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Gameism is a modern, practical philosophy derived from a tiny computation.

Computer science is modernizing every facet of society — finance, transport, healthcare. Gameism applies the same first-principles thinking to the world's oldest problem: what is the meaning of life, and how should I live it?

King looking off into the distance
King looking off into the distance

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  • A Symbolic Sandbox Game
    • How The Game Works

A Symbolic
Sandbox Game

The universe is a conceptual playground. You decide Who You Are, and the game generates everything you need to experience that concept of yourself.
How The Game Works

We'll begin by revisiting DALL·E — an AI system developed by one of the leading artificial intelligence research labs in the world, OpenAI.

This neural network observes an idea and generates a symbolic representation of that idea.

For example...

Idea: a professional high-quality illustration of a giraffe dragon chimera...

Symbols that DALL·E generates:

DALLE results

In this example, DALL·E observes three ideas (a giraffe + a dragon + a chimera) and generates a symbolic representation of those ideas...


DALL·E observes multiple ideas (a giraffe + a dragon + a chimera) and generates a symbol.

Here's another example...

Idea: an armchair in the shape of an avocado...

Symbols that DALL·E generates:

DALLE results

In this case, DALL·E combines the idea of an armchair with the idea of an avocado.


DALL·E observes multiple ideas (armchair + avocado) and generates a symbol.

Those examples were generated with the first version of DALL·E, released in January 2021. Just one year later, in April 2022, OpenAI released DALL·E 2. Here's what their improved AI system produces...

DALL·E example

Idea: A steampunk Furby, 3D render, studio lighting. (Source)

DALL·E example

Idea: Floating modern house in a broccoli tree up in the clouds. (Source)

DALL·E example

Idea: Aztec carving of darth vader flanked by stormtroopers. (Source)

DALL·E example

Idea: Birds in cybernetic battle armour (note: DALL·E received 9 prompts with 9 separate bird names, and this is a collage of the results) (Source)

DALL·E example

Idea: A still life scene of a table with a banana on a skateboard doing an ollie over a porcelain plate. (Source)

DALL·E example

Idea: An adventurer looks at an abandoned giant human skull in a dark cave, 4k digital art. (Source)

DALL·E example

Idea: Mona Lisa and Girl with a Pearl Earring taking selfies, oil painting from 1700. (Source)

DALL·E example

Idea: An ancient Egyptian painting depicting an argument over whose turn it is to take out the trash. (Source)

DALL·E example

Idea: Homer Simpson breaking the simulation. (Source)

DALL·E example

Idea: Children's drawing of Joe Rogan interviewing a carrot on his podcast. (Source)

DALL·E example

Idea: Spider-Man from Ancient Rome. (Source)

DALL·E example

Idea: Robot dinosaurs versus monster trucks in the colosseum. (Source)

DALL·E example

Idea: Square fruit. (Source)

DALL·E example

Idea: a raccoon astronaut with the cosmos reflecting on the glass of his helmet dreaming of the stars. (Source)

In that final image, someone fed DALL·E an input: a raccoon astronaut with the cosmos reflecting on the glass of his helmet dreaming of the stars. This input represents a conceptual idea.

DALL·E then observed the input and generated an emergent pattern of information — a visual symbol — to render on the screen.


Someone gave DALL·E an idea. DALL·E observed the idea and transformed it into a visual symbol.

Now, imagine you gave DALL·E two ideas: "I am unworthy of good things" and "money is a good thing". DALL·E would observe those abstract ideas and transform them into a symbol: your hands opening an empty wallet/bank account.


If money is a good thing, and you are unworthy of good things, then you are unworthy of money. Opening an empty wallet/bank account is a symbol of that conceptual idea.

Now let's remove the "typing the input" component and make the AI system observe itself...


We just created a mirror. This is how the universe works...

You observe a symbolic storyline in your external reality and transform it into the conceptual idea (belief): "I have no money. Therefore, I am unworthy."
The universe observes your conceptual idea (belief) and transforms it into a symbolic storyline: "You are unworthy. Therefore, you have no money."

This loop is self-reinforcing, so most people maintain a stable belief system that evolves slowly over time. Therefore, they don't notice their external reality rearranging in response. The changes are far too subtle — like watching a glacier move.

But Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) is an edge case that exposes the illusion. MPD patients instantly overwrite their internal model of reality when they switch personalities. And we can clearly observe the game adjusting in response...

In addition to possessing different brain-wave patterns, the sub-personalities of a multiple have strong psychological separation from one another. Each has his own name, age, memories and abilities. Often each also has his own style of handwriting, announced gender, cultural and racial background, artistic talents, foreign language fluency and IQ.

Even more noteworthy are the biological changes that take place in a multiple’s body when they switch personalities. Frequently a medical condition possessed by one personality will mysteriously vanish when another personality takes over. Dr. Bennett Braun of the International Society for the Study of Multiple Personality, in Chicago, has documented a case in which all of a patient’s subpersonalities were allergic to orange juice, except one. If the man drank orange juice when one of his allergic personalities was in control, he would break out in a terrible rash. But if he switched to his nonallergic personality, the rash would instantly start to fade and he could drink orange juice freely. [...]

Allergies are not the only thing multiples can switch on and off. If there was any doubt as to the control the unconscious mind has over drug effects, it is banished by the pharmacological wizardry of the multiple. By changing personalities, a multiple who is drunk can instantly become sober. Different personalities also respond differently to different drugs. Braun records a case in which 5 milligrams of diazepam, a tranquilizer, sedated one personality, while 100 milligrams had little or no effect on another. Often one or several of a multiple’s personalities are children, and if an adult personality is given a drug and then a child’s personality takes over, the adult dosage may be too much for the child and result in an overdose. It is also difficult to anesthetize some multiples, and there are accounts of multiples waking up on the operating table after one of their ‘unanesthetizable’ subpersonalities has taken over.

Other conditions that can vary from personality to personality include scars, burn marks, cysts, and left- and right-handedness. Visual acuity can differ, and some multiples have to carry two or three different pairs of eyeglasses to accommodate their alternating personalities. One personality can be color-blind and another not, and even eye color can change. There are cases of women who have two or three menstrual periods each month because each of their subpersonalities has its own cycle. Speech pathologist Christy Ludlow had found that the voice pattern for each of the multiple personalities is different, a feat that requires such a deep physiological change that even the most accomplished actor cannot alter his voice enough to disguise his voice pattern. One multiple, admitted to a hospital with diabetes, baffled her doctors by showing no symptoms when one of her nondiabetic personalities was in control. There are accounts of epilepsy coming and going with changes in personality, and psychologist Robert A. Philips, Jr., reports that even tumors can appear and disappear (although he does not specify what kind of tumors).

When a multiple shifts from a personality that believes "I have blue eyes," to a personality that believes "I have brown eyes," she disrupts the self-reinforcing loop. This throws the system out of equilibrium and into a state of chaos — like a fish out of water...


The multiple's external reality symbolizes the idea "I have blue eyes," but they internally believe "I have brown eyes." This mismatch generates free energy (surprise), which throws the system out of equilibrium. Think about how shocked you'd be if you looked in the mirror right now and saw a different eye color than the one you believe yourself to have.

The universe has one objective: maintain equilibrium. Therefore, it will rearrange the information structure (i.e. the external game world) until it's in a self-reinforcing loop again.


The multiple believes "I have brown eyes," and her external reality mirrors that belief. The universe is in equilibrium because there's no more free energy in the system.

I want to make this abundantly clear:

If the observer 👁️ and the observed 🏠 are the same thing, then space and time don't physically exist.

And if space and time don't physically exist, then neither do you.

Therefore, Who You Are is just an abstract collection of beliefs about Who You Are. You are a purely conceptual idea in the mind of a superintelligence.

Look out into the world around you. Everything you observe is a symbol being continuously generated by a neural network like DALL·E. This system is observing the trillions of individual beliefs that form your internal model of reality (e.g. "My name is Jane. I am currently sitting on a bridge overlooking the ocean, etc."). It's combining these ideas together and generating a visceral, see-it-smell-it-hear-it-taste-it-touch-it representation of your beliefs.

If you pick up an apple and hold it in your hand, your internal model of reality changes. You now believe you're holding an apple in your hand. Therefore, the system generates a symbolic representation of the conceptual idea: "I am holding an apple in my hand."

But remember — you're not actually holding an apple in your hand. That's logically impossible in a non-dual universe where space and time don't fundamentally exist. The apple is an emergent pattern of information — a symbol — representing the conceptual idea of a tasty fruit.


You subconsciously believe, "I am holding an apple in my hand," so the universe generates that external reality.

This is why I refer to the universe as a conceptual playground. Think about it this way...

Your avatar (which is just a symbolic representation of "you") allows you to run around in a virtual world, interacting and playing with other ideas (people, objects, environments) using a symbolic interface.

For example, when you bake an apple pie in the game, your avatar is interacting with symbols. But what you're actually doing is combining the conceptual idea of apples with the conceptual idea of pastry, sugar, and heat in the lower dimension. The universe is observing this new conceptual idea and generating a symbol to represent it: an apple pie.


You combine apples, sugar, pastry, and heat together via a symbolic interface. The game observes those combined ideas and generates a symbolic representation of the new idea: an apple pie.

Or think about something more technical, like DNA. DNA is a symbolic representation of the conceptual idea of beliefs being "passed down" to offspring. For example, I inherited the belief "I have blue eyes" from my parents, and that idea is represented in my DNA. I'm a 30-year-old single woman (I spent my twenties exploring the idea of reverse-engineering my own existence by following a trail of clues around the virtual world. I wouldn't have produced Gameism if I'd explored the idea of motherhood instead. Which is why I'm thankful that my society chooses to respect the idea of women's rights). If I end up marrying a man with blue eyes, there's a high probability that our children will inherit our belief. Their avatars would manifest blue eyes, and each child's DNA would symbolize that inherited idea.

Thus, when biological wizards edit genes in a lab, they're actually editing ideas via a symbolic interface. And we just learned that observers 👁️ with Multiple Personality Disorder can adjust their eye color by adjusting their internal model of reality (i.e. the underlying idea that generates their symbolic avatar). So what does that tell us about DNA?

I know this mental model is incredibly meta, but it helps you see life for what it really is: an infinitely flexible sandbox game.

Sandbox Game
Sandbox GameWikipedia

A sandbox game is a video game with a gameplay element that provides the player a great degree of creativity to interact with, usually without any predetermined goal, or alternatively with a goal that the player sets for themselves. Such games may lack any objective, and are sometimes referred to as non-games or software toys. [...] Rather than 'winning' a game, a sandbox design allows player to 'complete' a game by exploring and actualizing all of its options. [...]

Game historian Steve Breslin describes "the metaphor [as] a child playing in a sandbox ... produc[ing] a world from sand", compared to games with more fully formed content. [...] This can distinguish it from conventional ideas of a game, where the metaphorical sandbox is a "play space in which people can try on different roles and imaginary quests ... rather than a 'game' to play."

Needless to say, you don't control the universal game with clicks, taps, or swipes. Instead, you express choices through thought, word, and action — all things that modify your internal model of reality.

For example, let's say you want to explore the idea, "I am a successful entrepreneur with a thriving business". The game can generate that reality for you. In fact, it can generate any reality for you.

But it won't generate that reality if you sit on your couch doing nothing. If you never take any action towards your vision, you'd be surprised to wake up tomorrow with a thriving multi-million-dollar business. You'd be like, "Who are these employees? They're mine?! I have employees? And products? And customers? Where did this all come from? What's happening? Am I going crazy?"


If you woke up tomorrow with a thriving business that you never started, you'd be surprised — which is why that reality won't manifest.

Remember: the gaming engine is observing your model of reality and transforming it into a symbolic storyline that minimizes your surprise. If you believe "I am sitting on a couch with no business," the gaming engine will say "okay, you are." It will give you a physical experience of sitting on a couch with no business.

Hence, you can think of the gaming engine as a genie in a lamp. You program the rules of your game with your beliefs ("I am..."), and the gaming engine says "okay" to your rules, transforming them into a symbolic storyline for you to immerse yourself in. It will generate all the environments, objects, situations, and circumstances required to experience that conceptual idea about yourself.

The genie in Aladdin

Here are some examples...

You: I am a successful high-end real estate agent.

Gaming engine: Okay, you are. Here's everything you need to experience yourself as a successful high-end real estate agent: the dream clients, the best properties with large commissions, the perfect buyers for those properties, the ideas to attract those buyers, etc.

You: I desperately want to be a millionaire.

Gaming engine: Okay, you do. Here's everything you need to experience yourself as desperately wanting to be a millionaire: get rich quick schemes, terrible ideas and terrible advice that lead to failure, not having a million dollars in your bank account no matter how hard you try.

You: I am a struggling actor.

Gaming engine: Okay, you are! Here's everything you need to experience yourself as a struggling actor: the auditions that seldom amount to anything, the lack of respect, the lack of consistent income.

You: There's never enough time!

Gaming engine: Okay, there isn't! Here's everything you need to experience yourself as never having enough time: the long meetings, interruptions, an overflowing inbox full of trivial emails, your kids getting sick, your car breaking down and needing to be fixed, etc.

You: My life is an incredible adventure full of mystery, intrigue, serendipity, romance, and magic.

Gaming engine: Okay, it is. Here is a sequence of quests, characters, and storylines to give you a magical life full of mystery, serendipity, and romance: the handsome prince, the clues hidden in old books, the whimsical travel, the serendipitous collision of fate between two strangers.

You probably have many questions about how the gaming engine works: "But what about that time when I truly believed X, but Y smacked me in the face instead? My surprise wasn't minimized there!"

Or perhaps you're experiencing surprise right now: a gap between what you internally believe to be true ("I live in a physical, material world") and what my logic tells you is true ("I live in a virtual game world"). If the system is minimizing surprise, then you might be wondering how these words manifested in your game.

Just so you know, I'm keeping this explanation reasonably high level at the moment. There's a lot more nuance to this. The gaming engine isn't just minimizing your free energy (surprise) — it's minimizing the collective free energy and the future free energy in the system, which can generate all kinds of unpredictable circumstances. I'll unpack some of this nuance later when I explain how the storyline of your life is constructed, and how retrocausal loops work (i.e. how your future creates your past via the choices you make in your present moment).

Now, let's refer to this diagram of Darwin's theory of evolution...

Diagram 1

The organism (represented by the red line) has an accurate model of its external world (represented by the grey area). It "fits" the environment perfectly.

Diagram 2

The environment changes. Now the gap between the external world, and the organism's internal model of the world, generates "free energy" (represented in black).

Diagram 3

The organism with the most accurate model of its environment (i.e. the one with long spikes) survives & reproduces. Its long-spiked model is passed down to offspring. This creates a new homeostatic set point in the system from which the next stage of evolution occurs.

Nature evolves slowly because most organisms can't generate much free energy. They're locked in a self-reinforcing loop. Their internal model says, "I am a fish," so the gaming engine gives them a symbolic experience of being a fish over and over and over again.

This dynamic creates a highly stable game that gradually mutates as tiny amounts of free energy are generated and minimized over billions of years.


The fish observes an under-the-sea environment and forms the belief, "I live in water and do fishy things." The gaming engine then transforms that belief into an under-the-sea environment. This stable read/write loop repeats over and over and over again. The fish isn't intelligent enough to see beyond its current reality and imagine itself as anything other than a fish.

Now let's introduce humans into the system. At first, we were apes, adapting to our environment in a stable self-reinforcing loop (just like a fish). But then we began to "wake up." We realized we didn't have to adapt to our environment — we were intelligent enough to create our environment.

You see, humans can deliberately imagine a reality far removed from what is showing up in their external world. In other words, we can deliberately generate free energy (surprise) — a gap between what we internally believe to be true, and what our senses tells us is true. We call this having a "vision."

If that vision is expressed through thought, word, and action, the universal gaming engine will self-organize to reduce free energy — thereby manifesting the vision into physical form.

Take Henry Ford, for example...


Ford internally lived in a world where cars had replaced horses, even though his external world contradicted it. He expressed that model of reality through thought, word, and action. This generated free energy (surprise). The universal gaming engine self-organized to reduce free energy. In doing so, it manifested cars.

Think about it...

Everything man-made around you — the cities, the computers, the books, the supply chains, the economy, these words — once existed as an idea in someone's imagination. Over time, that idea was expressed through thought, word, and action until it was no longer surprising for it to appear in physical form. The more intelligent humans became, the more free energy they could generate and the more creative power they gained.

For instance, when the internet was invented, it was no longer surprising for ordinary people to send and receive information across the globe. This idea created an explosion of new ideas (like social networks, ecommerce, online games) as the system evolved to a new homeostatic set point.

In fact, Gameism is the perfect demonstration of this. Reverse-engineering the universe was not a career choice for me — it was a fun intellectual chew toy to gnaw on in my twenties. I'm an autodidact with no formal education or credibility. Producing this avant-garde work — let alone distributing it outside of a university — would have been way too surprising a century ago.

Oh, and my name's Nikki Durkin, by the way. This is me, sitting behind my laptop, writing these words...

Now, most creation in human history came about through trial and error. We were playing a computer game and we had no idea what the mathematical rules of the game were. So we'd blindly bop around, bump into things, and complain that there was no rhyme or reason to any of it.

But once you understand the rules of a game, you can hack it. As my mother always told me, "Knowledge is leverage, and leverage is power." And as Archimedes once said, "Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand and I will move the earth."

So here's how reality-creation works. It's a 3-step process:

The universe is in balanced equilibrium.
You express a new model of reality through thought / word / action. This generates free energy, which throws the system out of equilibrium and into a state of chaos.
The universe self-organizes to restore equilibrium. In doing so, it transforms chaos (free energy) back into stable, predictable order (see-it-taste-it-touch-it reality) via the path of least surprise.

In other words, a sorceress mathematically forces the gaming engine to manifest her chosen reality. She does this by mastering free energy: how to generate it, manipulate it, redistribute it, subjugate it, calmly & methodically direct it. She controls chaos, instead of letting chaos control her.

Let me walk you through an example...

Jane believes "I am unworthy of love," and "relationships are painful," and "there are no good men out there." Those beliefs generate an emotionally abusive, manipulative boyfriend in her game. Relative to the symbol (her boyfriend), she can experience herself as being unworthy of love and having a painful relationship with a man who isn't "good."


Jane processes the abusive boyfriend symbol and assigns it the meaning "I am unworthy of love." The gaming engine says, "Okay, you are," and continues generating that symbol in her game.

One day, the boyfriend dumps Jane. This makes her feel even more unworthy.

Six months later, she's in another emotionally abusive relationship, this time with a different man.


Because she still believes "I am unworthy of love," and "relationships are painful," and "there are no good men out there," the game generates another abusive partner.

I call this pattern "different places, different faces, same thing." Jane has changed her internal model on a superficial level (i.e. she now believes "I am with a new partner"). But because she hasn't addressed the deeper, abstract idea about herself ("I am unworthy of love"), she generates a symbol with the same underlying essence. Relative to the new partner, she can continue experiencing herself as unworthy of love.

Remember this example from DALL·E?

Idea: an armchair in the shape of an avocado...

Symbols that DALL·E generates:

DALLE results

Notice how DALL·E generates many symbols representing the same underlying idea. The superficial qualities may differ, but these symbols are still avocado armchairs. Hence: different places, different faces, same thing.

If Jane doesn't want an avocado armchair in her game anymore, she needs to stop typing "avocado armchair" into DALL·E. She does this by changing internally.

She observes exactly the same symbol (the abusive boyfriend) and assigns a different meaning to it: "This emotionally abusive relationship no longer reflects Who I Am. I am worthy of love and harmony in my relationships, and I believe that's possible to find."


Jane changes her internal model of reality, even though the abusive boyfriend is still in her game. This generates free energy.

This new concept of Self initially starts as a thought. She expresses that thought in words by standing up for herself and dumping her boyfriend. She expresses those words through action by packing up her stuff and moving out. When other abusive men try to woo her, she doesn't give them her time and attention because she now believes she is worth more.

Jane generates free energy by changing Who She Is relative to the "abusive boyfriend" symbol. She creates a gap between what she internally believes to be true ("I am worthy of love") and what her external reality tells her is true ("You are unworthy of love").

If she continues expressing that new idea about herself, the game will transform her self-concept into a symbolic storyline and write that storyline into her game. She'll meet a partner who gives her a physical experience of being loved and living in harmony.


Jane expresses the belief, "I am worthy of love and harmony in my relationships." The gaming engine says "okay, you are" and generates a loving, harmonious relationship.

If we continue with our avocado armchair metaphor, it's like Jane has now requested a different "flavor" of armchair (boyfriend). Here is her new idea and the resulting symbol...

Idea: an armchair in the shape of a strawberry...

Symbols that DALL·E generates:

DALLE results

I want to stress this point: most people think their actions create their results in a linear cause-and-effect way. Given this, they spend a lot of time moving stuff around in the external world to "make it happen."

But your actions don't create your results. Instead, your actions change your internal model of reality, which generates free energy, which the gaming engine minimizes — and that creates your results. It's a very convincing illusion.

Hence, you can rearrange the external world as much as you like. But unless your actions generate free energy towards your intention, you'll end up like Jane and her abusive boyfriends — different places, different faces, same thing.

Given this, our current scientific paradigm — Materialism — is equivalent to Windows 95. It's a bloated, buggy, legacy operating system that kinda works. But it's also kinda slow, limiting, and logically unsound.

By contrast, Gameism is engineered from just three lines of epistemic code. It's a modern, minimal, insanely powerful operating system for human consciousness.

When you run your mind on Gameism OS, the only limits to your potential are the ones you place on yourself.

The Core Concepts
  • Icon
    Life Is A Game

    Life is an infinitely flexible sandbox game, and you are a player.

  • Icon
    Your Mission & Toolkit

    Your mission is to create, and experience, Who You Really Are. The three tools of creation are thought / word / action.

  • Icon
    The Game Mechanic

    The game is constantly generating quests / characters / objects / circumstances to be used in the construction of Self. Who You Are is defined by how you think, speak, and act relative to everything you encounter.

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    Choice & Consequence

    There is no right or wrong way to play the game. There is only choice and consequence. All choices have mathematical consequences that will eventually manifest in the game. What seems like karma, luck, or coincidence to you is nothing more than a computation playing out.

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    Mastering The Game

    The computation is minimizing "free energy" — a mathematical measure of surprise. Therefore, you can master (and "hack") the game by learning to manipulate, rearrange, redistribute, and utterly control free energy.

    This is a nuanced skill, but generally speaking it involves using thought / word / action to craft a version of yourself that would not experience surprise if you were to observe your desire manifesting in the game. For example, if you dream of becoming a millionaire, ask yourself this question: "Would I experience shock, surprise, disbelief, or a foreign unfamiliar feeling (e.g. worthiness) if I checked my bank account right now and my balance was over $1,000,000?" If the answer is "yes," then you've got work to do.

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    Focus On Self

    Hence, mastering the game involves mastering yourself. Masters understand that it doesn’t matter what others are being, doing, having, saying, wanting, demanding. It doesn't matter what the game is manifesting around you. It only matters what you are being in relationship to that. Always, always, always remain focused on Self.

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    Mastery Is A Process

    The game will constantly call you to create, express, and experience higher and higher aspects of yourself, grander and grander visions of yourself, ever more evolved versions of yourself. Thus, mastery is a process  —  an internal state of being  —  not a final destination. You are on a journey to nowhere.

  • This short introduction to Gameism only scratches the surface — and for some people, that's enough.

    But if you're ready to dive deeper, then I'm ready to teach you everything I know.

    Oh, and I'm warning you: I've seen people go into near-catatonic states when I install this OS in their mind. So strap yourself in. This is going to be a wild ride.


    Send your friends down the rabbit hole...


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    The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.

    Magic is just science that we don't understand yet.
    Arthur C. Clarke
    Arthur C. ClarkeSci-fi author, inventor & futurist
    A jar with a galaxy in it
    Gameism book

    Gameism OS

    A modern, minimal, insanely powerful operating system for human consciousness.
    The Prelude

    I've already laid out the logic underpinning Gameism. But while my logic is clean, life is messy.

    Gameism OS is not an academic paper. It is not a theory on a whiteboard. It was not written in an ivory tower. It teaches a practical philosophy — an upgraded way of seeing and interacting with the world.

    So you might understand Gameism on an intellectual level. But to truly know something — to transform knowledge into wisdom — one has to embody the knowledge and experience it for themselves.

    Gameism is an indie project by Nikki Durkin