Kelly Clancy

Playing with Reality

Playing with Reality

How Games Shape Our World


We play games to learn about the world, to understand our minds and the minds of others, and to make predictions about the future. They're also a lot of fun. But what happens when we mistake games for reality?

Playing With Reality explores the riveting history of games since the Enlightenment, weaving an unexpected path through military theory, biology, artificial intelligence, neuroscience, cognitive psychology and the future of democracy. As neuroscientist and physicist Kelly Clancy shows us, games have been deeply intertwined with the arc of history. War games shaped the outcomes of real wars in nineteenth and twentieth-century Europe. Game theory warped our understanding of human behaviour and brought us to the brink of annihilation - yet still underlies basic assumptions in economics, politics and technology. We used games to teach computers how to learn for themselves, and now we are designing games that will determine the shape of society and future of democracy.

Lucid, thought-provoking, and masterfully told, Playing With Reality makes the bold argument that the human fascination with games is the key to understanding our nature.