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Nomic is a game created in 1982 by philosopher Peter Suber in which the rules of the game include mechanisms for the players to change those rules, usually beginning through a system of democratic voting.[1]

Nomic actually refers to a large number of games based on the initial ruleset laid out by Peter Suber in his book The Paradox of Self-Amendment. (The ruleset was actually first published in Douglas Hofstadter's column Metamagical Themas in Scientific American in June 1982[2]. The column discussed Suber's then-upcoming book, which was published some years later.) The game is in some ways modeled on modern government systems, and demonstrates that in any such system where rule-changes are possible, a situation may arise in which the resulting laws are contradictory or insufficient to determine what is in fact legal. Because the game models (and exposes conceptual questions about) a legal system and the problems of legal interpretation, it is named after νόμος (nomos), Greek for "law".

While the victory condition in Suber's initial ruleset is the accumulation of 100 points by the roll of a die, he once said that "this rule is deliberately boring so that players will quickly amend it to please themselves."[3] Players can change the rules to such a degree that points can become irrelevant in favor of a true currency, or make victory an unimportant concern. Any rule in the game, including the rules specifying the criteria for winning and even the rule that rules must be obeyed, can be changed. Any loophole in the ruleset, however, may allow the first player to discover it the chance to pull a "scam" and modify the rules to win the game. Complicating this process is the fact that Suber's initial ruleset allows for the appointment of judges to preside over issues of rule interpretation.



The game can be played face-to-face with as many written notes as are required, or through any of a number of Internet media (usually an archived mailing list or internet forum).

Initially, gameplay occurs in clockwise order, with each player taking a turn. In that turn, they propose a change in rules that all the other players vote on, and then roll a die to determine the number of points they add to their score. If this rule change is passed, it comes into effect at the end of their round. Any rule can be changed with varying degrees of difficulty, including the core rules of the game itself. As such, the gameplay may quickly change.

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