NomicWiki is a collaborative maintenance of various documents related to the Game Of Nomic; also, hosting of Nomic games. It was originally hosted at Nomic.net using the PhpWiki wiki engine without a license, and this went offline. It is now hosted at NomicWiki.inclumedia.org and uses the MediaWiki software. On 19 June 2014, the site was taken down permanently.
Asking the question "What is Nomic?" is like asking the question "What is a hacker?" or "What is Zen?" - people tend to get all mystical and cryptic, and you end up with no real idea at all. :)
Nomic is a game, and it is a lot of FUN! Unlike most games, the rules of nomic are not written in stone. In fact, the object of the game is to make changes to the rules of the game. Players start off following some "initial rule-set", which dictates how the rules can be changed. Once a rule change has been made, players then follow this new rule set. Most importantly, the rules about how rule changes are made can themselves be changed!
This is where it tends to get mystical, because as a result of these rule changes, the game you are playing will change from moment to moment. The nature of the rule changing mechanism might change from democratic to capitalist, to totalitarian, to whatever. Or the ability to change the rules might be removed entirely - perhaps the game will turn into chess, or tag, or snap. The future of the game is entirely in the hands of the players.
In the words of Nomic's author:
- Nomic is a game in which changing the rules is a move. In that respect it differs from almost every other game. The primary activity of Nomic is proposing changes in the rules, debating the wisdom of changing them in that way, voting on the changes, deciding what can and cannot be done afterwards, and doing it. Even this core of the game, of course, can be changed. -- 'PeterSuber', "How to Play Nomic"
Most nomic enthusiasts seem to enjoy playing nomic in order to experience the possibilities of different kinds of lawmaking processes, and also to exercise their ingenuity in trying to discover loopholes in the rules which give unusual results - mostly to the benefit of the player. (This is called "scamming", and is lots of fun! :)
- In my commentary on the game I distinguish 'procedural' from 'substantive' games. In substantive games, players play to earn points and win. In procedural games, they try to tie the rules into knots, either for the logical fun of it or in order to win by paradox rather than by points. -- 'PeterSuber'
For the record, Nomic was conceived and designed by PeterSuber, and first published in DouglasHofstadter's column "MetamagicalThemas" in Scientific American in 1982, and later in Hofstadter's book, by the same name. Peter revised the rules and published them in his own book, "TheParadoxOfSelfAmendment" in 1990. See NomicBooks, for references.