What is the infinite game? Here’s your cheat sheet

Tweaking my decision-making with the infinite game mindset.

I have found it to be a key to imagining (and building) a world of abundance and opportunity vs a world of scarcity and conflict.

The idea was first articulated by James Carse in his book: Finite and Infinite Games.

Here are the main principles.

  • Finite games end. There is a winner and a loser. Infinite games never end. They exist to play.
  • In finite games, the rules don’t change. In infinite games, the rules must change to keep the game in play.
  • Finite games play within boundaries. Infinite games play with boundaries.
  • Finite players are serious. Infinite players are playful.
  • Finite players win titles. Infinite players have nothing but their names.
  • Finite players play to be powerful. An infinite player plays with strength.
  • Finite players are theatrical — they take a role in someone else’s script. Infinite players are dramatic — they become the protagonist.
  • Finite players consume time. Infinite players generate time.
  • Finite players want eternal life. The infinite player wants eternal birth. They know they will never finish the game which will go on without them.

What decision do I need to make today and how could it be different?

🖖🏻 I’m building out loud.

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Phil Morle

Deep tech VC — Main Sequence Ventures. Ecosystem builder. Maker. Director. Startup Scientist.