A life full of finite games


In his book Finite and Infinite Games, James P. Carse makes the case that there are basically two kinds of games.

In finite games, the goal is to end the game and win as quickly as possible. In infinite games, the goal is to keep the game going for as long as possible.

Finite games are easy to think of: baseball, checkers, boxing. Infinite games are harder to conceptualize at first. Tag is an example of an infinite game, but infinite games also include family, friendship, business, and religion.

So here’s the question. Which of the parts of your life are you treating like a finite game, and which are you treating like an infinite game? The reward for doing well at an infinite game is that you get to keep playing. Is that how you treat your relationships? Is that how you think of your job?

A life full of finite games is hollow. Infinite games bring meaning into your life.