Future Games

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

Nyrath has compiled a list of futuristic games from science fiction, and Eleusis caught my interest:

Eleusis is a card game that simulates the scientific method and teaches inductive logic. One player (“God” or “Nature”) secretly formulates a rule (a “law of nature”) that specifies what card can be played next. The rest of the players (“Scientists”) take turns playing a card (“performing an experiment”), and trying to deduce the rule (“create a hypothesis”) before the other scientists.

The game can be played with a standard deck of cards, or a special deck can be created.

Eleusis was invented in 1956 by Robert Abbott and appeared in Martin Gardner’s Mathematical Recreations column in the June 1959 issue of Scientific American.

In 2006, John Golden created a streamlined version.


  1. Gwern says:

    See also Zendo.

    It’s possible to play a version of Eleusis/Zendo just with triplets of numbers where the rule is something like ‘each number is bigger than the previous’. You can do this on IRC if you have a bot with some programming ability built in: privately define a function ‘f’ which is the rule and then in the channel, everyone takes turns evaluating guesses like ‘f 2 2 5′ and occasionally guessing the rule at the person running the game.

  2. Tom says:

    O. M. G.

    My father had an extensive collection of Sci Am’s, and I discovered Eluesis when I was a young teen. My brother and I would play it in the back of the station wagon on the way to and from Florida, in the days before video games or personal music players. I had completely forgotten about it until now.

    I’m going to teach my son to play it.

    Thank you!

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