Finite & Infinite Games


The main concepts of this idea are taken from James P. Carse's book Finite & Infinite Games.

Finite Games are played with the objective of winning.

Infinite Games are played with the goal of perpetuating the game itself.

At its core, existence is the ultimate Infinite Game—a continuous endeavor to sustain the game of life itself.

Within this broader context, we encounter numerous Finite Games, which society often conditions us to view through a lens of winners and losers.

Usually, we're encouraged to aim for a clear goal, whether it's as individuals, countries, groups, or families, within set limits.

Yet, often it is possible and more enriching to reframe our actions as part of Infinite Games.

They are not limited by boundaries. Instead, they use these boundaries as tools for continuous adaptation and change, making sure we stay active in a constantly changing world.

Think about society: The Finite Game is all about getting personal status and wealth, using past successes to gain power.

On the other hand, the Infinite Game is about constantly learning about oneself, making communities better, and encouraging changes in culture for the future.

In the business realm, Finite Games appear in the race to IPOs, competition with peers, and operations within strict limits.

On the other hand, the Infinite Game focuses on creating a legacy that outlives its founders and expanding a vision that surpasses immediate horizons.

“There are at least two kinds of games: finite and infinite. A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play.“

— James P. Carse

“To be prepared against surprise is to be trained. To be prepared for surprise is to be educated.“

— James P. Carse

Here are 3 other concepts you might benefit from:

The Streetlight Effect

Via Negativa

Causal Reductionism