The Center for Ludic Synergy


The Center for Ludic Synergy exists...

To foster awareness of Life as Game:

It is a central tenet of Hindu thought that the Universe is a great illusion -- a gargantuan divine game of Hide-and-Seek in which pure consciousness eternally hides from itself. The Hindu term for this eternal game is Lila.

The Center for Ludic Synergy wholeheartedly endorses this Game. Boo!

To discover and promote positive and salvific life games:

The founder of the CLS once knew a Vietnam veteran who was plunged into despair for many years after the war. He was on the verge of suicide, but a game saved his life. He taught himself Reversi (also called Othello) and eventually played in the national championships. He said that Reversi gave him a reason to get out of bed.

Eric Berne describes many negative and destructive life games in his book Games People Play. Such games can lead to madness, despair, and death. But Berne only mentions two or three positive life games. There are many, many more, and the Center for Ludic Synergy aims to reveal and promote them.

To nurture and promote GBGs:

One of the most important kinds of positive game is the GBG. A GBG is an "artgame" inspired by Hermann Hesse's novel The Glass Bead Game. GBGs attempt to unite science, art, philosophy, mathematics, and spirituality into a single grand synthesis. They play with the contents of our global culture in the same way that a painter uses paints.

Just as the Free Software Foundation developed the recursive acronym "GNU" (for "GNU's Not Unix") as its name for the software that eventually became part of the GNU/Linux system, for trademark-related reasons, so the Center for Ludic Synergy has generated the recursive acronym "GBG," which stands for "Great Big GBG," as our term for the class of games that are inspired by, but not limited to, Hermann Hesse's concept of the Glass Bead Game.

Another advantage of the term "GBG" for this class of games, besides avoiding potential trademark issues, is that it entirely sidesteps the question, common in flame wars on GBG-related mailing lists, of which gameforms "are" or "are not" "real" Glass Bead Games. We are inventing the category of GBGs ourselves, so leaving aside games that are obviously not GBGs, such as checkers, anything that claims to be a GBG probably is.

To establish ludic synergy:

The principle of melding subgames into a great Supergame is called "ludic synergy." The Center wants to establish ludic synergy everywhere, so that we can all swing from game to game without ever leaving the great Game Jungle, like Tarzan on a vine.

To this end, we aim to meld GBG gameforms into a grand synthesis called the GBGBG. "GBG" stands for "Great Big GBG," which stands for "Great Big, Great Big, GBG," and so on. The GBGBG is the next level of the GBG, the Supergame.

To further the study of transfinite games and metagames:

Transfinite games, in CLS terminology, represent a loose class of games in which the rules allow changing of the rules. One classic example is Peter Suber's game Nomic. Others include the traditional card game Mao, and the commercial German game Das Regeln Wir Schön ("We'll Settle This Yet!").

Metagames represent an even broader class of games in which a turn or round consists of playing a subgame. Nomic falls into this class also (in some of its incarnations -- the rules change, of course). GBGs can sometimes also be considered metagames.

To spread the philosophy of Ludism:

All of the above ideas, plus some more that haven't been discovered yet, constitute the philosophy of Ludism. Ludism itself is a game, and its goal is to spread Ludism.

And finally, to act as non-profit umbrella for game creators and game thinkers:

The Center for Ludic Synergy plans to incorporate eventually as a non-profit artistic and/or educational organisation (maybe even a religious one). As you can see, it is hard to fit the GBG into a single category. For this reason, it is difficult for GBG creators to find a non-profit umbrella organisation to sponsor them and their gameforms. The Center hopes to be that organisation. Potential benefits include artistic grants, tax breaks, and all the other benefits accruing from non-profit incorporation in the United States.

Incorporating as a non-profit organisation is difficult, time-consuming, and potentially expensive, so this is a medium-range goal for the Center. One thing we can do for GBG creators and philosophers right now, however, is offer them web space, and optionally a shell account with email access. For example, if your GBG is called GeeBeeGee, you can have a website called <http://geebeegee.ludism.org/> and an email address of geebeegee@ludism.org. (These are not real addresses, just examples.)

Note that the Center is only making this offer to game creators and philosophers of gaming. If you just want free web space and email, we recommend you try GeoCities or similar sites. If you do fit the description, however, or you think the Center is doing good work and would like to make a contribution of time, skills, materials, or money, contact the Center's director, Ron Hale-Evans, at rwhe@apocalypse.org.

Ludites unite!

Pages hosted by the Center:

Glass Bead Game Links ... Here you will find links to many other GBG-related sites.

Game Links ... Links to pages about unusual games that might be of interest to Ludists and other people who like to have their brains stretched.

Ludology Links ... Ludology encompasses not only the academic discipline of game theory, which focuses on strategy, but also game design, game variants, the study of mutators and operators, and so on.

Positive Revolution FAQ ... The Center sponsors the FAQ for the Positive Revolution, which is a non-partisan political movement aimed at making a global difference for the better, without violence.

Basic Ludist Reading List ... Some very good books with a Ludist slant.

Seattle Cosmic Game Night ... There is a game night affiliated with the Center, every Saturday night at 7:00 PM in the Seattle area. Our primary game is Cosmic Encounter, but we play a lot of other games. Check out some newsletters and photos from previous game nights. They include reviews and photos of games we've played, links to buy some of the games, and more.

GBGs Hosted by the Center:

Kennexions ... This is the GBG created by the founder of the Center himself.

We hope many other GBG creators will add their web pages to this site. Remember, the Center for Ludic Synergy is an umbrella organisation, and we have web space available for your GBG or other web page related to Ludism.

Supporting the Center:

The Center for Ludic Synergy and Seattle Cosmic Game Night are now associates of Funagain Games. This means that 5% of your purchase there goes toward supporting us if you buy games via the links on the following pages or the Funagain logo at the bottom of the page.

Even if you don't want to buy the games, the Funagain pages often contain lengthy, useful game reviews.

Maintainer: Ron Hale-Evans, rwhe@apocalypse.org
Page last updated 25 November 2000.