is a (Nobel prize winning) novel by HermannHesse
. It is also the key image in that novel: a game played by associating ideas around which an entire society is built.
A prototypical arrangement (made with just a few lines of code in VisualPython
nodes indicate current activity. These nodes are random
, but in an actual Game, Players link nodes together forming "attractors" in a SelfOrganizing
system. Actual game rules (from an undisclosed German author) can be found. But skip to "RULES" below.
- "Setting his story in the distant, post-Holocaust future, Hesse tells of an elite cult of intellectuals occupying themselves with an elaborate game that employs all the cultural and scientific knowledge of the ages. The most imaginative and prophetic of Hesse's works."
Paperback: ISBN 080501246X
; Hardback: ISBN 084466524X
Just a quibble: Nobel prizes in literature are not awarded for or to books, rather to authors for a body of work.
And there's "Hermann Hesse's Futuristic Idealism. the Glass Bead Game and Its Predecessors (European University Papers. Series 1: German Language and Literature)"
by Roger Norton
See also: The Glass Bead Game Wiki http://www.ludism.org/gbgwiki/
and a portal http://www.glassbeadgame.com/
The Glass Bead Game is an immense PhysicsOfInformation
, representing the gamut of humanity's knowledge and its on-going, perpetual relationship to the social sphere - embodying an EpistemicsOfQuantity
Here is a translated version using wiki:
1) Each wiki page represents a bead
. If the wiki were WhatItWantsToBe
pages/beads would tend towards roundedness
, while idea
(or "concept") beads would have corners. (AskYourself?
: is the web itself, with its square screen, a bunch of beads?)
2) A bead can be voted up or down (ex. ThumbsUp
). As they are voted up, the bead gets bigger by a one unit (voted down, smaller). VisualizeTheWiki
3) Beads can be WikiLink
ed together to form associations
proportional to number of links. This forms clustering
. Note this force is not equal in both directions, because it gets multiplied by the CreatorAsOwner
4) Beads can be clasped together and contained, forming groups
(add a CategoryWikiTag
) or broken into smaller beads (by AddingNewPages
These are the three primary actions on the beads (voting
, and grouping
). You'll see that wiki already embodies much of these rules naturally, which is likely why it is so powerful. But, you can't have the GBG without a ThreeDimensionalVisualizationModel
(Spoiler: With just these simple rules, there's a SelfOrganizing
dynamic that tends to create constellations of linked content, orbiting around a center of authority.)
What is a bead then?
It is a little universe of its own. One can enter a bead, and view its contents: a movie, a stub of an article, etc. A little life inside the bead.
The key element, however, not discussed in the book, is how the beads relate to the RealWorld
. The Internet has unconsciously implemented part of it, with the wiki going further. Help me implement it in its totality: the PangaiaProject
As the book says in the Introduction: "reproducing in the Game ... the entire intellectual content of the universe". For the complete ruleset for the Game see PangaiaWorldGame
While speaking to RichardDrake
in the pub the other night, I was reminded of the GBG and some attempts to run games over the web.
There are in the US a number of people who want to play
. They have a couple of mailing lists (one of which I used to contribute to quite frequently, before Wiki consumed my soul ;). A couple of years back, I went to the States for the express purpose of meeting some of these people, interesting folk.
Some of these people have devised various GBG sets ("set" as in snakes-and-ladders set), to enable people to approximate the game. In Hesse's novel, the game is highly ritualised and has an invented formal language associated with it. Some of the realised games follow this route. One is like a card game, one is a board game, see http://home.earthlink.net/~hipbone/
and one is highly formalised, see http://www36.pair.com/waldzell/GBG/index.html
There were for a while a few attempts to use the web as a medium for game playing: a "move" would be a URL, more or less, but I don't remember any of them being successful, I believe because there was too much bureaucracy involved in submitting a move to a moderator and so on. However, when discussing the open nature of Wiki and its relatives (and some of the responses to that openness we had seen) with Richard I realised that a Wiki may well be the ideal
electronic medium for a GBG, and that, unintentionally, the WikiWikiWeb is
the closest thing to a GlassBeadGame
, in function and spirit, (albeit focussed on a particular domain) I have yet seen. -- KeithBraithwaite
See "Little Manual for Players of the Glass Bead Game: The Way of Visual Contemplation"
by George Pennington
I have read that Hesse was quite annoyed that people would ask him how they could play the GlassBeadGame
. -- RobertField
No doubt. That's like asking LewisCarroll where the rabbit hole is. While I liked all the GBGers I met in the states, and while their many games were interesting and worth-while as games, I did at the back of my mind have the feeling that somehow they just didn't get it (not that I would claim to). -- KeithBraithwaite
Hi Keith! Good to read you again. -- HipBone
. Hi Charles, its good to be read by you again. How did you find your way to the Wiki?
I'm participating in a seminar on knowledge management as part of Howard Rheingold's "brainstorms" online community, the topic of the GBG came up, and someone on "our" wiki http://www.voght.com/cgi-bin/pywiki?GlassBeadGame
mentioned that there was a synchronous mention in "another" wiki, referencing this page. -- HipBone
Robert, I wrote a longish piece about this issue [fashioning playable variants after Hesse's Game] a while back, see http://home.earthlink.net/~hipbone/Consider.html
Basically, Hesse (a) claimed to have played the game himself, in an autobiographical poem, and (b) appears to have derived it from a game (a physical game, in a box, with moving parts) devised by an artist friend of his called Max Bucherer. Neither of these facts leads me to suppose that we'll ever be able to play "Hesse's GBG" as such, but both encourage me to think devising playable variants is a worthwhile endeavor.
I also find it fascinating that ChristopherAlexander
was writing about the need for a Glass Bead Game before the publication of "A PatternLanguage
", and that JohnHolland
is on record as saying that he hopes his life work (in genetic algorithms &c) will add up to a GBG... -- HipBone