[Editorial content by Carl Muckenhoupt]

Nomic is a game about its own rules. It was originally devised by Peter Suber in 1982 to illustrate the peculiar property of legal systems (in particular, the United States Constitution) that the mechainsms governing how they can be modified are themselves subject to the modifications that they govern.

One of the more common complaints about Nomic is that it isn't elegant enough. The initial ruleset contains things that make it a more accurate imitation of a legal system, but are simply unnecessary complications for those of us who just like the idea of a self-organizing game. Furthermore, although the rules can potentially be modified into whatever the players want to play, it takes a great deal of work to make substantial modifications to the initial rules.

For this reason, people have come up with alternate initial rulesets. Minic is an attempt at a more manageable set of rules that allows for gameplay approximately like Classical Nomic. There's apparently another variant called N, which is more minimal still. Jacob Davenport's Pure Nomic (perhaps better called "Degenerate Nomic") takes the course of simplification to its extreme, by eliminating all the rules except one: that the players may change the rules by unanimous decision. It's even been called into question whether this one rule is necessary; in a sense, it's simply a natural law of how games work.

For my part, I think that that's taking it a bit far. Mr. Davenport's recorded games have some unacknowledged assumptions behind them that may as well be made into rules. Far from imposing unnecessary restrictions on gameplay, doing so reveals the restrictions already in effect and places them in a position where they too can be modified.

After reading about minimal Nomics, I was inspired to organize one. It didn't last long, degenerating into nonparticipation. A later attempt with different players (some of them game designers) had better results.