The Glass Bead Game

The Glass Bead Game is a way of playing with the ideas of human culture; it uses them like a painter paints with the colors on the palette. The insights of the world’s great scholars and artists have been reduced to core topics, with which the Glass Bead Game player plays. It is up to us to design and perfect the game. Theoretically this game can contain the entire knowledge of the universe.

…in 1947 the writer Herman Hesse introduced (in his book of the same name) the Glass Bead Game. It is a sense-making process which is played by monks in the futuristic enigmatic province of Castalia. In the book however, he never explains the gameplay. Unlike the culture of Hesse’s time, as we travel through the new millennium, better visions are manifesting and mysteriously the rules have been revealed…

Now it can be played by you.

How to Play

A games steward, called Magister Ludi, organises the gameplay, which is:

  1. A spoken improv of one minute turns between two players
  2. The player speaks upon a topic chosen from a set of 24 starter topics, and play a total of 10 x one-minute turns (called beads) on the topic.
  3. The players listen carefully and respond to each bead upon their turn.
  4. The players avoid the use of I and you to bypass the ego, which also encourages flow and openness.

A Timer is used to synchronize the players together.

The Magister Ludi will usually introduce a mindfulness practice at the beginning of a session, and each individual game will have a minute of meditation. Some players may be slower and more reflective, or even silent, this is a space for reflection.   

The practice is more important than any pressure for a notion of success which could inhibit players from giving their valuable contribution.  

The aim of the game is to develop clear ideas, deep, unselfish listening, and game awareness which will allow us to participate in the collective intelligence of humanity. 

Variations on the basic game can be of any length, be played by any number of players, in different formats and media.

Here is an example of a game on Art.

To learn more about how to play, read the How To here.

There is also an in depth explanation here.

The Archetopics


The Archetopics is the original set of beads that we play with. We encourage you to generate your own beads with their own symbols.