For Readers

You may observe the Estate Game purely by reading the moves. This is a greater puzzle, in many ways, as Playing (aka Writing) a move will give you insight into how many of the other moves are constructed. However, I acknowledge that at present there are far fewer writers than readers here, so this text gives you some guidance for solving the puzzles of the Estate Game without writing a new move.

Each "Move" has been written with a number of constraints. Each "Move" takes place at an address within The Estate. By reconstructing the geography of The Estate and deducing the rules used for each move, it is possible to determine what the final move is, and what rules will apply to it. The original goal of the Estate Game was to be the first person to write the final move. This never happened. Although some of the rules were deduced, nobody ever won the game, so it still remains unsolved.

To assist in the deduction of the rules of the moves, each move has an associated discussion table beneath it. This is a new discussion table, completely clear as of late April 2017. The original conversations of players are lost in the mists of history, though if we are fortunate some of these messages may be recovered in due course.

In addition, original players of The Estate Game produced a series of maps of The Estate. These are also currently lost but may be recovered as time goes by.

For Writers

Instructions and General Answers Frequently Asked Questions
  1. Players may enter or leave the game at any time.
  2. Players may not pay or expect payment for playing the game.
  3. The referee's decision on moves is final.
  4. Anyone may play a move, provided they request one.
  5. Players grant the right for the moderator to post their move on this website and in any related discussion forums. All other copyrights are reserved by the player.

Making a Move

  1. Players approach the referee and request the rules for their move.
  2. The referee supplies the player with the rules for their move.
  3. The player then has to decide to make the move or pass.
  4. If a player passes, they may request another move.
  5. Once the move is made, the referee may make editorial adjustment to the move. Any changes must be approved by the player before final posting.

Rules - Example

What sort of rules can a player expect to receive?

  1. The player will receive a character or characters. They character(s) may or may not be named/gendered etc. If any charcteristics are imparted on the character(s) then these characteristics must become part of the move.
  2. The player will receive an address for the character(s) and a general description of the environment in which they live.
  3. The player will receive information about the surrounds.
  4. The player will receive a set of private rules which they must follow in writing their piece. These rules may be structural constraints or simply things that must be included in the move.

How do you win the game? (revised 18 Sep. 2000)

In a game with so many players there is more than one way to win. Winning depends upon participation, conversation, and of course, the playing and solving of moves. For a full description of scoring in the game, see the Winning the Estate Game page.

What sort of rules will a player not ever receive?

  1. No style dictation. Players may write in any style at all.
  2. Complete creative freedom within the constraints set by the referee is guaranteed.
Got any? Please ask.

Q. Can my character interact with his/her neighbours?

A. Yes, you have freedom to the keys of the city so to speak. Your character can interact with any of the other characters, introduced or not. You can give anyone a name that doesn't have one yet. You can set your story in any time. You can create a new character entirely (and I'll put them into another location later on). Your character can fight with other characters or be best friends with them. They may even have relationships. Players decide. If you decide that the your character is in bed with the Witch, then the player who plays the Witch move must decide whether the Witch reciprocates or whether your character was lying. (or maybe, the Witch story will be in another time and tell the story of how the two met in the past or broke up in the future).

Q. What is collaborative writing?

A. In general, collaborative writing is the production of a work by two or more people in cooperation. This particular game is more like a directed writing experience. However, each writer's work will feed into a future writer's work.

Q. With so few guidelines, how could you expect it to make sense as a whole?

A. There is a secret pattern. Play the game to work out the patterns.

Q. What is the secret pattern?

A. It's a secret. Work it out!

Q. What is a Move?

A. A Move is a work in response to a scenario and a set of rules. A move may be written prose, poetry, script, audio, artistic, movie. It doesn't really matter. A move may even be in another language. When you request a move, you get 30 days to put one together.

Q. What is OuLiPo?

A. OuLiPo was (and still is) a loose society of mathematicians, writers and others, formed by Raymond Queneau in France in 1960. The name stands for Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle, or Workshop for Potential Literature. Members included Claude Berge, Ross Chambers, Italo Calvino and Georges Perec. OuLiPo was "a research team that aimed to fashion new tools for writing and to refurbish old and forgotten ones." "[T]hey undertook a vast programme of investigation into the formal devices used by writers over the centuries ('analytic OuLiPo') and into the literary potential of patterns that could be cannibalised from formal languages such as mathematics, logic, computer science, and - why not? - chess ('synthetic OuLiPo')." (from G.Bellos, p349 "Georges Perec - a Life In Words")

See (French)

GEF's Oulipian exercises

Q. What is a glass bead game?

A. Good question, I haven't really worked that out myself yet. The phrase comes from the title of Hermann Hesse's last novel, which was set in a post-consumerist information society. The glass bead game was a diversion played by these future beings which consists of finding connections between ideas. Some people swear by this system for everything from spiritual healing to financial planning.

See Glass Bead Game, The at Yahoo for a starting point. Be warned, the quality and focus of these and other 'glass bead game' sites varies considerably.