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Book Review - Finite and Infinite Games

January 7, 2014
tags:  bookgameslifephilosophyreview

My second review, and the second book I've read in 2014 (well, technically the first, but I count last week's selection as a 2014 read...). This book left me with a lot to think about for it's slim pagecount.


Title: Finite and Infinite Games (A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility)

Author(s): James P. Carse

Publisher: Free Press

Pages: 152

ISBN: 975-1-4767-3171-1 (paperback)


What can be said about this book that hasn't already been said? Carse presents a very captivating and convincing case for life as play. He spends the first chapter of the book building up a framework for describing interactions as either finite or infinite games, and then spends the remaining six chapters inserting nearly every human activity into this framework, making compelling arguments for such varied topics as man-machine-interfaces, society and culture, motherhood, religion, gardening, sports, and career work. And in doing so, he expands the horizons of these fields for the infinite player -- he who is devoted to continuing play.

He makes several very powerful statements and works very little to prove his points -- as if the points he's making are universal truths that simply needed to be written down to be self evident. And it works. Well.

The book is full of the dichotomy of the finite/infinite game paradigm, focusing on how these two activites are so innately similar that they cannot help but be depressingly disparate. It's fascinating, and already starting to affect my thought process.

I can't delve much more into the book than this -- any further would be to relinquish my voice and speak as a remembered Carse, undoubtedly coming off as a poor imitiation. Just take my word for it -- it's well worth a read. And if I can finish it in a week, it's got a lot going for it in terms of approachability.

My Score

Overall, I'd give it a 7/7 -- it really is a must read.

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