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When Eric Berne thought about the way people structure the greater part of their time, he thought chiefly about the kinds of games they play. Games in this sense have a serious sense, with something like the intensity of the Casino tables, or the football field. In such games, there are definite moves and rules, penalties and most importantly, excitement.

The games people play, according to Berne’s theory, almost always end up yielding ‘bad’ feelings. Games help people to structure time, to get strokes (usually negative), provoke and provide stimuli and prove to people that they are still alive, all in the service of preventing warmth, belonging and human closeness.

Games are based on discounts.  Abe Wagner claims that it takes two discounts to play a game. A game cannot start if there is no discount on the part of the first player, and it cannot continue without a further discount on the part of the second player. Discounts can be conveyed non-verbally as well as verbally. An enticing smile or a frown, a lowering of the eyelids, a provocative gesture, may all be non-verbal discounts, which invite a second player into the game.

We have all played games at some point in our relationships. In this Module, you will learn how to stop playing games yourself and be game free…and how to deal with others who are attempting to play a game with you.

Eric Berne’s book, Games People Play was a best seller for many years.