The Game: Lifestyle and Secret Culture of Pickup Artists

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "The Game" by Neil Strauss. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.

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What is The Game lifestyle? How did Neil Strauss learn about and get involved with this lifestyle?

In The Game, lifestyle is an important element of being a true PUA. The Game lifestyle isn’t just about picking up women, but it is about being a certain type of person who lives a glamorous life.

Getting Too Deep in the Game

By this point, Style was far beyond merely observing the community for his writing assignment—he was a full-fledged member and a well-respected pickup artist (PUA). 

He was enjoying his new powers—especially after so many years of feeling completely inadequate around women. But the better Style got at the game, the more automatic his interactions with women became. Learning to seduce women didn’t teach Style how to connect with them. 

One day, Style got an unexpected visit from his college friend, Dustin, who had always been comfortable, confident, and successful at picking up women—but now, Dustin informed Style that he was living in a yeshiva and abiding by a vow of celibacy. Dustin had recently realized that he’d been basing his self-worth on his success with women, so he turned to a life of God. Dustin had come to ask Style’s forgiveness for glamorizing a corrupt womanizing The Game lifestyle. 

However, Style didn’t see Dustin’s lifestyle or the seduction game in general as corrupt. Style argued that the game hadn’t just helped him pickup women, but it also had made him a better person: He’d begun exercising, improved his diet, become more confident, and learned how to interact with people more effectively.  

Dustin didn’t disagree, but he wasn’t convinced. He simply said he’d always be there if Style needed him. 

Not long after, Style got a postcard from Dustin, dubbing him with the Hebrew name Tuvia. The postcard explained that the name meant that Style was driven to seek out good things in life, but sometimes got caught in bad things in the process

Style Shifts From Learning Game to Creating a Lifestyle

With his article on the seduction community and his new assignment to interview Tom Cruise, Neil was reclaiming some of his old life—but he was keeping one foot firmly planted in the community. 

Style Shifts His Focus to Inner Game

Neil couldn’t have gotten a better assignment: Tom Cruise was a model for the seduction community. He was effortlessly confident—a quintessential AMOG. In fact, most of the men in the community studied Cruise’s characters to improve their body language. 

In the film Magnolia, Cruise even played Frank T.J. Mackey, a seduction guru that Ross Jeffries claims to have inspired. However, Cruise told Neil that his character was not inspired by anyone in particular; rather, Cruise and the director, Paul Thomas Anderson, had developed Mackey’s character. (Shortform note: In the movie, Mackey instructs his seduction students to “respect the cock” and “tame the cunt,” while a banner that says “Seduce and Destroy” hangs behind him.)

Cruise lamented that a guru like the fictional Mackey could seduce men into thinking that seduction tactics are the best way to approach women and initiate relationships. To Neil, it felt reminiscent of how Dustin had warned him about the corruption of the seduction The Game lifestyle.

Neil stayed silent, but, internally, he pushed back against the attack on his community. Neil didn’t see anything wrong with learning the game; how was learning the game of seduction any different from studying and practicing other skills, such as writing or driving a car?

On the other hand, Neil was getting tired of regurgitating the same lines for every pickup. He wanted to be authentic and he wanted that to be enough to attract women. 

As Neil talked to Cruise, he found Cruise to be centered, grounded, and comfortable with who he was. Cruise also encouraged Neil to embrace himself. Cruise was inadvertently helping Neil gain the inner game—confidence and self-worth—that he’d been missing. 

The Game Is About Lifestyle

For Style’s birthday, his friends in the community threw him a party at a Hollywood club. Between friends, PUAs, and former lovers, about 300 people showed up. 

Style dominated the club all night. People were constantly pulling him aside to talk to him, and women were handing him their phone numbers—and he hadn’t recited a single line of game. 

Style realized that he’d been too myopic: He and the other sargers had been focusing on mastering the game simply to pick up women at clubs. But, the real purpose of the game was in creating a lifestyle that was interesting, exciting, and fulfilling. Men with that lifestyle exuded confidence and vibrancy that naturally attracted women. 

Style was ready to graduate from sarging and build this The Game lifestyle. He decided it was time for him and Mystery to create Project Hollywood, the seduction headquarters Mystery had described when he came out of the hospital. 

(Shortform note: In the years after this book’s publication, Neil was treated for sex addiction, among other mental and emotional conditions. While in rehab for this addiction, a doctor told him that his years in the seduction game had deeply ingrained his dysfunctional behaviors.

After receiving treatment, Neil got married in 2013 (not to Lisa) and had a son. In 2015, he published another book about his recovery from the seduction community, titled The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships. He no longer leads seminars on seduction techniques, but rather on how to be happier and more confident.)

The Game lifestyle is about partying and glamour. By integrating himself into The Game lifestyle, Neil Strauss believed he was making himself into a more interesting person.

The Game: Lifestyle and Secret Culture of Pickup Artists

———End of Preview———

Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best summary of Neil Strauss's "The Game" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full The Game summary:

  • The secrets of the Pickup Artist community in seducing women
  • How key Pickup Artist leaders fought with each other and split the group apart
  • What author Neil Strauss took away about women from his years of training

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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