Oh, I get the whole “game” thing now

Claim: the whole point of the whole “game” approach to pursuing mates is locked up in that very word, as well as in some of the other cutsey words the game people use, like “blown out” for rejection. The whole point is to treat the dating process as a game, to artificially deflate its importance, and, more critically, the importance of the other participants and their judgments of you. The ideal (and this explains the contemptuous misogyny that often comes with, see, e.g., Roissy) is to totally forget the unforgettable fact that you are being judged, that other humans, on whose recognition and participation in our lives we all, alas, depend to give meaning to our projects (on this, see Simone de Beauvoir’s The Ethics of Ambiguity), are passing on your attractiveness, your personality, your social suitability, your worth as a person. The point, ultimately, is to deceive yourself into believing that rejection doesn’t hurt.


12 Responses to “Oh, I get the whole “game” thing now”

  1. CJ Says:

    Well, that’s one reading. But it assumes the people involved are playing for fun. And can remember that they’re playing for fun. And are only playing with other people who are playing for fun.

  2. Paul Gowder Says:

    Oh, no. They want to trick themselves into believing they’re playing for fun, when really they are not.

  3. Mike Says:

    Dude, you kill me.

    You have the IQ to get this stuff. You just won’t look at it with an open mind.

    Your posts on game always remind me why I don’t trust high IQ people on account of their IQ or accomplishments. IQ don’t mean shit if you look at an issue with such bias.

  4. CJ Says:

    Paul–Do you truly believe that the people who think/view mating as a/the game are rationally tricking themselves? Are they even capable of that?

  5. Stephen Bank Says:

    Hey Paul, on a not-actually-related note, what’s a good way to learn game theory?

    I’m an undergrad right now, but my school doesn’t seem to offer classes on game theory in math, econ, or philosophy (they seemed like the most obvious possibilities to me).

    How did you go about learning it? A course? A book?

  6. Paul Gowder Says:

    Mike and CJ, I love how you have very different opinions on whether I think this tricking is rational or effective or worthwhile. I won’t clear up the confusion.

  7. Paul Gowder Says:


    You might be able to get a game theory class in your poli sci department too. Also, computer science is actually a possibility, though slightly less likely. Also, if you’re really lucky, you’ll get some in a standard microecon course — might be worth consulting with whichever professor teaches that.

    Beyond that, my first recommendation would be… dependent on whether or not you’re an intense math person. If you are, I’d recommend David Kreps’s A Course in Microeconomic Theory, which includes lots more than just game theory, but does include a lot of game theory, and is a great general micro text to boot. Kreps is also one of the top game theorists, like, ever, so pretty much anything he writes on the subject will be good.

    For a less mathey approach, I suggest another Kreps book — Game Theory and Economic Modeling, which reviews basic noncooperative game theory and some of the worries about its use. It’s also cheaper.

    I also have a weird fondness for the Weibull textbook in evolutionary game theory — chapter 1 is about traditional game theory, but it has a very different (and, yes, much mathier) presentation from the norm.

  8. Paul Gowder Says:

    Also, for actually being able to solve models, it really helps to do problem sets — you might think about asking to do an independent study w/ an econ prof.

    Also also it looks like there’s an MIT opencourseware course, which includes some other book references and lecture notes. Actually, it appears that there are several, including a probably-more-practically-oriented business school one. Although actually I don’t like the syllabus on the latter at all.

  9. Paul Gowder Says:

    Triple-also, judging from your e-mail address, it looks like the best bet at your school would be Advanced Economic Theory—Micro (Economics 326), and Osborne in your econ dpt. is a crackerjack g.t. guy.

  10. salacious Says:

    There’s also a pretty decent introductory game theory course over at OpenYaleCourses. Covers most of the basic models and algorithms.

  11. Stephen Bank Says:

    Wow! Thanks!

  12. Dan in Euroland Says:

    Roissy is not a generic example of this subculture. His “asshole” game is designed to attract a certain cadre of women, and will be less effective for attracting other groups of women.

    But what is game actually? Most of the PUA trainers actually just employ cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness therapy techniques. The goal is to reduce (eliminate) anxieties in hitting on chicks. For example one technique is exposure therapy. Talking to chicks will then help these dudes become less anxious in talking to chicks in the future. Having the PUA present forces the client to actually engage the woman.

    Is it self-delusion? I don’t think so, simply because using the aforementioned psychological techniques can reduce the various anxieties that can afflict men in the mating (dating) game.

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