Traditionally, it's considered that women developed the art of playing games in love, but men are certainly not far behind. The period of uncertainty in the beginning of any relationship, when you have to decide whether he's really interested or just messing around, is one of the most difficult.
The best clue you can hope to get is his history. If he has a long track of changing girlfriends every week, and a huge "little black book" of phone numbers of potential partners, then it's definitely a red flag. Of course, early on, it may be difficult to get an accurate understanding of his past relationships, but you should not be afraid to ask some questions, if you're not comfortable with what you see up front.
The most common strategy among game players – men and women alike – is the "give and retreat" approach. Basically, this means that he gives everything during a date, he's careful, focused on you one hundred percent, paying attention to what you have to say and trying to make the event as meaningful as possible, only to blow you off the next time you 're supposedly to meet, most often using a very weak excuse. Then he comes back, convinces you that the excuse was actually a very good one (you know how it goes, the friend's dog is very important, he had to take it to the vet on that very day, nobody else was available to do it , and so on); and the cycle starts again.
Another strategy is to try unusually hard to convince you that what he's doing – either as a job or as a hobby – is very important, unreasonably important, if you manage to take a step back and evaluate the situation objectively. You probably know the type – men who have to manage a team of three people in their office, but act as if they're leading an army into battle, or those who work front-office jobs in a bank, and behave as if the world's financial situation rests on their shoulders. This is the type of man who will constantly try to put you down, to reduce your confidence level, and to show that he knows more than you, and everything you do or say is wrong.
All these things seem clear and simple in theory, but they are a lot more difficult to identify in reality, especially when you're already emotionally involved. It's sometimes better to watch the reactions of those around you, instead of focusing all your attention on him. Ask your friends how they feel about this – and listen to what they have to say, even if it may seem harsh. Look at his friends – and insist on meeting some of them, if you have not already – and try to see if they perceive you as a future presence in their lives, or just a mere acquaintance who will vanish in the following weeks.
Unfortunately, players will rarely admit what they're doing, when asked directly. Some of them are not even aware they play games, as they consider themselves to be genially interested in a woman … for a couple of weeks or so. Even worse, such suspensions put a blossoming relationship under consideration stress from the beginning, and often it's impossible to recover the romance and mystery that should have been there in the early stages.