The Game (book)

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The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pick-up Artists is a non-fictional book written by investigative reporter Neil Strauss as a chronicle of his journey and encounters in the seduction community. In the book, Neil Strauss adopts the pseudonym (and new identity/personality) "Style" and details encounters with women as he studies with "experts" at seducing women. What starts as an assignment to infiltrate and write an article [1] about secret online discussion groups by pickup artists, soon consumes his life.

This book was recommended to me by a friend I used to dance with. Although she'd never read the book, her girlfriends told her reading the book was a frightening insight into women, men and seduction. It was.

Would I recommend it? For girls, I definitely recommend it! This book is a pretty telling insight into female psyche, and maybe useful to identify guys who probably use "the game" just to use you (which is most of them). For guys however I recommend the book with a big disclaimer.

Disclaimer: What Makes this Book Scary

It seems strange for an intelligent person to be "afraid" of a book, but this is the first and only book about "seduction" I've read and I'll admit I felt nervous when I bought it and when I read it. Having seen other guys travelled down this "path", I believe there's a big danger of reading books like this. The danger of books about dating/picking-up/seduction is all in the subtext: unless the author is a woman, the subtext (whether subtle or blatant) is almost always "how to sleep with lots of women". Some of the guys I know who have read several of these books will actually change their personality from genuine men who simply want to meet a nice girl into guys who think about nothing but scoring and instead of respecting women as people they'll quantify/score them like objects. Fortunately this book is written by a guy who can see, warn you about and help explain this phenomenon. While there are many, many "techniques" in there about how to attract women, what makes this book unique is that it is written as a 452 page autobiographical narrative. The often unbelievable journey "Style" (Neil Strauss) takes, and how easy it becomes for him to pick up/sleep with almost any woman (yes even intelligent ones) is frightening and disheartening even, but what I love about the author is that he seems to maintain a genuine honesty and his writing is both intelligent and articulate. Believe-it-or-not, there was one spot in the book I actually shed a tear. This unexpected moment came towards the end of the book, where things get increasingly messed up, and he talks about his friendship with "Mystery". Mystery, by the way, is a pickup guru who most influenced and ran the first "workshop" Strauss attended but, like almost ALL the people in his community, was very insecure and "fucked up" - seeking validation by sleeping with women. Yes these are all real people - and following the success of the book, Mystery even had own TV show called "The Pick Up Artist", which brought this community and their various "techniques" even further into public awareness.

YouTube Videos:

Pickup Terminology

One thing very interesting about the "seduction community" (and anyone who subscribes to the online forums) is the number of acronyms and terms these pickup-artists (PUA) use. At one stage Neil describes how his PUAs use these terms in conversation, online "field stories"/battle reports and some PUAs will even use these words brazenly in front of their "targets" while out "sarging" (trying to pick up women); confident that their target will not understand a word of it. (eg: "I opened a mixed 3-set with a HB10, and finally my wing helped me deal with the obstacles. I tried to phase-shift, and was tried for a full close but ended with a number-close"). Below are a few of the MANY, many words listed in the book's glossary and will give you a relatively good idea of the books content.

  • AFC - (average frustrated chump) - a term they use for a "stereotypical nice guy" with no pickup skills or understanding what attracts women.
  • AMOG - (alpha male of the group)
  • Bitch Shield - women's defensive response to deter unknown men who approach her.
  • Buying temperature - the degree to which a woman is ready to make intimate physical contact with a man. A PUA attempts to "pump" her buying temperature with fast-paced routines.
  • Chick Crack - a physiological or spiritual subject that appeals to most women but not guys.
  • Cockblock - (one of their crudest terms and quite common) - person who interferes with a pickup artist's game.
  • Field - public place where pickup artist can meet women.
  • Field Report - written account of pickup, usually posted online.
  • Fluff - to make small talk: e.g. where one lives, work, hobbies.
  • FMAC - (find, meet, attract, close) - Mystery's sequential model of pickup
  • Freeze out - ignore a women to make her seek validation.
  • Full close - sex, they also say number-close or kiss close.
  • Group Theory - the idea women are usually accompanied by friends, who a man must win over while demonstrating a lack of interest in the woman.
  • HB - (hot babe) - often accompanied by a number ranked out of 10.
  • Hook point - the moment a woman (or group) decide she enjoys the company of a man she's just met and doesn't want him to leave.
  • IOI - (indicator of interest) - an indirect sign a woman is interested in a man (eg: ask his name or number, leaning in, touch arm, squeeze his hand, try making him stay) - theory is if you get three of these you can "phase shift".
  • Kino - to touch or be touched.
  • LJBF - (let's just be friend) - statement a women makes to a man - something these people try avoiding.
  • LMR - (last minute resistance) - often after a kiss, when woman tries to prevent intimate contact progressing.
  • Manage expectations - tell woman before sex roughly how commented to a relationship you are, so she does not expect too much or too little.
  • Model - observe and mimic behavior of someone else who's traits you desire.
  • MPB - (male pattern blindness) - some guy's inability to recognise a women is interested in him. (sounds like me!)
  • NEG - backhanded compliment / ambiguous statement delivered to girl with intent to show lack of interest. (eg: So is that really what's in fashion these days?)
  • NLP - (neuro-linguistic programming) - school of hypnosis where, instead of being put asleep, subtle conversational cues and gestures are used to influence a person at a subconscious level.
  • Nonversation - conversation where one person isn't paying attention (often because un-interest or distracted).
  • Obstacle - they use this to describe any/every person in a group the picup artist does not desire, but must win over in order to "run the game" on the girl in the group he does desire.
  • One-itis - a man's obsession with a girl he's not dating, PUAs believe this fixation lowers the man's chances with her and propose the solution is "to sleep with a ten other girls".
  • Opener - statement, questions or story used t initiate conversation with a lone stranger or group of strangers. They can be environmental (spontaneous) or canned (pre-scripted). direct (showing interest in a woman) or indirect (not showing interest). Typically PUAs use indirect canned routines (eg: "my friend's girlfriend wants him to get rid of photos of his ex, what do you think?"), not caring if the material is true. PUAs justify this as: "it's not lying it's flirting". Others believe it doesn't matter what you say, it could start "hi I'm marvin the martian", jst that you've initiated interaction.
  • PAIMAI - subtle expression of interest a women may make in meeting a man before he actually approaches her.
  • Pattern - a speech, usually scripted, based on NLP designed to arouse or attract women.
  • Pawn - a person one approaches in order to meet a nearby woman or group.
  • Peacock - to dress in loud clothing and/or flashy accessories in order to attract women's eyes - based on "peacock theory". Items include bright shirts, anything which glows jewellery cats etc.
  • Phase-shift - to transition during one-on-one conversation to slower, sexually-charged talk, touch or body language, intended to precede an attempted kiss.
  • Pivot - a women friend used to help meet other women, by providing "social proof", inducing jealously or helping "open sets". Also called a "wingwoman".
  • Push-pull - technique where a guy indicates he's interest in a women, followed by an indication he's not interested (i.e. mixed messages). An example: takin a girls hands then dropping them like you don't trust her.
  • Routine - scripted story or conversation intended to advance interaction with a women or group. Examples are "best friends test, evolution phase-shift and ESP demonstration.
  • Sarge - to go out and try to pickup women.
  • Set - a group of people in any social setting, where three-set is a group of three people etc. Sets may contain women, men or both (a "mixed set").
  • Shit test - a question or hostile comment by a women to gauge wether a man is worthy of being a boyfriend or sexual partner.
  • Synesthesia - types of waking hypnosis where women is put into heighted state of awareness and told to image pleasurable images and sensations growing in intensity.
  • Takeaway - when a man who's approached a women and is making progress leaves, wether a few seconds or hours, in order to demonstrate a lack of neediness and increase her attraction to him.
  • Target - the woman (typically in a group) who the PUA desires and is "running the game" on.
  • Three second rule - a guideline that a woman should be approached within three seconds or first seeing her - otherwise the man will over think and get nervous, or appear creepy by staring at her.
  • Time constraint - tell a women or group it's necessary to leave them soon in order to lessen her anxiety/fear he will suddenly hang around her all night.
  • Time distortion - making a women feel she has known a PUA longer than she really has. Examples include taking a women to many places in one night or having her imagine future events together.
  • Trance words - words a woman emphasizes or repeats when speaking indicating they have special meaning to her, and the PUA can identify and use these words.
  • Triangular gazing - glances at a woman's lips to suggest a kiss.
  • Wing - a friend (often another PUA), who assists one in pickup up women. A wing can help by keeping a woman's friend occupied or talking to woman directly about the PUAs positive traits.
  • Yes-ladder - a persuasion technique where the person asks a series of basic questions designed to elicit positive answers (eg: "are you spontaneous? Are you adventurous? Would you like to play a little game called 'the cube'.").

Now keep in mind this is less than 1/3 of the glossary! As you can see, a lot of crazy acronyms, and Strauss says it is hardly surprising considering most PUAs were once frustrated nerds.

Steps of the game

These are the eleven steps in picking up a woman as described by Strauss.

  • Step 1 Select a Target
  • Step 2 Approach and Open
  • Step 3 Demonstrate Value
  • Step 4 Disarm the Obstacles
  • Step 5 Isolate the Target
  • Step 6 Create an Emotional Connection
  • Step 7 Extract to a Seduction Location
  • Step 8 Pump Buying Temperature
  • Step 9 Make a Physical Connection
  • Step 10 Blast Last-Minute Resistance
  • Step 11 Manage Expectations

Interesting he breaks the book into chapters of the same name, however the chapters don't correspond in any way to the steps. The book isn't a manual, it's a narrative with many lessons along the way.


All guys have interest in beautiful women, but this book is pretty scary in the way it can transform guys into treating women like algorithms and using scripts. Although I didn't realized it at the time it was happening, this book actually messed up two of my good friends. My girlfriend at the time point out to me that they had a fundamental change in them and had started treating women quite poorly - only a year later did I realize they had read the book. Fortunately they have both come good since then.

I'd recommend reading with caution. I've always wanted to actually finish writing this article, but I'd have to read the book again, and it's time I don't have. I'm sure you'll find some summaries on the internet though.