This post is a continuation of my series on Game. It is motivated in part by a desire to continue the discussion started in my previous posts on the subject here and here, and also in response to Deep Strength’s first post and second post on the subject. [In case folks weren’t aware, Deep Strength, a regular commenter here and elsewhere in the ‘sphere, has started his own blog. You can find it here.] This post is going to meander a bit, mostly because I have scattered thoughts and not so much a coherent argument to bring forth on the subject. Everything adds up to reach an overall conclusion, but it won’t be as polished as is my norm. You’ve been warned.
II. What’s in a Name?
One problem that consistently plagues any discussion of Game is what it bloody well means. You know its bad when you realize you’ve said something along the lines of that sentence many times before. Definition is a serious problem, because it sets the scope of debate. It is usually easier to agree on what Game is than what it isn’t. What Roosh does is obviously Game, and no one contests that. I think that most would agree that the various methods employed by Roissy to keep a STR going would also be considered Game. But when someone like Joseph of Jackson adopts some of the things he learned to find a potential wife, is that Game? When Dalrock, Keoni Galt and SAM (Elspeth‘s husband) put their respective wives in their place, is that Game? This is far from clear. Some would argue yes, and others no.
These distinctions are important, because depending on what falls outside the scope of Game, a moral defense of its can become easier or impossible. I think that Deep Strength provided a good summary of some of the different definitions in his first post:
- The first crowd believes that “game” is a specific set of codified techniques that were “pioneered” by the PUAs in order to improve your relative attractiveness to a woman’s in order to use other techniques to get a woman into bed.
- The second crowd believes that “game” is a toolbox insomuch that a tool such as a hammer can be used to do constructive things such as building furniture whereas it can also be used as a weapon to bash someone over the head.
- The third crowd believes that “game” is fundamentally about “charisma” or “self improvement” because masculinity is about building a man who is not just respect by women but by other men, children, colleagues in the workplace, etc. It is the ability to wield influence.
- Finally, there is a fourth depiction of game that Leap has been commenting on which is the one I most agree with having studied the Scripture more in depth. This is the depiction of game that it is inherently worldly in nature, and that masculinity of the positive variety comes from being a masculine man of God as the Scripture define it.
Deep Strength takes the same position as Leap of a Beta, that Game is a worldly thing. My own take has varied since I found the manosphere. For the longest time I held to the “toolbox” view. I saw Game as a series of tools that could be used, like all tools, for Good or for Evil. But Leap’s comments about how Pride is at the heart of Game have caused me to reevaluate this approach.
[I should note that under the first categorization, there are plenty of types of Pick-up Game out there- “fast game” and “slow game”, “day game” and “night game”, “direct game” and “indirect game”, etc.]
In my second post in the series, “Godly Masculinity versus Game”, I considered several different models which tried to explain what Game was. I think that they represented real progress in defining Game, but were still incomplete. My biggest problem was how they treated the base of both systems, “Masculine Frame.” I gave both the same base, but this didn’t set well with me and I explained that I thought there were differences between the two. This is where Leap’s comment on Pride comes into play.
You see, part of the reason why I waited so long before writing this follow-up post is because I wanted to become more familiar with Game. I knew some things about it, but had never really dived into it before in depth. So I did some digging. OK, a lot of digging. And in the process realized that Leap was quite right about the role that Pride plays. Pretty much every Game practitioner that I found, from Heartiste on down, emphasizes the importance of confidence to Game. More than even the importance, the centrality of it. Heartiste has as one of his “16 Commandments” the development of an irrational self-confidence in oneself. And Pride is at the heart of this confidence in self. But past the Pride, past the self-confidence, past even “Frame” you find the real core, the base or foundation of what Game is all about: The elevation and advancement of self above all else. Or otherwise stated, the Idolatry of Self.
This new understanding leads to another definition of Game: A philosophy grounded in Idolatry of Self that frames itself around prideful self-confidence and revolves around creating a toolbox of methods to advance one’s self-interest in all walks of life.
So Game is not a Toolbox, but rather a toolbox is what Game seeks to go about creating. It is a step in the process of advancing oneself. This leads to a new model for Game:
Idolatry of Self forms the base or foundation of the pyramid, which is the core guiding principle. This foundation is not visible, you have to dig beneath the surface to find it, which is why many (including myself) fail(ed) to realize it. Above it we find self-confidence, which is the core of the “Frame” that a man carries himself about in. This is visible, and is the basic manifestation of a man’s character. Above that is the Toolkit, a combination of knowledge and skills developed to achieve whatever goal is sought. And at the top is Temptation, the end result of successful Game in a specific endeavor: to bed a woman.
With all of this in mind, the concept of Game being a “way of life” doesn’t seem nearly as far-fetched. When people talks about applying Game to other aspects of their life besides
III. The Placebo Effect
One Game related topic that is getting talked about a lot right now in certain quarters is the “conversion” or success rate of Pick-up Game. A good example of this debate can be found at ZippyCatholic’s blog, in his post How About Earning a Living Playing Slots? His whole post can be summed up as-
Game is a placebo, which is “better than doing nothing at all: there is quantifiable benefit, in general, in just putting in an effort.” The low success rate proves it doesn’t work as advertised.
I agree with Zippy that most Game does in fact provide a placebo effect. Although not quite in the same way that I think he does.
The key thing to keep in mind is that a placebo only works when you don’t know that it is a placebo. [Wrong. See here for a better description of the Placebo effect. Thanks to Deep Strength and Zippy for pointing this out to me.]
Most of what Game does for the majority of its practitioners is to bolster their confidence. The various tricks and gimmicks that they use (and they are just that) to “generate attraction” or “provide comfort” (or the other components of whatever Game system is being used) don’t actually work like that. Let me explain by example: When a PUA thinks up some great new “opener” to approach a woman with that he is certain will work, and it does in fact work, it isn’t the opener that is the reason for his success. Rather, it is his certainty, his confidence that the opener will work that makes it work. This is because the woman isn’t really listening to what he says, but how he says it and the rest of his overall body language.
The placebo effect occurs when the idea is implanted into a player’s mind that if he can use the right moves, then he is guaranteed success. This false impression can give him the self-confidence he needs to act more attractive, rather than generate it through silly gimmicks like clever openers and wearing silly hats.
IV. Lies, Damned Lies and…
This is of course the perfect time to address conversion rates. I’ve seen a lot of people make assumptions when they shouldn’t, and misinterpret the numbers given out by PUAs. So I will take the time to clear a few things up. I will be repeating myself and a few others here, but I think the repetition will be valuable.
When a Player talks about how he has a 2.7% conversion rate, what that means is this: Approximately 2.7% of the women he approached had sex with him. It does not mean that Game works on 2.7% of the female population. It doesn’t even mean that Game works on 2.7% of the women he approached. It means simply that 2.7% of the women that the individual player approached responded by having sex with him.
A different player might have a higher conversion rate. Or a lower one. And he might have success with entirely different women. While female preferences don’t vary as much as male preferences, they do have them.
But why such a low number?
Well, that is just one example. Other PUAs have higher (and lower) numbers. Of course, most of them never really get conversion rates which are terribly high (such as over 10%). There are two main reasons for this, one of which is a short answer that I will get out of the way.
The 2.7% number comes from a guy practicing “Day Game” that sounds pretty direct. Also, he was almost certainly using “Fast Game” as well. For those who don’t understand those terms, a brief explanation: Day Game means using Game on women outside of nightclubs or other hotspots, basically, everyday locations like malls, grocery stores or just walking on the street. This is difficult because women rarely want to be approached in this way while going about their business. Direct Game is where you make your intentions and interest obvious from the very start. Indirect Game, on the other hand, involves hiding or couching your initial interest and attempting to get inside a woman’s comfort zone before escalating. Direct Game is high-risk, high-reward; it is very easy for it to blow up in your face. And “Fast Game” is a technique that includes a very rapid-paced Direct Game that is built towards quickly assessing whether a woman might respond positively to the approach or not.
What this means is that the approaches the PUA was engaging in were difficult, and they were quick paced. So he didn’t actually spend a whole lot of time (or money) to get what he wanted. And apparently he was only approaching very attractive women who were much younger than he was. Under these circumstances, from the perspective of someone wrapped in sin, this isn’t bad at all. I should mention at this point that Cane Caldo has written several excellent responses to Zippy’s various arguments. I would start here, and then read this.
V. A House Built on Sand
24 “Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; 25 and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; 27 and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it.”
This brings us to the second reason why most PUA success or conversion rates are so low: they have built their houses on sand.
As I explained above, Game builds up an artificial confidence in would-be PUAs through a sort of placebo effect. As a result of this, their self-confidence is hollow and unsteady. This, combined with another weakness I will cover shortly, leaves their Frame weak. If something should go wrong with their approach, then their confidence will wane, and their frame will start to fall apart. If that happens often enough or if they make a serious mistake then the whole approach risk collapse. In which case they get rejected. Not to mention, many women will see right through the illusion that is their “masculine” frame and turn them down.
The hollowness comes about because many PUA types advocate a “fake it until you make it” philosophy when it comes to confidence and frame. But the truth is that few, if any, ever truly make it. After their initial foray into Game, most of their confidence is founded on their success with women. But if they should have a dry spell where they enjoy little to no success, then they will begin to question themselves. This of course only increases their angst and further weakens their chances.
It isn’t surprising that for many the pinnacle of Game, tempting women into their beds, becomes the center point of their lives. You can see this in statements like “Every man must learn Game” and in the way that many PUAs pull more and more women, just to be certain that they can. Their Frame, the concept of self they present to the world, demands it.
Another reason for this hollowness is found in the often effeminate nature of much of Games. In his latest post Cane Caldo dissects Game and its origins, focusing on how many Game advocates started to drum up the manliness of it over time:
Wounded by the charge of effeminism (as men should be) the PUAs started to respond with more sophisticated evo-psych nonsense about Game being a covert, esoteric, and ancient manliness. Covert so as not to upset PC sensibilities during the performance of Game; esoteric so as to explain why their knowledge about such tactics aren’t common (When they are by all accounts procreationally necessary, and even genetic! How did all those Alphas spawn all these Betas?) ; ancient so as to cast a glamour over those susceptible to the trappings of tradition.
It should be noted that not all Game practitioners are effeminate. But many are, including a lot of the leading lights. I theorize that the reason for this is found in the gimmicks and tricks that they use. Many of them are quite passive-aggressive in nature. Cane’s description of the Neg (as practiced by PUA’s) as “cattiness with plausible deniability” is spot on. Essentially, using these methods to tempt women is to play their own “game” against them. Passive-aggressive tactics are the go-to weapon for women. And Game as practiced by PUAs is full of passive-aggressive tactics meant to get inside a woman’s head. The way I see it, if a man uses feminine tactics long enough, it starts to effect him. As he practices female techniques, he starts to become more feminine.
Natural players don’t tend to be like this at all. They are also usually more successful than Game using players. Why? It is because the naturals had to build up their own Frame, isolated from the precepts of Game. And that frame is usually very masculine in nature, because that is what women are looking for in a man. Naturals often end up using many of the same tools, but they acquire theirs through trial and error. Game practitioners never develop this sense of masculinity because their Frame isn’t something they build on their own over time. Instead, it is something that is sort of built for them by whomever teaches them Game. With only the concept of irrational self-confidence to guide their Frame, users of Game are themselves susceptible to the manipulative forces they seek to unleash on women.
V. An Alternative
Given what have I said so far in this post, it is obvious that Game is incompatible with Christianity. Christians worship God, not ourselves; yet that is the central premise of Game. So what is a married Christian man, or a Christian man looking to marry, to do then? Free Northerner has just created a post asking for an alternative to Game for Christians. Why? Because there is none at the moment. And one is badly needed.
The current MMP is a disaster for Christians. Good men and women cannot find one another. And even when they do find one another, neither knows how to go about the process of courtship. Women don’t know how to signal and men cannot recognize the signals that do get made. For decades Christian men and women have been fed misinformation about the opposite sex. Married Christian men are in an especially delicate position, because they face a hostile culture and legal system that has empowered and encouraged their wives to detonate their marriages on a whim.
I have some ideas that I want to work out to create this alternative. Others are already trying to figure this out, including Leap of a Beta and Deep Strength. One of my commenters is working on a guest post with his own thoughts and I like some of what I have heard already. My ideas are by no means complete, but I will voice what I have at the moment.
To begin with, I think that the same kind of model that I applied to Game would work to understand this system (which I don’t even have a name for right now). That means a pyramid.
At the base of the pyramid, the Foundation, is masculine Godliness (as compared to Godly Masculinity). Essentially, a deep-abiding faith in the Almighty which also fully embraces the masculine nature that God intended for men to posses and express.
On top of this foundation we have the Frame, which is built around sophroneo, soundness of mind or sensibility (see here for more). This is what Titus 2:6 urges that young men be taught. Self-control is the name of the game here. Rather than suppress our masculine instincts, we learn to control and harness them. The goal is to manifest a certain kind of unflappability and sense of control in our lives. To be the rock that women naturally want to cling to.
Above the foundation we have the Toolkit. This is similar in many respects to its counter-part in Game, but is not exactly the same. Game teaches three main things: 1) Behaviors and Attitudes to drop because women find them unattractive; 2) Behaviors and Attitudes to adopt because women find them attractive; 3) Specific techniques to use in order to attract women and tempt them. This Christian alternative Toolkit will use most of #1, a good chunk of #2 and very little of #3.
Lastly, at the pinnacle or cap-stone of the pyramid, we have Adoration. This is the sentiment that we want to kindle in God-fearing women. Attraction by itself is nice and good, but the goal is to become the kind of man that Christian women look up to, the kind of man that they would willingly join their lives to.
That is the graphic representation of it. I think that most of the work on this project will be focused on the Frame aspect, what I currently refer to as Sophroneo (thanks to Lyn87 for cluing me in to that). Creating a foundation of Masculine Godliness is mostly a personal venture that will take time and effort, but not be all that difficult. A good understanding of how feminism has corrupted Christianity will go a long way. The Toolkit aspect is mostly combing through Game teaching and the Classics to find out what is valuable and what isn’t when it comes to attracting women, then sifting for what is compatible with Christianity and weaving it all together. Adoration should come naturally enough when everything else is put together.
If done right, this system should help Christian men who are already married, as well as those looking to marry. It should be especially helpful for the former, because Game as a means of keeping a wife attracted/interested in marriage is rife with problems. As Seriouslypleasedropit notes in his latest post, PUAs (and Game itself) is a short term endeavor. It isn’t built to sustain things in the long run. Running Game in a marriage will grow to be a tiring affair that is likely to make a husband question its worth. Not to mention possibly fall apart in the end because of the possible feminizing nature of Game in the long run.
As I warned earlier, not exactly a focused post. But hopefully one that has some merit somewhere, and can keep the discussion moving.