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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Who was Tyler Durden the pickup artist? How did Tyler Durden and Neil Strauss know each other?
Tyler Durden the pickup artist was young and new to the community. Through careful strategy, Tyler Durden the pickup artist began to take Mystery’s followers and build his own empire.
Tyler Durden: Pickup Artist Takes the Community by Storm
Among the young, aspiring PUAs was a 22-year-old college student with the alias Tyler Durden. Tyler had read thousands of pages of archived posts on the seduction message boards, and he relentlessly emailed Style for tips.
Tyler was also active posting on the message boards, proposing that new members of the community get over their shyness with women by physically running into women or playfully hitting them with something soft. Tyler’s brazenness and constant presence on the seduction message boards helped him become well-known within the community.
When Style was unavailable to wing Mystery’s upcoming workshops, Mystery asked Tyler and another young PUA, named Papa, to step in as his wings. They eagerly accepted Mystery’s invitation.
Tyler Durden and Papa Go Rogue
Mystery brought Tyler and Papa to Europe for several workshops Mystery had scheduled there. The demand for the workshops was growing so much that, when Mystery had to fly home, he left Tyler and Papa in Europe to lead a few more workshops in his absence.
Papa and Tyler were supposed to simply continue teaching the Mystery Method, but, one night, they went off-script and invented a new technique, called AMOGing (AMOG is an acronym for alpha male of the group).
Tyler posted about AMOGing on the message boards, and the tactic took off. Soon, Tyler and Papa launched a company and offered their own in-field workshops. They called their company Real Social Dynamics—which was just one word off from the name of Mystery’s seminars, Social Dynamics.
Mystery felt betrayed: Not only had Tyler and Papa used his workshops as a platform to develop and promote AMOGing, but they’d also created a competing business with a nearly identical name.
Tyler Durden Joins Project Hollywood
Without approval from the rest of the housemates, Papa invited Tyler Durden the pickup artist to move into Project Hollywood.
Style had a gut instinct that Tyler couldn’t be trusted—and he soon found out he was right:
- Tyler told Style that he sometimes pretended to be Style (more accurately, Neil Strauss, a Rolling Stones writer) in order to impress women.
- Tyler had created a new technique, in which he undercut fellow PUAs. For example, while talking to a group of women, Tyler would point out Mystery from across the club and say that Mystery loved attention and often made rude comments. This made it impossible for Mystery to approach that group with his own routines and negs (backhanded compliments).
- Tyler had invented a technique called Stylemogging, in which he imitated Style’s phrases, mannerisms, and habits. Since Style was a top PUA, Tyler studied him incessantly in order to understand what made Style so successful. Tyler then broke down everything Style did into a formula and taught it to workshop students.
Style saw Stylemogging as a symptom of a larger problem within the community: Men were becoming robotic pickup clones who were obsessed with the game. They developed no real interests or hobbies outside the community, and, as a result, they had no real substance beneath the rote pickup lines and routines.
The irony was that the purpose of the techniques were to make men appear interesting, but their obsession with the game prevented them from being interesting, which was the most effective way of attracting women.
Project Hollywood Starts to Fracture
Tension was building at Project Hollywood.
Tyler Durden and Papa were still running their business, Real Social Dynamics, and now they were using Papa’s room as the business headquarters. Papa had an unknown number of people sleeping on the floor in his room, bathroom, and closet—and they were all part of the Real Social Dynamics team.
At the same time, Mystery was still operating his own seduction business. As a result, the house became split between the two competing businesses.
Additionally, Mystery quickly became serious with a woman named Katya, and she moved into the house. However, when their relationship fell apart, Katya got involved with another housemate. The love triangle caused constant drama in the house.
Style reflected on the optimism he’d had when they started Project Hollywood, that it would be a place where the men in the community could come together for self-improvement and life enrichment beyond sex and romance. That dream was now shattered by the harsh reality that the house dynamics were breeding instability and dysfunction.
A Community of Pickup Clones
Most of the men who found the seduction community had struggled with women their entire lives, and those failures had damaged their confidence and self-esteem.
In many cases, the game gave the men tools to be successful with women, which created a virtuous cycle: The success boosted their confidence and inspired self-improvements that affected all areas of their lives, which increased their inner game and made them more attractive to women.
However, in other cases, instead of learning from the pickup gurus and using their techniques to develop their own skills, many men in the community were simply mimicking the gurus and becoming pickup clones. Nearly every weekend, men arrived at Project Hollywood to take workshops from Mystery and Tyler Durden as pickup artists. They were all learning the same scripts, practicing the same routines, and buying the same gaudy clothes and accessories (per peacock theory). As a result:
- Instead of being empowered to use their new skills and knowledge as a foundation to build upon, these men often panicked when they ran out of scripted lines.
- Instead of developing confidence and self-worth independent of women’s acceptance (or rejection), these men placed all their value on the success of their pickups.
When Project Hollywood put on the first annual Pickup Artist Summit, community members from around the world attended. One night during the summit, Style learned that the Tyler Durden pickup artist technique he had been teaching was a technique he developed, called Stylemogging. Tension continued to grow between Neil Strauss and Tyler Durden.
Since Style was the top PUA in the community, Tyler had studied all of Style’s phrases, mannerisms, and habits, and he’d broken them down into, essentially, a how-to guide for becoming a Style pickup clone.
Style had already shared most of his lines and routines on the seduction message boards, but Tyler was observing and teaching everything else Style did, including many things that weren’t conscious or strategic. Tyler had turned Style’s entire personality into a formula that could be copied.
Many of the men at the summit had shaved their heads, like Style’s. They had read Style’s posts on the message boards, they used his lines—they wanted to be him. One man even made his pickup alias Stylechild. Now the clubs that Style frequented on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip were full of these robotic pickup clones. Style was stunned and alarmed.
Style Leaves Project Hollywood to Tyler Durden and Papa
The very concept of Project Hollywood—as a place for men who dedicated their lives to chasing women to coexist peacefully—had been flawed all along. It was overly optimistic to assume that they wouldn’t fight over women, their competing businesses (Mystery’s Mystery Method and Papa and Tyler Durden’s Real Social Dynamics), or their egos.
Seduction techniques taught men to be alpha males to attract women. Most of these men had spent their lives being pushed around by other alpha males, so when they started to embody alpha traits themselves, it could be intoxicating. Many members of the community became so focused on flexing their alpha strength that they sabotaged their friendships in the process. This was another area of the technique where Neil Strauss and Tyler Durden disagreed.
The cracks had started to show almost immediately, and, by now, the residents of Project Hollywood were split by fault lines.
Tyler Durden the pickup artist was one of the leaders of Project Hollywood, and developed a new PUA technique. As one of the newest gurus in the PUA community, Tyler Durden the pickup artist quickly gained followers.
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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