Nomic: all you need to know

POSTED: July 30, 2020

Bouncing around on the web, searching for information, I took a wrong turn and ended up somewhere totally unexpected. As you do.

My search had begun with an attempt to learn more about memetics: more specifically, to track down stuff that I didn’t know about memetics and ought to. It ended up at a page about Douglas Hofstadter which, in turn, led me to a page about the game called Nomic.

The philosopher Peter Suber invented the game and, in his words

Nomic is a game in which changing the rules is a move. In that respect it differs from almost every other game. The primary activity of Nomic is proposing changes in the rules, debating the wisdom of changing them in that way, voting on the changes, deciding what can and cannot be done afterwards, and doing it. Even this core of the game, of course, can be changed.

He published the original rule-set in Douglas Hofstadter’s Scientific American column Metamagical Themas in June 1982. An interesting Wikipedia page summarises the purpose and history of the game.

It has inspired a lot of activity since its creation. Agora Nomic, for example began on 30 June 1993 and still continues. According to its website it currently has 22 players and 139 rules. Fortunately, as the website explains, “you are not expected to know all of them when you start”.

A quick mental calculation shows that people have played Agora Nomic continuously for over 27 years.

Oh look: my mind has just boggled.