The Game Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: The Game is like a seat right next to Neil Strauss on his rollercoaster ride through the pickup community, where he gets hooked, successful, lost, wins and fails, until he finds his true self again.

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I cringed at even clicking on this book, because I love Neil, but hate pickup. But since fear is usually a good indicator you have to do something, I clicked anyway.

The Game was published in 2005, after Neil had gone all the way from stumbling across the pickup community, to learning everything they teach and becoming a guru himself, until everything fell apart.

Here are 3 things I took away from this summary:

  1. Social dynamics can be manipulated.
  2. Pickup is actually about men, not women.
  3. Routines won’t help you find love.

Let’s take a good hard look at those.

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Lesson 1: Social dynamics can be manipulated.

Of course the blink said social situations can be manipulated to help you seduce women. However, that shouldn’t be your takeaway.

What’s worth remembering is that social dynamics can be manipulated altogether. That means not only can you turn the tables when you’re the shy guy amongst a flock of beautiful women, but also among men.

Whether people think you’re dorky, smart, a loser, musclehead, or an ass, you can take those assumptions and use them to your advantage.

It reminded me how Barney always talked his way out of things on How I Met Your Mother and of a Cambodian kid’s story my girlfriend told me. It goes like this:

A wolf and a fox spot a turtle on their way, and instantly pin it to the ground. The turtle then overhears their discussion. “Let’s eat it! But we have to break the shell first.”

The turtle wasn’t quick on her feet, but in her mind, and said: “Ha! You’ll never break my shell. And even if you did, don’t you know without my shell I’m fast as lightning? Good luck catching me then!”

The fox whispered to the wolf: “Let’s throw it into a fire then!”. Again the turtle responded: “Oh yes, please throw me into a fire. It’s my element and it makes me stronger than you could ever imagine!”

“Hmm, maybe we should throw it in the lake instead?” the wolf wondered. Cunningly, the turtle said: “Water? Oh no, that’s the worst, I’ll die in water, please don’t throw me in the lake!”

Instantly the fox and the wolf grabbed the turtle and tossed it into the lake. The turtle swam and circled around before sticking its head out of the water and calling out to the two predators: “Thanks guys! I was saved by 2 idiots!” And thus the turtle swam away.

The turtle manipulated the social dynamics of the situation and used its presumed role of the scared, honest victim to “win” the discussion and save her life.

Wherever you go, people will make assumptions about you, just like you do yourself. Good ones and bad ones. Either way, you should use them to your advantage.

Lesson 2: Pickup is really about men, not women.

After Project Hollywood, an experiment where Neil tried to live together with 3 other pickup gurus, failed, Neil started to come to grips why pickup wasn’t sustainable.

As a result of their teaching and workshops, all of these lonely, anti-social, horny men found themselves among more lonely, anti-social, horny men, instead of women.

Sure, the tricks worked, but even if these nerds now hooked up with 3 women a week, they’d still have 0 female friends.

Learning pickup didn’t expand their social capacity, it lessened it.

What’s more, using deceit and lies to get women to sleep with you really says more about you than about the women. Project Hollywood failed for the same reason.

Too many alpha males huddled up in one house lead to competing for girls and fans, breaking rules and even stealing girlfriends.

So make sure who you spend your time with complements you by being different, and isn’t just a mirrored version of yourself.

Lesson 3: Routines will never help you find love.

I didn’t want to just say pickup is bullshit (which I think it is), or a waste of time (which it definitely is), so I’m glad the blinks made this point.

All of the routines are of course practiced and thus fake. People always pick up on phonies eventually, so when you meet someone special and use a bunch of pickup voodoo on her (or him) you might scare them away.

Neil learned this when none of his lines worked on Lisa Leveridge, who wanted to know who he really was. After all his trouble to become more confident and an “alphamale”, he eventually had to revert to his former, true self, to see if he had a shot.

And he did.

The Game Review

I’m glad The Game was actually much more about Neil’s journey and how he changed, instead of just a playbook. Now I’m really interested in reading the full book, especially considering Neil is now married with a kid, and a follow-up is out (called The Truth).

Maybe I’m just hopelessly romantic, or an idealist, but I’ve always hated pickup. I’m not a prude, or old-fashioned, after all I found my true love on Tinder and shared how people can do the same, but it was only when I changed the routine and started doing something different that I was ready for love to find me.

If you haven’t found love yet, put all your energy into it. Life is long, if you know how to use it.

I’m 100% convinced we all want true love eventually. It’s hard enough to find 1 person out of 7 billion as it is, so there’s really no time to waste playing games. Even if it’s “The Game”.

Who would I recommend the Game summary to?

My 17 year old self, who’s desperately wishing for a girlfriend, but wasting his time in the friendzone, the 42 year old playboy, who seems to do fine on the outside but secretly feels lonely, and anyone who’s chasing one night stands over the real thing.

Last Updated on July 27, 2022

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Niklas Göke

Niklas Göke is an author and writer whose work has attracted tens of millions of readers to date. He is also the founder and CEO of Four Minute Books, a collection of over 1,000 free book summaries teaching readers 3 valuable lessons in just 4 minutes each. Born and raised in Germany, Nik also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration & Engineering from KIT Karlsruhe and a Master’s Degree in Management & Technology from the Technical University of Munich. He lives in Munich and enjoys a great slice of salami pizza almost as much as reading — or writing — the next book — or book summary, of course!