The Game – Penetrating the secret society of pickup artists

The Game – Penetrating the secret society of pickup artists

Summary of Neil Strauss’s book The Game: Penetrating the secret society of pickup artists. A journalist named Neil Strauss had no success with women. He put his ego aside and decided to sign up for coaching in seduction. There he met Mystery, one of the first online seduction coaches. He became his assistant under an assumed name – Style. He took advantage of this notoriety to meet all the experts in seduction at the time and he penetrated the underground world (secret as in Fight Club) of PUAs. The book is told in the form of an educational autobiography on how to get ahead in this field. The reader will discover how to seduce a woman, as well as the unwritten rules and general tips on how to become more attractive in general.

Written by Neil Strauss, 2005, 547 pages.
Original title: The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists.

Note : this is a guest chronicle written by Fabrice Julien, a French PUA and author of the blog Diary of a French PUA.

Chronicle and summary of Neil Strauss’s book The Game:


The Game is a divisive book. You will either be offended by it and hate it OR find it awesome and want to find out more about the mysterious community of seduction. If you are in the first category, please try to keep an open mind as you read and perhaps I will succeed in changing your opinion.

The huge popularity of The Game and the feedback that ensued are a good demonstration of just how much the lessons that readers learned from the book helped them to find what they were looking for: How to chat up a girl with confidence.

The pickup artists we are talking about here are not bad men.

Like it says in the book:

“The dictionary defines seduction as the act of corruption, in particular to lead a woman to consent to extra-marital relations by overcoming her scruples. In other words, seduction involves deception, dishonesty, hiding your objectives. That is not what I am interested in. The seduction I teach consists of making you work on yourself, improving yourself to the point where women are attracted to you like a magnet and want to be close to you.”

Part 1:  At the start of the book, Neil is an “AFC”.

An AFC (Average Frustrated Chump) is a man who wants to use the politically correct stereotypes that the media teaches when it comes to seducing a woman. Often shy, he has false beliefs about women and collects brush-offs like a hyperactive sweeper.

He finds himself with few women around him, or with women who have put him in the “friendzone”.

My opinion:

Neil Strauss describes himself as a geek who is short and not handsome, but I know plenty of “not bad-looking” men who don’t have any success with women.One reason for this is that for a man, seduction depends a lot on your attitude.

Another is that I think the two sexes do not understand each other. When I go to a club or when I observe everyday interactions between men and women, I often notice this kind of man who is clumsy and nervous. He is sometimes resigned to “having sex with his own hand” at night before he even opens his mouth to speak to a woman. And yet, he is surely a great guy. He doesn’t know how to present something attractive to women.

Too many men confuse “being nice” with “being attractive” (note that I am not advising men to become mean, but to become genuine). I think that it would be good for people who think that what I am saying is unrealistic to see that it doesn’t have to be like this. A few small details can make a huge difference in your relationship with the opposite sex.

So many people are unhappy. I am amazed by the statistics on domestic violence and divorce rates. But because sex (and seduction) is supposed to be something innate and taboo, we don’t talk about it and many people suffer in silence (women too).

Neil Strauss was suffering, but he made an intelligent decision to change. He is a fighter and once he starts something, he finishes it. He is very motivated. And he used a report he was working on for Rolling Stone Magazine as a pretext to pay for a course in seduction with Mystery.

Mystery is an innovator who has made a science out of seduction. He offers to demonstrate and teach his expertise at paid seminars. Neil explains that he was ashamed to pay to learn how to seduce women.

On the other hand, he tells us about the extent of his love life and he is ashamed of that, too. So, to overcome his sentimental loneliness, he takes the step. His intimate confessions are touching.

My opinion:

Many women read articles about seduction in women’s magazines. They are not ashamed of it. In fact, I feel like this is only a shameful subject… FOR MEN (that is why most of the members of the seduction community want to remain anonymous and keep the fact that they are interested in picking up women a secret).

But isn’t seduction a universal problem?
Through a lack of information and reliable sources, us men need to make a lot of progress in this area. Only a rare few genuinely have an understanding of the science.

If we spent one hour a week in high school teaching how to understand the opposite sex, French people would surely be much happier throughout their lives. Of course, this is just my personal thought. It is not a proposal for the government.

Over the course of his coaching, Mystery sees potential in Neil and decides to take him under his wing. He gives him a makeover and turns him into his assistant. Neil Strauss becomes Style, because all the members of the seduction community have assumed names.

My opinion: This probably helps them to become someone else in order to loosen up.

Part 2:  Neil becomes a “PUA”.

Pick Up Artist, generally abbreviated to PUA is a term that comes from American English: it designates a man (not necessarily a handsome man) who is good at meeting, attracting and seducing women. A man who knows how to get a woman whenever he wants. He has solved the “love of his life” problem.


He is not necessarily obsessed with sex, or a sex addict or a misogynist or a narcissist pervert.

He is more often a normal man who has worked hard to improve and understand social interactions. Nor is he necessarily big-headed. Some of these men stay cool and simple and don’t consider themselves to be superior to others. They used to be like other people and they haven’t forgotten.

Of course, you have to love women to become a PUA, and not have enough of them in your life (or at least enough women to your taste), but this is the case with a lot of men. For me, it is a sign of ambition to be discerning about your partner and to give yourself the means to succeed.

So, either you are resigned or you fight to get ahead. There are some lucky men who have success with women naturally, but they are not PUAs. They are“naturals”.

The Game is both a personal journal that tells the story of Style’s development within the seduction community, and a personal development manual.


I can see all you outraged politically correct people coming for me: “The Game – Penetrating the secret society of pickup artists” is not a book about manipulation. The book is not designed to hurt women.

The members of the community are men like me who love women. They want to improve and understand them so that we can all enjoy ourselves together.

We are often much more feminist that most women themselves, because we fight FOR their sexual freedom. We learn not to judge them when they enjoy pleasure. It’s a form of utopia…

So, in his book The Game Neil Strauss has threesomes or has sex with X actresses in the club toilets. He tries different diets and different lifestyles (for example, he tries to sleep for 20 minutes every 4 hours). He likes to experiment and that appeals to me because we are similar on that point.

His physical appearance improves as a logical consequence of his personal development, but mostly it is the change in his personality and his new-found charisma that make the difference.
He also comes on to a lot of women, so his success is proportionate and statistically related to the number of women he tries to hook up with.

He completely loses his anxiety about talking to women. This is a castrating glass prison for many men (at the start some use the rule of not waiting more than 3 seconds before talking to a woman so that the negative thoughts that paralyse them cannot kick in… But you can become more spontaneous over time).


Neil carefully avoids talking about all the women on whom his approach does not work. He mentions it mostly at the beginning and after that you might feel that he doesn’t get rejected any more. So, he puts on the show of a model playboy, but the story does not tell us whether it is a fake routine. Take it with a pinch of salt.

In order to sell “The Game – Penetrating the secret society of pickup artists” and make it a best-seller, the author Neil Strauss wanted to make it sensational. Let’s not throw stones at him. He is only human! But I would have liked him to talk some more about his failures, so that we could lose a few more of our complexes.

Seduction is demystified in this book, and women too, so that is probably what bothers people. But it is an innovation that invites people who want to understand male-female relationships (evolutionary psychology, female psychology, mood, verbal and non-verbal communication, biology, sport, diet, lifestyles, etc.).

The Game may be a trigger for men who suffer because girls aren’t interested in them, but you have to put your ego to one side to question yourself and that is never easy. It will make you want to work to gain self-confidence, be more at ease with women and with society in general, and therefore happier.

My opinion:

Wanting to improve is an objective that seems noble to me. A human being should constantly seek to evolve, at least until he reaches a certain state of fulfilment.

How many men lead unhappy lives because they didn’t dare to change? It is logical to want to evolve if you consider something is not right; or if you think that something could be better. But it’s not always easy.

While you mustn’t fall into the trap “more and more to infinity”: recognising and accepting one’s weaknesses with the goal of improving is a brave undertaking that, with common sense and motivation, logically leads to happiness.

I would say that guys like me who are members of the seduction community are not geeks who are disconnected from reality. We are regular, ordinary guys, except we took a chance. And often he who dares wins!

Neil tells a story about a girl who mistook him for the singer Moby, which made her interested in him. Social status plays a big part when it comes to seducing women. I’m not saying they only care about money, but it’s only natural (even if some women are ashamed about this and want to hide it). In The Game you will learn about what is notable about attraction between the sexes, how men react to a woman’s beauty, while a woman reacts to the “alpha male” characteristics of a man (beauty and muscles okay, but above all confidence, popularity, being funny in a sexy way, ambition, independence…).

So no, you won’t turn into Ashton Kutcher, and you won’t have tons of groupies throwing themselves at you in the street.

But if you work at it, you will have more success and women than you can handle. There is no reason why it won’t work for you if it worked for Neil (and for me). That is the lesson to be learned from The Game (and from this article). So, if you have had a number of failures in your love life, here’s an idea. Instead of complaining, think about them and work on yourself.

My opinion:

What you really need to avoid is becoming the sad 30-year old guy wearing One Direction t-shirts and living with his parents who goes out 5 nights a week on his social security cheques to scout for teenagers.

Over the age of thirty, that guy won’t make it anywhere because his lifestyle sucks. I am pretty certain that he will never get to really choose his conquests because his lifestyle doesn’t offer him a wide panel of girls.

If you put down personal development and only focus on picking up girls, then you may end up becoming that guy. It is an extreme vision of a man with no desire to develop on a personal level.

At the other end of the spectrum, being an ace at personal development and spending your life reading as many books as possible or thinking about very specific topics (intellectual masturbation), never poking your nose outside to meet people and have sex (because it is kind of the goal of picking someone up) is not healthy either.

The mistake is looking at the community like a sect, an end in itself or like an easy business (this is often the case in France as few of the coaches are credible, casting ridicule on the profession).

After meeting all the writers who were causing a stir at the time (David de Angelo, David X, Juggler, etc.); Neil fell into the trap and decided to make a living through seduction.

He is involved from that point onwards. Even if he develops very interesting and relevant points of view; what he says can no longer be taken as gospel. Do not confuse PUA with seduction coach (in fact, there is no such thing as a seduction coach officially). I know a lot of men who are self-proclaimed PUAs when in fact they are not.

It’s not because a man claims to have slept with lots of girls (or worse, when he says he can’t show you what he knows how to do because he is in a relationship) and gives dog-eared advice on his blog that he is a competent coach (some of them are pathological liars and over-compensate for the emptiness in their lives).

So, keep your eyes open for scams (think for yourself and have a critical mind about the charlatans who are in it for the money but don’t really want you to improve because then you will stop buying their products)! It’s sad, but I get the impression that humans can often be disappointing.

Anyway, I don’t want to project negativity here. Having said that, you will see a lot of falling-out over girls and money in this book. PUAs get in each other’s way and manipulate each other. There is some kind of psychopath, Tyler, whose goal is to take control of the community by crushing his competitors (he is not even subtle about it).

Part 3: Neil becomes a “coach in seduction”.

In countries like Ukraine or Russia, it can be easy to sleep with beautiful girls; because the social rules are not the same. You would have to be very naive not to understand that if Mystery & Company hold seminars in Eastern European countries in The Game, it is because it is easy for an American, even an “average” one, to score there.

So their customers get the IMPRESSION that they have made REAL progress when they go home. The truth is that once they get back from their weekend or week away, they have not learned much. Seduction is a long-term learning process

Towards the end of the book, Neil talks about how women started throwing themselves at him because he had gained certain notoriety in the community. This also happened to me through my blog. The trap is to sit back on your laurels at this point.

Coaches in seduction are not all bad. But it is wrong to believe in magic solutions or in sales gimmicks. If you do, you will waste a lot of time and a lot of money (instead of saving time and money). You will become disillusioned and say that it doesn’t work.

Get to work (those who refuse to study or to question themselves about certain points will have no right to complain that their sexual appetite is not being satisfied or envy others who succeed)! Thankfully, success comes progressively, so you can feel encouraged that you are on the right path.

Part 4: Neil maintains the myth about love

At the end of the book, Neil Strauss leads us to understand that he ends up with a girl. This is reassuring for many well-intentioned readers.

But they should know that he wrote a follow-up book, so that means that his relationship did not last…so it is not the happy ending we read about in fairy tales when we were children. Now I’m not negative when it comes to love! However, sleeping with at least two or three women is recommended before embarking on a long term relationship.

And it is better to get to know a woman (this works with men too) before deciding that you are “in a relationship” in order to avoid a lot of disappointment. This is not necessarily about perpetuating the image of Don Juan collecting women or the heartless bad boy who feels a lot of ill-will towards women…

It is mainly because lots of men get into a relationship with the first girl who will have them. I’ve seen it many times: the guy who never makes it and with his first success, he refuses to let the girl go and gets into something that he submits to rather than enjoys because the chick is not really a good match for him after all.

Having a few princesses under your belt means that you know what you are looking for / not looking for in a girl. You know what character traits you like, which ones you find off-putting, which kind of personality is a good match for your own…

If realism is what you are looking for, I advise reading my free ebook Diary of a French PUA because it’s all there: the conquests, as well as my doubts and my many failures.

These many failures are almost invisible in The Game: Neil leads us to believe that there is a miracle recipe to seduce ALL girls. This is entirely untrue. In his book, he says that he chats up absolutely every girl he meets, yet he only has a few conquests to relate.

Weird, right? If a miracle technique did exist, then all these PUAs would be going out with famous actresses or rich supermodels and not just pretty girls. What appears, and this is often misunderstood by readers: hitting on women in the sense understood by The Gameis a lifestyle choice: you no longer care about the losers, the haters, the envious, etc.

The seduction community is not just about sleeping with pretty girls. It is also about opening your eyes to the world and doing a lot of personal development to become a better version of yourself. In fact, it’s about learning to live!

What’s quite funny is that Neil Strauss’s girlfriend tells him that she likes the “real” Neil. Not the Neil the community turned him into. And yet, had he not gone through this learning process; he would never have dared to talk to her or kiss her… Food for thought!

Part 5: A bridge to the future

We read things in The Game about people who were already famous or who have become famous since then. In particular about bloggers who opened websites offering advice about seduction or who made it in the community.

Among the stars who offer their opinions about The Game:

  • Tom Cruise loves it (and tried to convert Neil to Scientology but Neil refused because he is curious about everything and didn’t want to shut himself inside a single doctrine).
  • Neil met Britney Spears when he interviewed her. He is proud to say that he was a hit with her.
  • Paris Hilton fell for one of Neil’s students.

Among the PUAs who have made a name for themselves since The Game:

  • Mystery got a TV show. He recently brought out a new guide (albeit obsolete: it is simply a remake of his Mystery Method).
  • Ross Jeffries still holds seminars and still sells his method (very complex and difficult to apply in France; he also uses hypnosis which it controversial).
  • David de Angelo is still selling his method, even though it is obsolete too.
  • Tyler Durden now works at Real Social Dynamics.
  • Zan Perrion became a celebrity by dating the girlfriend of a famous actor.

Neil Strauss sold the rights to The Game with a view to making a film version. Pierre Niney and Gaspard Ulliel can fight about who will have the starring role!

Conclusion about the book The Game by Fabrice Julien from the blog Diary of a French PUA:

To this day, The Game – Penetrating the secret society of pickup artists remains my bible. I have already read it 6 times and I continue to find new things in it. It is true that, as I read it once a year, I have made progress in between. Everyone can find something interesting in the book. From the AFC to the PUA, not to mention the curious who simply want to fantasise (including women who are curious to find out more about men).

Having said that, even though the story is true, the author may have embellished and romanticised it to make it more “sellable”. Neil Strauss went on to open a school for seduction.

After I first read this book, I made a list of all the films and books Neil Strauss recommended and I read them all. I learned a lot of things in a variety of fields. These days, I am a PUA, a real one.

I have slept with more than one hundred women, in original circumstances. I keep a diary in which I talk about my most original and incredible adventures for the average guy held back by his limited way of thinking. And I am also committed to speaking out against narrow-mindedness and political correctness. The Game set me on the path to becoming a man, a real one, a modest alpha. I now hold all the cards I need to have thoughtful opinions about just about anything.

I am not a physically exceptional man, even if I have improved (you can see my photo on my FB page – take a moment to subscribe and receive my news), but I work every day to become a better version of myself. And I hope I will succeed. In any case, I will have tried, in contrast to many others who prefer to stay in their comfort zone and criticise everyone else, just because it is easier.

Women are no longer a problem for me. They are a source of fun. I even have a pretty girlfriend for the last 2 years who accepts what I do (open relationship). Anyone can do what I do… as long as they are motivated. Having said that, I am no longer looking for a “notch on my bedpost”. I just want to enjoy life when I get the opportunity. I have become much more realistic.

To conclude, let’s say that a genuine seducer, like the honest chatter-up; does not intend to force someone to do something they do not want to. The seducer only incites women to do what they secretly want to do.

Strong Points:

  • Easy to read.
  • A true story.
  • I love his mea culpa at the start of the book about the people he hung out with during this adventure (especially the women from the beginning when he was still very awkward).
  • Simply reading this book allows you to understand the basic rules of the Game (the science of seduction) and to gather techniques on how to chat up a girl. It should help you to loosen up and eliminate some negative beliefs.
  • Potential introduction to the seduction community: very motivating and uninhibiting for a boy who does not have a lot of success with women at the moment. When you read this adventure, you can say to yourself “If an average guy (physically) like Neil Strauss can do it, then there is no reason I can’t do it.”
  • The author describes all the trends and schools of thought in the field of seduction. The people who join the community will recognise themselves in the stages of progress. This may save them some time and help them to avoid the pitfalls (for example becoming a robot, becoming impersonal and only using ready-made techniques).
  • Directs the reader towards other, more general, books on personal development that are very relevant. It could be the starting point for a new life for everyone.
  • Allows the reader to take more control, to see that you are not alone in desiring women; and finding it difficult to talk to them.
  • As men, we needed a novel like this to compete with all the women’s magazines on the shelves.
  • The author Neil Strauss warns the reader against all the possible unhealthy downsides to the game (power can make you mad).
  • He insists that you should not abandon your studies or your job in order to study this art.
  • He warns against people who have received a biased emotional education.
  • You can understand that this book is not politically correct (even if it is watered down in relation to the kind of things you can find in the community).
  • Neil Strauss recommends the Mystery Method, but the material is obsolete these days. In any case, it is too complicated and difficult to manage for the average human being with other interests in life. I recommend you check out my blog or my methods that are less “brain busting”; and more “daring/virile” such as Fast Seduction. Basically, I will always take the side of simplicity. In my opinion, the only way to appreciate seduction is to consider it to be a game. But you are free to have another opinion!
  • Once he enters the community, Neil hardly tells any more stories about his failures; which could lead readers to believe that his success rate with women was 100%. They might think that their lack of success is because they incorrectly apply his methods or have poor body language. This is completely wrong and it makes people feel guilty. In reality, the women could be having their period, be lesbianj. For a man, it is not easy to think differently: we imagine that women are looking for the same thing in men that men look for in a woman. But you can succeed and it’s worth it! Women say that love is difficult, but it’s the same for us; even if we are too proud to admit it. Luckily, Neil Strauss wrote this book to offer us some solutions!!! Let he who has never typed “how to kiss a girl” or “how to dance at a club” or “what to say to a girl to make her like you” throw the first stone. We often ask the wrong questions… and it’s good to be aware of that!

Weak Points:

  • People who cannot read between the lines will only see a novel, but it could be read as a guidebook.
  •  In France, in practice we use the English terms… when we want to use them, that is. Some people are allergic to them, even though some of them are practical; there is no equivalent to the “friendzone” in French.
  • It leads readers to think that anyone can have the same success as Mystery and Neil in two years. Neil Strauss and Mystery are of higher intelligence than most. What’s more, Neil got a fast-track education with a variety of teachers. He even resorted to hypnosis to remove his restrictive beliefs.
  • Don’t worry about it too much, though. At the end of The Game, Mystery ends up in a psychiatric hospital. So put that into perspective or it could make you sick. Sometimes taking life as it comes is a funny thing!
  • Most especially – no peacocking. This refers to guys who dress extravagantly because they have extravagant personalities (Mystery is a magician).
  • It doesn’t mention homosexual relationships.
  • Neil Strauss does not really give women their say.

Another article that may interest you is on “The art of seduction” a book by Robert Greene; also the author of Power, the 48 laws of power and strategy, the 33 laws of war.

My rating : Neil Strauss the game Neil Strauss the game Neil Strauss the gameNeil Strauss the gameNeil Strauss the gameNeil Strauss the gameNeil Strauss the gameNeil Strauss the gameNeil Strauss the game

Have you read “The Game”? How do you rate it?

Mediocre - No interestReasonable - One or two interesting paragraphsIntermediate - Some goods ideasGood - Had changed my life on one practical aspectVery Good - Completely changed my life ! (1 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)


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