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In the SF/Fantasy cross Apprentice Adept series by Piers Anthony, the main character is a proficient player of the science realm's "Game". Two people face off at a game console. There, one player chooses one of four categories: 1. PHYSICAL, 2. MENTAL, 3. CHANCE, or 4. ARTS. The other player chooses among A. NAKED, B. TOOL, C. MACHINE, or D. ANIMAL. (Naked means unassisted by external tools.) Once the grid is completed, players continue on subgrids until they select a particular game to play. They then proceed to play that game.

Obviously a similar real world game would either require vast amounts of resources, or be modified to be more of a board-game style, thereby having to change the first 8 categories to be something doable in a living room. However, the strategy and ability to gauge your opponent's strengths and weaknesses, I feel, is the key point - as mentioned in the book, the ability to do well at the grid is often more important than a wide range of abilities in the possible resultant activities.

Are there any real-world games that mimic this?

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    I think that Anthony was exploring some aspects of game theory -- that you can adjust the outcome not just by how you play the game but also by how you choose the game. Obviously, different people are better at different games, and usually we just play the game that is the consensus. Although it might be out of the scope of the site, I wonder if game players can come up with a system to categorize games in such a way that players can choose what to play in a similar manner.
    – Martha F.
    Feb 10 '11 at 16:29
  • It's possible this question would get better results over on boardgames.se
    – Tynam
    Jan 8 '12 at 9:36
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    I’m voting to close this question because.... how is this different than asking for "real-world scientific" answers. This is just a question that is inspired by SFF, asking for facts about the real world. Mar 9 at 16:27
  • @ThePopMachine Concur. Ten years ago when I answered it this was a less clear mismatch; today it's obviously off-topic.
    – Tynam
    Mar 22 at 19:14
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There's almost-definitely no published game which closely mimics what you're looking for.

However, one resource exists for creating selection meta-games which goes a little way towards what you're looking for. BoardGameGeek has everything categorized by game type already, of course, and I've seen several selection meta-games which print your existing game collection as cards and then play preliminary games to decide what to play. (For two players, the last stage of Anthony's Game works well - fill a 4x4 grid with options, then choose row/column.)

There is software, nanDECK with BGG2nanDECK, for creating cards for this automatically.

(I did try to design the Game in full once, after reading the books as a teenager, but gave up... too many resources required.)

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  • Wouldn't this only require 16 games total? Doesn't seem all that difficult thinking about it that way.
    – livingtech
    Nov 7 '19 at 22:57
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    @livingtech You are correct, this only requires 16 games in the grid. Which is a reasonable number that are likely to be acceptable suggestions for 2-4 people with a moderately sized game collection arguing about what to play. If you have 4 people and they're good at visualisation, or one of them good at drawing grids, you can even make it a 2x2x2x2 hypercube: draw it as a 2x2 grid of 2x2 grids, and all players pick simultaneously. Players A and B pick a row-and-column of the main grid, C and D picks are row and column of whichever subgrid resulted.
    – Tynam
    Nov 9 '19 at 19:10
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When reading this question the first thing that came to mind was the card game Fluxxx. Basically the rules of the game (and the goal for winning the game) change as you play it.

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    While I love Fluxx, I don't think it meets any of the OP's criteria.
    – Martha
    Feb 9 '11 at 19:44
  • I understand that my answer isn't a close fit but she asked if there were "any real-world games that mimic this?" and to my way of thinking the game she describes changes based on the choice of the players and the game I describe changes based on the choice of the players. Not a close fit at all but it does mimic some of what she describes.
    – Dan Geiser
    Feb 10 '11 at 15:07
  • @Martha -- your comment was so close to what I would have put that I had to check if I'd put it in without remembering!
    – Martha F.
    Feb 10 '11 at 16:27
  • @Dan I would tend to agree with @Martha F - I've never played Fluxx, but from the descriptions I've found it doesn't sound similar. I was looking for a game that had a similar approach - two players face off and based on their assessment of their opponent's abilities, try to pick a skill challenge which they feel they can win, then they complete that challenge.
    – morganpdx
    Feb 10 '11 at 17:51
  • @Martha F.: <grin> I ended up changing my name on Cooking.SE to avoid collisions with you, because I saw a comment that I did not recall writing... and it turned out, I didn't write it, you did. (It's kind of nice meeting another Martha, it tends to be such a rare name in the US. I never once had a classmate with my name, for example.)
    – Martha
    Feb 10 '11 at 19:42

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