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By Dhruv Bansal
Posted March 3, 2020
\1 “Bitcoin is a game we play where we can easily tell when someone is cheating.”
When I first saw this (in some ELI5 bitcoin Tweet) I thought it just some pithy phrase.
But over time this simple sentence has come to resonate with me as a profound summary of the bitcoin ethos.
\2 Bitcoin IS a game, but an infinite one, where the goal is to keep playing – not a finite game where the goal is to win.
“Finite games are theatrical, necessitating an audience; infinite ones are dramatic, involving participants”
\3 Like any game, bitcoin is an opt-in set of rules devised by its players.
Once the game has begun, changing rules is tough. Only rules which help players continue playing will survive. And no one is in charge of making changes.
So, like the game of culture, Bitcoin evolves.
\4 Preventing cheating is important in infinite games because cheaters are seeking to win, not to continue play.
Cheating in bitcoin isn’t prevented by referees (3rd parties) or parents (the state).
Mathematics, energy & the greed of other players ensures the game continues.
\5 Imagine other games if they were like bitcoin:
- A news industry in which those with the incentive to lie don’t because it’s more profitable to tell the truth.
- Societies which don’t pollute because it’s cheaper to be clean.
- Making people free making people money.
\6 Yes, bitcoin is deadly serious with big fortunes, egos, and ambitions in play.
But thinking of it as an infinite game can help engender the playfulness required for creativity, innovation, progress.
To a beautiful game…