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NomicWiki original logo NomicWiki
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Founded by: Malcolm Ryan
Status: Dead
Language: English
Edit mode: OpenEdit
Wiki engine: PhpWiki
Wiki license: No license
Main topic: Games

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NomicWiki subsequent logo used on the MediaWiki-powered site
Wiki size: 695 article pages see stats
wikiFactor: 9 info / verify

(As of: 2009-09-17 –

NomicWiki was a collaborative maintenance of various documents related to the game of Nomic; also, hosting of Nomic games. It was originally hosted at using the PhpWiki wiki engine without a license, but this went offline late 2009. Its final hosting was by Inclumedia, located at, and used the MediaWiki software. On 19 June 2014, NomicWiki 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. — 'Peter Suber', "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. — 'Peter Suber'
For the record, Nomic was conceived and designed by Peter Suber, and first published in Douglas Hofstadter's column 'Metamagical Themas' 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, The Paradox Of Self Amendment in 1990. See NomicBooks, for references.