I should preface this article by saying that I owe Neil Strauss’ book quite a bit. If it weren’t for “The Game,” I wouldn’t have even considered a lot of the joys of my daily life today even possible. If nothing else, Neil’s book exposed me to the idea that any man can improve his ability with women, and was the first step in a long journey that led me to where I am today. So for that, I have nothing but appreciation.
But with that, let’s get real.
Brilliant Piece of Marketing
I went back and re-read “The Game” for fun last year. This was over four years after it came out. Since reading it the first time, I had become a world-class professional Pick Up Artist in my own right, started my own pick up business and coached hundreds of men myself. So I was coming to it from a completely different perspective than I did when I was a poor sexless neophyte back in 2005.
A few things struck me, but what struck me most was that it was written like a brilliant piece of marketing.
Because of my business, I had been studying sales, marketing and promotion for the better part of a year and a half, and it blew me away how everything seemed to fit perfectly as a sales-piece.
You have the unlikely hero, an Everyman with a problem that almost every man can relate to. And here he is exposed to a perfect solution that seems so outrageously unbelievable. Then the book spends 400 pages showing how, in fact, the solution not only worked, but our hero grew as a person as well.
Also, I can tell you from my own experience and from working with hundreds of other guys who went through the same process as Neil: it is not nearly as cut and dry as it is for him in the book. For him, it’s like he hangs out with Mystery, learns a bunch of magic and cool routines, dresses kind of funny, and AMAZING, he’s the best Pick Up Artist on earth! That’s not how it works in real life at all. But that IS how a great piece of marketing works.
Now you may be saying, “Come on, Mark, so he cut some corners, so what?” But consider this. At the end of the book, Neil encourages you to go to his website and get on his email list.
From there, he launched THE single biggest product launch in internet marketing history at the time, bringing in over $11 million dollars. He then launched his business StyleLife which has over 40,000 members each paying $40 per month.
You sure it wasn’t a sales job?
The Book Isn’t Completely True
Now, I would still be skeptical, except for the fact that from 2007-2009, I met and hung out with a lot of other PUA coaches in the industry. Many of these guys were either students or lived at Project Hollywood with Neil (described in detail in the book).
Every single one of them said that there were many things that happened that Neil left out, many things that didn’t happen that Neil wrote about, and actions wrongfully attributed to various characters.
Now, I’m not here to start a smear campaign. But everyone I’ve met who lived in that house has come away with a bad taste in their mouth, and many of them openly don’t like the guy. You be the judge.
In Hindsight, the Advice is Horribly Outdated
Pick Up Artist advice, up until about 2007 or so, was — and I’m being brutally honest here — horrible. Completely ineffective at best and outright manipulative and misleading at worst.
Looking back at the book, it’s amazing that so many thousands of people actually believed that this crap worked. Opinion openers? Do you believe in Spells? Fuzzy top hats? Really?
On the other hand, millions of people read the book and DIDN’T believe it (many of my personal friends included), so I suppose that’s a testament to their common sense and not mine.
Here’s the thing, for the most part, the advice in the book is lousy. There is no formula to seduce women. There is no “best” or “worst” pick up artist in the world. Really it’s just one big underground movement of super nerds who desperately try to look cool in LA night clubs.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of good things to take from the book. “Don’t be yourself, be your best self,” the 3-second rule, the idea that the game is played in comfort (i.e. that connections are what really matter), the realization that the only way to win “The Game” is to leave it — these are all great ideas.
But wow, there’s a lot of crap and fluff too. Negs, DHV’ing, 7-hour rule, LMR, Patterns… it’s all garbage and can actually be harmful to guys.
More Damage than Good?
In hindsight, we’re able to look back at the book’s legacy. As a major part of the PUA community for five years, I felt that as time went on, the overall average of Style and Mystery’s advice did more harm to guys than good. It fucked my social life up and didn’t work for me for the six months that I tried it.
I’ll never forget the night I was talking to three cute girls at a bar, trying desperately to do a sleight-of-hand magic trick with a coin. I was extremely nervous and overly-excited. The girls had been extremely warm when I approached them, but now they seemed to be just being polite. I dropped the quarter and fucked the magic trick up a third time. Two of the girls got annoyed and walked away. Before the third one could leave — the one who had been most interested in me — I yelled, “Wait!” and immediately segued into a “Jealous Girlfriend” routine.
She interrupted me, looked me dead in the eye, and said, “You were kind of cute. You should try being normal next time.”
Those two sentences knocked me on my ass. For the rest of the night and days afterward, I couldn’t stop thinking about them. So I did. I did go out, and tried to be normal. And I started from there.
But I have to be fair to Neil and the book, it DID show me that there’s a whole world of social opportunities out there that I was unaware of, it DID teach me that women are open to being picked up and seduced far more than the average man believes, and it DID put me on a road of self-improvement and social mastery.
So on the whole, was it worth it? For me it was. Unfortunately, I’ve talked to too many guys who feel like the whole PUA thing just screwed them up. In the end, it’s impossible to say. But we do know one thing for sure… Neil’s bank account is doing fine.