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  • Writer's pictureMarco Gaudenzi

“Games people play” Eric Berne’s point of view on interactions

Do you like to play games? The truth is it’s what we do all day, every day. It’s no joke! It’s what psychology tells us.

In 1964 Eric Berne wrote a book for an audience of professional psychologists, but it immediately caught the attention of a larger public, becoming a New York Times bestseller and selling more than 5 million copies.

The book is “Games people play”, and was the result of Berne’s application of game theory in psychology. In the book, the author explains the transactional analysis, a psychoanalytic theory developed by Berne himself, which examines the interaction between individuals in their true, unconscious nature. Berne observed that every living creature feels the need for contact since they’re born, it is physical at the first stages, then it becomes verbal and with other kinds of interactions, which he called “transactions”. The principle behind his theory is that a transaction, no matter if good or bad, is always better than no interaction at all. So we learn from a very young age structured ways of connecting with others to obtain a personal gain, a “stroke” in Bernie’s terms, which is the unit of transactions.

In the book he sees different patterns of behaviour that people act in everyday life, that he describes with funny titles like "See What You Made Me Do”, "Why Don't You — Yes But”, and "Ain't It Awful?”. It turns out that we like playing games, even if we don’t notice that we are unconsciously participating in one, but can we use this to our advantage?

The answer is: yes!

If you know that you’re "playing a game", or maybe we can say that you can recognise a pattern, you’re going to be able to choose the trait of your personality in a more conscious manner, without entering in dangerous automatisms.

At VTX we see during our Experiences a lot of behaviours that happen without the people engaging noticing them: you have the leader, the person that knows the right answer but doesn’t speak because they’re shy, the sarcastic one that is sabotaging the game for everybody and so on. You can probably see this in your work environment as well, and while some attitudes are good in a team and should be nurtured, others can be changed through observation and analysis.

VTX offers you a safe environment where you can explore your team dynamics and, as external observers, we can provide feedback to help you focus on your team’s strengths and areas of growth.

Contact us at or browse our website to learn more about our services!

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