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Duncan Richer's Nomic Page

 What Exactly Is Nomic?

 Nomic is a game of strategy for as many people as are interested. The game is self-referential in that, at least at the beginning, playing the game involves changing the rules. The original version of Nomic was published in Douglas Hofstadter's tome "Metamagical Themas", although the design of the game is due to one Peter Suber. The original version required players to take turns at proposing amendments to the rules, and all players could vote on a rule to determine whether it would be added to the list.

 So what are you talking about Nomic for?

Well, Nomic is a game that adapts readily to being played over the Web. Many games of Nomic are played via e-mail lists, so that everyone knows what is going on. Imperial games, by contrast, are played via webpages. This enables the game to be played quite quickly by the standards of most play-via- computer games. As a result, a number of Nomic games and game sites have sprung up around the globe. I have already run four Imperial variant games, numbers 9, 15, 21, and 27. Now, however, my time is taken up with more conventional Nomic games such as Ackanomic and NomiCam.

Hang on. What is Imperial?

The Imperial version of Nomic merely takes some of the legislating power out of the hands of the players and gives it to a single entity called The Imperial Emperor. This simplifies the game play for running over the Web and eliminates unnecessary voting delays when a fast-paced game is desired. The rules as a result are slightly different to the ordinary Nomic, and hence it might be worthwhile explaining the differences.

 Note that Imperial Nomic has been developed at Imperial College, London, but is always undergoing refinement. Various games have experimented with large rulesets to provide some level of basic framework, but now the rulesets tend to be as small as four rules to start. For clarity I expand these out to 10 or so, but they could easily be combined into a starting four or five. The main differences are as follows:


The Imperial Emperor's (TIE) decision is final.

All rules are numbered from 1 up, not from 101 and 201 up for initial rules and 301 for amendments as in normal Nomic.

With TIE there to add stability, no rules are immutable at the game's start.

Proposals are numbered distinctly from rules. If and when a proposal is enacted as a rule it is given a different rule number to its proposal number.


I've played Nomic in a group before, any other changes?

 Yes, as a matter of fact there are. (Of course there are, I couldn't just ask this question to myself and say no, could I?). In face-to-face Nomic, players take turns (at least at the start). With the difficulties in knowing who is playing, and the time factor in ensuring the game doesn't drag on for ages, a strict ordering is impossible. Rather, any person can join the game at any time (at least the initial rules say that), and any person can submit a proposal at any time.

 The lack of a distinct time frame complicates voting as well. In some versions of Imperial some voting is available, while in ordinary WWW Nomic everyone is entitled to an equal vote (at least at the start). To deal with this a number of proposals may be undecided at any one time (although of course proposals can be introduced to affect this), and people have to send in (in the manner of a proposal) to vote. Once you get used to it it's not all that complicated.

Where do I sign up?

Well, you have a number of options. For more information you can go to the page of a relative Nomic expert (I only started playing Nov 3 1994). Click to go to Michael's Nomic page here in Cambridge. For lots more information you can have a look at the The NOMIC Frequently Asked Questions List at the University of New South Wales.

Here is a list (no guarantees to accuracy, I'm afraid) of games of Nomic that are still running, and accept new players:

Agora Nomic (started June 1993)
AckaNomic (started January 1996)
MacroNomic (started June 1996; re-organised April 1998)
New RishonNomic (started November 1997)
Radio Free Nomic (started February 1998)
Iowa State Nomic (started March 1998)
Wunderland Nomic Games (started April 1998)
NomiCam (started April 1998)

 For more information about currently running and completed games, look at Stephen "Swann" Swinarski's Links Page. It's available on The Nomic Ring.

Page by Duncan Richer,
Last Updated: Monday, August 17, 1998