The rules of an infinite game must change in the course of a game. The rules are changed when the players of an infinite game agree that the play is imperilled by a finite outcome – that is, victory of some players and the defeat of others.*
We not only create stories or metaphors for life, we create them as metaphors for a meaningful life. To live meaningfully is to be at perpetual risk. […]. If, should the protagonist fail, life would be back to normal, the story is not worth telling.**
Ursula Franklin wonders why we have birth control but not machine control, human demography but not machine demography. It’s one example, she believes, of how our thinking has changed:
Just as prescriptive technologies have, in the real world of technology, over-whelmed holistic ones, so have production models now become almost the only pattern of guidance for public and private thought and action.^
When James Carse writes about infinite games, he is thinking more about people at the heart of holistic and growth technologies. To use his argument of infinite players knowing that sometimes they have to play finite games, sometimes we must use more prescriptive and production technologies, but in service of people. Obversely, Carse points out, finite players struggle to see a bigger game, an infinite one. Here is our dilemma when in the heartland of continent of finite thinking, we do no know there are oceans and beyond.
Robert McKee is also imagining growth and holism over prescription and production when he writes of how we are searching for meaningful life and want our stories and metaphors to reflect this – these would be technologies in Franklin’s way of thinking. When McKee writes about risk, he is imagining growth, and when he mentions normal, he is thinking of prescription. Growth requires risk, taking us into the unknown, stretching into the plentiful-more, and then, as Lewis Hyde points out:
The revelation of plenitude calls for a revelation of mind.^^
We grow, we change, we transform.
(*From James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.)
(*From Robert McKee‘s newsletter: A Little Risk Goes a Long Way.)
^From Ursula Franklin’s The Real World of Technology.)
(^^From Lewis Hyde’s Trickster Makes This World.)