by Niki Harré
All life is a game. Or is it? If so, what type of game? How do you play and win? Or is winning not important?
These are some of the questions that must have rattled around Niki Harré’s mind before she conceived the ideas behind writing ‘The Infinite Game’. And she answers these questions quite early on in the book.
The first part of the book is a dry read and it will take a persistent reader to get through it without bouts of nodding off. But she makes her point: competition sucks. What Harré calls ‘finite’ games have an end-point, winners and losers, less of the first, many many more of the second, which, looked at in that way, is a mug’s game. But we all get trapped in these games, so much so, we forget there might be another way. The alternative is to live in a world we create where winning is more about the process of life than the end result. Where people come and go without competition. Where we live together well, the infinite game. That is Harré’s message.
The second part of the book is far more personal and the dry style is dropped. And it is far shorter. But how many readers will make it to the second part (which, by the way, is only the last quarter or so of the book)?
Personally, I liked the chapter about the Trickster best of all – how we get seduced into playing by the rules of one or more finite games even when we think we’re in total sympathy with switching to an infinite game. Sigh.
This is a semi-academic book with a nod to the ordinary reader interested in a better way of life (and of bringing up our children). Perhaps bits of the second part could have been inserted into the first to lighten up the load. The message Harré conveys is a message worthy of dissemination.
I heartily recommend the book’s ideas and the second part conveys Harré’s humility in bringing these ideas forth. If interested, do persist. And if we all carry out her recommendations, maybe, just maybe, we’ll create a more friendly world devoid of much unnecessary stress.
Author: Niki Harré
Publisher: Auckland University Press