Xpovos298,974 (165,758)Virginia

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Xpovos

Xpovos' Blog (89 followers)

Aug
11
PermalinkGame Theory
It likely surprises no one that I am quite the fan of game theory. For those who need a quick refresher, game theory is a study of a specific set of games. The most common example is the classic "Prisoner's Dilemma" and it's many variants. A quick aside, I recently had the experience of coming at the etymology of the word dilemma through an odd back channel. It was amazing. If you like words, I recommend you look it up yourself.

Back to the theory. The Prisoner's Dilemma is a well-known problem and it is "solved" in that the optimal strategies are known. But that does not mean that everyone knows the problem, or the optimal solutions, and the problem of the dilemma is that if you are playing with uneducated, untrustworthy, unreasonable, or chaotic players, the optimal solutions can get you killed. Particularly if you only get to play once.

Political Science, one of my passions, spends what is probably far too much time looking at the Prisoner's Dilemma. When trying to understand rational actions by political actors, the dilemma is often used as a stand-in. Economics, another passion, does as well. So I end up coming at the dilemma from a lot of different perspectives in my pursuit of education.

But treating the dilemma as a political quandary is the case with a web-game I recently came across.

The game. The dilemma.The game. The dilemma.


I recommend clicking through on the link. It says it takes half an hour to play, but I was done in ten minutes. I did then go on to spend another ten minutes playing around in the sandbox mode.
Someone less familiar with the material could easily spend a ton of time here, and gain a lot of insights, it is a well-programmed time-waster. The game mechanics are solid and fun to play with and it does a good job of teaching the basics.

Ultimately, though, it does fall a little short. I think the point that the author is trying to make about "life in general" is perhaps a little lost. Political scientists do love to think they have the solutions to all of life's problems; or at least the correct outline and definition of the problems.

However, life is not as simple as the Prisoner's Dilemma. And even this web game shows that.

But for a game without achievements, it's a good way to spend some time.
Posted by Xpovos on 11 August 17 at 01:49
AlbinoKidELITE I've been thinking about Game Theory a lot too in poker terms; there's a growing divide between the statistical-minded players who seek to play a GTO (Game Theory Optimal) strategy, the goal of which is to guarantee a profit in the long term by balancing their ranges in such a way as to be unexploitable, and the more traditional "feel" players who make decisions based on tells, "soul reads" and various meta-game factors in order to exploit weaknesses they perceive in their opponents. The former strategy has a guaranteed +EV return, the latter opens up the possibility of an even greater return but comes with much more risk of losing when wrong. The GTO players view exploitative play as an unnecessary guessing game where you risk ending up in a levelling war - player A bets small on the river, giving player B great odds to call, so it looks a lot like a good hand trying to get paid, but player B knows player A knows that's what it looks like, so maybe it is actually a bluff? Which is the truth, and can you discern it from looking into your opponent's eyes? Much safer to go by the maths, surely?

Obviously this is different to the game you reference above in that poker is a zero-sum game and that focused more on our approaches to non-zero-sum scenarios, I just wanted you to know that I share your fascination with this subject, especially in a world that feels increasingly full of irrational actors.
Posted by AlbinoKidELITE on 11 Aug at 22:08