Changing The Rules *Is* The Game

In case it hasn’t been sufficiently established, I’m a geek. Maybe you are too. Among other things, I’m perenially fascinated by self-referential humor and reflexivity.



And emergent behavior, and self-modifying systems. And storytelling. And harnessing competitive urges to create collective benefits.1

And game design.

That’s where this all comes together today. I’m in an experimental mood, so, inspired ultimately by Nomic2 and more recently by GC Gamers Connect and TGIK Games, I present a tiny experimental self-modifying game right here in my own comments. Mind. Blown.

Seriously, though. I’d love to see how this plays out, so if you’re at all interested please take a quick look and join the game in the comments section below.



1 A good trade is a simple example. Each person thinks he’s getting the better end of the bargain, and somehow everybody wins.

2 A game where changing the rules is a move, invented in 1982 by philosopher Peter Suber.


  1. Each comment thread represents one rule. Anyone can reply with either “APPROVED” or a proposed restatement of the rule. For each rule, only the latest version immediately followed by an “APPROVED” reply (if any) is in effect. Note: An “APPROVED” can still have a reply proposing a new change.


  2. No player may reply to his or her own post (either to approve or propose a change), except that the first person to post any rules may reply to up to three of his or her own posts.


  3. If there are five or more threads not ending in “APPROVED” the only legal moves are to approve or propose a change to an existing rule. Otherwise anyone may propose a new rule by starting a new comment thread.


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