What, you ask, is a Pointless Game?

A Pointless Game is the kind of game you play without score, or necessarily even winning. When you play a Pointless game, the kind of playing you do feels more like the playing you did before games, before you ever took a game seriously, when play was your way of life.

You play Pointless Games like kids play games. There are rules, but there aren’t any rules that you can’t change. There are rules about everything and no rule is as important as getting to play. Like getting to quit, if you want. Or getting to call “time out” when you need to, or getting even to change sides to make the game even.

It is said that any game that reaches true pointleness becomes like a Oaqui game - the product of a community of players who want, more than anything, to get to play. Anybody who wants to win can win. And still nobody loses. A Oaqui game is less about winning than about everybody getting to play. The rules are really never as important as the players themselves.

Every game is capable, at its heart, of becoming Oaqui-like. The all-too-familiar paper-and-pencil game of Tic Tac Toe, for example, which has been played for thousands of years, is about a lot more than getting three-in-a-row. It’s about using different symbols and taking turns and having only one winner per game. There is no rule about being a second winner. There is no rule that says that we have to use different symbols.

Just as every job in every company is equally Oaquish, at its heart.  Just as there is an unmistakable Oaquiness about what goes on in every conference room, about who gets to go first or call “time out” or even choose sides.

But only Pointless Games are completely Oaqui, totally, thoroughly, intentionally Pointless. In heart, mind, body, soul and society.

We could actually find a truly playworthy game of tic tac toe by Oaquing it up a bit, should we choose to be Oaqui enough. We could, for example, make it the rule that it was in deed and in fact legal to change symbols. Go ahead, Be X if you want too. And if I want to, I'll be X too. And still the first one of us to get three-in-a-row wins. If one of us wants to win.

We could have a truly productive meeting if we were willing to Oaque it up a bit. We could take turns being boss. Or we could all be boss at the same time. Or we could change sides. Or we could even both be right, regardless.

But that would be Oaqui.


from Doc Searls:

I get many chances to see this kind of playing, with Jeffrey. Two
interesting things: you're always trying to do what you can't yet do, even
(or especially) if you don't know what it is you're trying to do. This is
more than "learning," which is too curricular. It's about the thrill and
satisfaction of enlargement by willful discovery. Not just of knowing more,
but sensing it at the same time; and, most of all, finding fun in the
process, or having fun find you. Nothing beats surprise. Kids love it.

In play, the rule might be this: everybody gets to change.