Infinite play is a ‘perspective’ through which one does not feel bound and gagged by rules and that is the chief difference between finite and infinite play.
Finite players believe rules must be strictly followed to bring the game to a conclusion and acquire an outcome or achieve the ‘reward. The rules of an infinite game are changed frequently to offset the very appearance of an outcome, or winner, so that the game can continually engage more players. For instance, here is one example of playing with rules in order to alter the nature of play and engage more players.
Finite players feel compelled to play, as if there were NO choice (essentially, they don’t see themselves as "playing"), while infinite players play freely by choice in every game they play. Finite games have strict time parameters so that a winner(s) can be determined at the conclusion of the game. Infinite players play within time, but are not bounded by time restraints, since games do not conclude. Infinite players define infinite games, even though it often seems they are playing a finite game by other finite players. Infinite games have no limitations. Finite games are defined by limits.
An infinite game has no expectation of an outcome and if an outcome appears, the rules are changed. In other words, if a spiritual "path" asserts an expected outcome or reward, the finite player would adhere specifically to that path in order to achieve the expected outcome or extract the reward, while the infinite player might seek to alter the path by 'playing' with the rules. To play with the rules is to always keep the game in play and bring as many players as possible into the game (the number of players never ends). In fact, the more players, the greater the likelihood outcomes will NOT appear and the game can continue.
"If a player must play, he cannot play” (James Carse). This is because, once a player feels a game is necessary, it can no longer can be considered 'play' and games not considered ‘play’ are taken very seriously. Serious play is always finite because it is concerned with outcomes. Finite players do NOT engage in games unless they can expect a specific result. Infinite players have no expectation of a result and so are free to ‘play’ as long as they choose. Infinite players 'play,' because the expectation is that the game continue.
Finite players rarely examine the basis for rules, because they expect to win by following rules. Infinite players seek to be free of expectations by continuously examining the basis for rules. If the scriptures or the "ancient wisdom masters" set rules for "awakening," then those rules become unquestionably sacrosanct to finite players.
Expectations assert outcomes and outcomes are always predicted based on the rules of the game. For instance, in many modern spiritual circles “enlightenment” or “awakening” are often predicted (or claimed) to provide "bliss and joy.” Therefore, “bliss and joy” is an expectation of “enlightenment” or “awakening” to a finite player. NOT to experience "bliss and joy" would be indicative of NOT being "spiritually awakened.”
All expectations demand the rules be followed and one chief rule of achieving “enlightenment” or “awakening” is the rule of sacrifice. If one sacrifices long and hard enough, one can expect “awakening” (or “bliss and joy”) as an outcome or reward for playing the game. This makes “enlightenment” and “awakening” a finite game, because there is a specific expectation. You may experience “bliss and joy” by seriously following the rules. But, if no more than that is expected as reward for your sacrifice, then no more than that will be experienced and you will achieve serious “bliss and joy” (however, one must wonder…after all those years of sacrifice, how “blissful and joyous" can it be. Ha! But, who am I to question the rules)
Finite games are closed systems, not open to change. Infinite games are open to change and change as frequently as possible.
One of the reasons outcomes are not expected by infinite players is because outcomes must be accurately predicted in order to adequately prepare for achieving said outcome. Many have predicted “enlightenment” or “awakening” as an outcome and this demands a set of rules be devised in order to achieve the outcome predicted by those who have also played by the rules and claim to have achieved the outcome.
Prediction always impedes “surprise” because it demands you prepare specifically for what is predicted and nothing else. Infinite Surprise is a prediction of infinite players. However that prediction requires NO preparation, being free of all ideology and associated expectation and thus, free of ALL rules. In fact, Infinite Surprise is known by its ability to spontaneously arise without any preparation or prompting from a player.
Actually, Infinite players fully engage together to experience Infinite Surprise from that engagement.
Unfortunately (for an ego-self reliant on predictions) this means that you never know what will 'happen’ and so, are rarely disappointed. But you will be infinitely surprised.
However, if you're prepared for a specific result, outcome or reward, you may be disappointed....
...and finite players are often disappointed.(disappointment is a primary indicator of finite games)
Artwork by Ron English