Glass Bead Games

Neural Nets Considered Playful



Back in 1993, I found some files on a BBS regarding somthing called a "Glass Plate Game", which dealt with moving around tiles that represented ideas on a map, according to rules based on the player's interpretation of the iconic pictures on each tile. It was based on Herman Hesse's famous book "The Glass Bead Game," but I wouldn't know about this until more than ten years later. I was fascinated and wanted to learn more, but the zip archive was posted to the BBS as an accident. There was no point in playing with other teenagers, since cognitive psychology isn't talked about outside of a Science Fair. Still, the idea stayed with me, and eventually I made a pen-and-paper game out of it.

The Glass Bead Game With Icehouse Pieces


an Icehouse stash for each player (15 pyramid pieces, 5 1-pip, 5 2-pip and 5 3-pip), each player having a different colour, as well as a pad of Post-It(tm) notes, a pen, and a flat, level and smooth surface the notes and Icehouse pieces can rest on.


An Idea in the context of this game is a Post-It note affixed to the play area with text written on it; the text can be either a subject("a firetruck", "Daphne's boyfriend," "that time we went swimming"), or a predicate ("is red," "eats bugs," "made everyone laugh."). An Indicator is an Icehouse piece resting on it's side on an Idea. An Indicator Indicates another Idea.


Players agree on a single Idea to start. This Idea isn't owned by anyone, so no Indicator will be placed on it. It is called the Root Idea or Theme. Put the idea at one of the edges of the playing area (this is to limit the direction the game will be played). Agree who will go first, and turn order: roshambo works, or odds and evens.

On a player's turn, a player take the post-it notes pad, writes an Idea and places it on the play area with an Indicator. The Player has much lattitude on where the Idea can go, so long as it follows these rules:

The game ends when no more ideas can be placed, either because there are no more indicators left, or no more usable space on the table. Scoring is as follows:

Further Reading