The Game by Neil Strauss
One Line Summary
Pickup Artists were creepy as fuck
Why it’s Awesome
Pickup Artistry was an underground movement that began in the late 80’s and exploded into the mainstream when Neil Strauss published this book in 2005. If you’re not interested in learning how to become a pickup artist, don’t worry. That’s not the point of this book. This book is about the Hero’s journey.
I’m sure many people would disagree with me calling Neil Strauss a “hero”. But in terms of Jason Campbell’s classic story telling model, this book has all the right elements. We start off with a protagonist (Neil) who must go on an adventure to fix his tragic flaw of being undesirable to women. He meets companions (Mystery) who teach him new skills. Slowly, Neil masters these skills and begins conquering the Hollywood Hills dating scene. In the end, he must face his main antagonist (Tyler Durden) and resolve his initial flaw. The Hero’s journey then comes to a close.
It’s an entertaining and well-written story that anyone could enjoy reading. But that’s just scratching the surface of the impact this book.
This book was personally responsible for inspiring a huge number of guys to get their dating lives handled. The way modern rappers quote Rakim as an influence is the same way modern dating coaches quote The Game. So if you’re a PUA interested in understanding your roots, this book is for you. Or if you’re a guy who is frustrated with your inability to have success with women, The Game could be the kick in the ass you need.
Why Does It Suck
Most people find The Game and even the whole idea of the PUA community morally offensive. I’m not going to argue against this book from that point of view. I’m not your priest. Let’s just look at the practical nature of what Neil wrote.
Mystery and the original PUAs were absolute trailblazers. They discovered social tactics through massive personal testing that no one else could have figured out. It was a social science experiment on the hugest scale and no one knew it was happening except those who were involved.
That being said, if you’re a guy who is looking to use the ideas from this book as a practical guide to dating, you’re fucking up.
The early PUAs were social rejects reacting out of pain feeling like they didn’t belong. The unspoken message of the community was “Women and cool guys are above us. What tactics can we use to get on their level?”. But this mindset is totally fucked from the beginning. No one is inherently above or below anyone. It’s only in your head.
When you believe you and a woman are on the same level, attraction is obvious and natural. What pickup tactics did was allow guys with low self-esteem to believe that they had “something” that made them equals. In reality, it was mostly placebo. The same thing goes for guys who feel the need to constantly obsess over their appearance or anything else external.
Of course, the idea that attraction just naturally happens between a man and woman who have chemistry is not nearly as exciting and wouldn’t sell nearly as well as the idea that there are these “secret tricks” you can use.
Note that I’m not dismissing that dudes got results using these tactics. And I’m not saying that anyone who uses “lines” or “routines” has low self-esteem and there’s no use in having them. The point is, why are you using them? Are they an overcompensation for something deeper? Or are they just something fun you could use if you felt like it?
It’s the difference between “playing hard to get” and actually setting your life up in a way so that you ARE hard to get.
You could use the tactics in this book if you wanted. And you’d probably have some success. But you’ll always feel like you’re having to put on a performance. Always feel like the real “you” isn’t good enough.
Is that what you really want?
The Wrap Up
If you’re someone interested in pickup or just want an entertaining read, go ahead and read The Game. But don’t take it too seriously. There are better ways of going about dating.
How do I know? Because I’ve been there. Success with girls was a major pain point for me growing up and it’s easy to read this book and believe that all you were missing were some tricks. But there are no short cuts to real success.
If you want to be an attractive man, build the life of an attractive man. I’ll get more into how in later reviews.