassing, galaxy-spanning metagame and the man who sets out to crack it. Some of the game penalty scenes in this novel require a reader with a strong stomach. (Oh, sure, it's all fun and games until somebody puts an eye out!) The comparison with our own culture is hard to miss. (See Huizinga, above.)

Bayley, Barrington J.. The Grand Wheel. This little-known science fiction author, sometimes compared to Philip K. Dick, has turned out a brief masterpiece. All about a galactic gambling syndicate. Rife with speculation about luck and synchronicity, the nature of reality, and, yes, games. The scene where a superintelligent computer generates a new reality-warping game based on the Tarot-like symbolisms of thousands of planets is priceless.

Dick, Philip K.. The Game-Players of Ganymede. How do you bluff a telepath? Mad genius PKD answers that and other questions (but mostly leaves his questions unanswered) in the course of a novel about an extremely complex metagame played between humans and, er, Vugs. Only the future of reality is at stake.

Hesse, Hermann. The Glass Bead Game. ... Be sure to get the Richard and Clara Winston translation, sometimes titled Magister Ludi. The book that started it all. Beyond comparison. Won Hesse the Nobel Prize.

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Maintainer: Ron Hale-Evans, rwhe@apocalypse.org

Page last updated 23 September 1999.