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Game is pick-up-artist lingo for skillful self-manipulation of mental states (“frame”)[1] to help with courtship and seduction.[2] The details of what constitutes "successful game" differs between pick-up artists. But for all pick-up-artists, “game” reflects a meritocratic value system of gamifying life, complete with “winners” and “losers”, in line with their free-will obsessed, dominance hierarchy focused, philosophy.[2]

Among major PUAs, self-induced self-esteem is positioned as the most important factor in dating. Some PUAs also focus on tricking women to land a date, for example by fabricating social status.

Around the mid-2000s, PUA lingo entered colloquial speech through the uncritical promotion of modified PUA tactics by Hollywood, dating/life coaches, and later some psychologists as well.[3]

Frame (see framing), according to pick-up-artists, refers to mental conditions that “give direction” to everything that happens in social interaction (including dating).[1]

Major proponents[edit]

Neil Strauss[edit]

In 2005, Neil Strauss published, “The Game”, which arguably pushed pick-up-artistry into the mainstream.[4]

In it Strauss describes game as boldness, speech patterns, standing out, smiling, awareness of surroundings, not using questions, love, and being able to take compliments.[5]

RSD Nation[edit]

RSD Nation was arguably the most influential in formalizing, “game”,within the PUA community. This is likely due to the fact that they seemed to have had the most members out of any PUA group in history. They argued looks and money didn't matter much in dating.

Natural vs unnatural game[edit]

“Natural game”
RSD Nation promoted, “natural game”, and defined it as: “changing how you expect the world to respond to you”.[6] This boils down to thinking positively about yourself to make others do the same. In general, RSD nation promoted game as a neoliberal or highly individualistic self-actualization project, such as literally asking people to read Ayn Rand to develop game.[6]
”Unnatural game”
Unnatural game, promoted by followers of RooshV, rather than RSD, was about “becoming the best man you can be”, rather than thinking-it-to-fruition. This meant a general self-improvement philosophy which included a strong focus on looksmaxxing.[7]



Multiple studies on face-to-face, online and blind dating concluded that among a variety of physical and personality traits examined including extroversion, only physical attractiveness strongly predicted initial romantic interest.[8][9] Other speed dating studies do however suggest small positive effects for certain behavioral traits broadly associated with the concept of “game”, notably social boldness in males (with one speed dating study finding that women evaluated narcissistic male dates more favorably largely due to crossover between narcissism and extraversion).[10] An obviously rejoinder to the above research would be that women in such short-term dating oriented contexts such as speed-dates are forced to rely on strongly reliable cues such as physical attractiveness as opposed to more nebulous traits such as behavioral dispositions, and there is some evidence that suggests that speed dating does prime women to select for such cues more strongly (though mainly due to the amount of options they have in such contexts and not the brevity of such dates).[11]

It is important to note that, however, one of the studies (Walster et al., 1966) that found that looks was the main driver of men's dating success, was a “computer dating” study that consisted of a lengthy date. Thus it is highly plausible that the women in the study would’ve had the chance to get an accurate impression of the man's personality in this time frame. In this study, third party rated looks was the second strongest factor correlated with the opposite sex partner's rating of the likability of the date (the individuals own evaluation of the attractiveness of the respective dates played a much larger role), and factors commonly claimed to be integral to the successful application of “game”, such as masculinity and high self-esteem, were only weakly related to women's evaluations of these men.

In this study, third party rated looks correlated around r = .4 with the women's evaluations of male dates, a much lower effect size than that found with the speed dating studies. This implies that other factors than looks do play a large role in determining dating outcomes beyond first acquaintance, but what factors they are was not clear in this particular experiment. It could also be a result of methodological errors in the design of the study. The number of raters, for instance, was lower than is required for the physical attractiveness ratings to be highly statistically reliable.

While PUAs would likely argue in response that “game” is a holistic concept that is hard to define in limited terms such as self-esteem, this research does indicate that the behavioral traits that PUAs commonly focus on as being crucial to male sexual success (“frame”, behavioral masculinity, self-esteem, dominance etc.) are overrated in terms of driving female attraction, at least directly and in purely one-on-one social contexts.

Online dating[edit]

Similarly, on online dating apps such as OkCupid, looks are supreme in driving judgements of romantic favorability. When OkCupid asked users to rate looks and personality separately, users did not distinguish between the two, they were isomorphic, nearly perfectly correlated. To confirm their hypothesis that profile pictures what people were actually rating when they were evaluating people's “personality”, OkCupid followed up with another internal study which showed that online bio text accounts for less than 10% of what users think of the profiles.[12]

This means game in terms of witty and confident textual self-descriptions is likely largely ineffective. It is not clear from this how important “text game” would be in attaining IRL meetups after you meet the woman's looks threshold.

Meeting online is now a common way for people to get to know each other, however, this includes meeting up through social networks and chats, where personality and common interests may play a larger role than in driving romantic outcomes than online dating apps.


Arguably, game in terms of charm, social skill and Machiavellian behavior may be effective outside of the face-to-face dating context, e.g. during socializing in a group, which is the more natural human mating context anyhow.[13] In a social context, confidence, charm and related social skills may act as means of gaining social status and intimidating other males in intrasexual competitions which, in turn, enables men to attain access to social circles with single women. Women may also have a greater tendency to evaluate men comparatively in such contexts and thereafter choose from the most socially dominant men.

Though even in strictly dyadic interactions, there is evidence that certain personality traits, such as confidence, are associated with men's mating success to some extent. For example, Li et al. (2020) conducted a series of speed dating studies that examined the effect that two interventions, a short coaching session from a PUA and a non-PUA neutral “social skills” tutorial (together with a control group where no intervention was performed) had on women's perceptions of the men's desirability and their likelihood of choosing the men for future dates.[14] They found that while there was no significant difference in female's chance of choosing the men in the PUA vs. the social skills training group of men (but the PUA trained guys were seen as more desirable), there was a small-to-medium effect comparing the control group to the intervention groups (d = 0.39 for the social skills tutorial vs. control). The results of a multiple regression analysis suggested that that most of this heightened mating success was mediated by women's perceptions of the coached men as being more confident. Thus, confidence does likely make men more attractive to women, though replication studies that attempt to control for physical attractiveness would elucidate how potent this effect would be for men of different rough physical attractiveness cohorts. The most important implication of this study is that behavior can be possibly altered enough (at least in the short-term) to have a measurable positive impact on men's dating success.

Leading some further credence to the concept of “game”, there is also a line of research (however yet to be reproduced) on "mating intelligence" suggesting a correlation of r = .41 with mating success.[15]

Personality does matter[edit]

Thus, it would be highly inaccurate to say personality does not matter at all. For example, there is research suggesting people prefer to be in relationships with those who share their interests. Certain personality traits are weakly but consistently linked to higher sexual success in males, such as extroversion while other traits, i.e. agreeableness, predict lower sexual frequency but also longer, higher quality marriages and relationships. Conscientiousness seems to be positively linked to sexual success in men but is also negatively associated with infidelity (impulse control).[16][17]

Other studies on frame-projection[edit]


A study claimed that humor was seen as a desirable long-term-partner trait in men by women, but only if the man is good looking.[18] A different study found self-deprecating humor by high-status presenters (but not low-status presenters) increased long-term attractiveness for both sexes.[19]


Main article: Fashion

Clothing is a way to display frame (if we’re to take this term seriously) on both online dating and offline dating.


  1. 1.0 1.1
  2. 2.0 2.1
  6. 6.0 6.1
  17. Haydon, A. A., Cheng, M. M., Herring, A. H., McRee, A.-L., & Halpern, C. T. (2013). Prevalence and Predictors of Sexual Inexperience in Adulthood. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 43(2), 221–230. doi:10.1007/s10508-013-0164-3

See also[edit]


TurdFlingingMonkeyPaul ProteusLFA

Pick-up artists

Ross Jeffriesr/TRPReal Social DynamicsRooshVOwen CookPlayer SupremeWinston Wu

MRAs Warren FarrellNatty KadifaMel FeitKaren StraughanHoney Badger RadioAlison TiemanPro-male collective


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