Game Theory is spoken of with increasing frequency in the gaming world. Combinatorial Game Theory tells us many games are just piles of pebbles. Classical Game Theory tells us to assume everyone is rational and acting in their own best self interest. Math is involved. But, how useful is “game theory” to actual game players or game designers?
Regardless of the merits of formal study, there is a great deal of application for an informal one. One does not need to understand the maths behind the Prisoner’s Dilemma to recognize when it’s present in some larger game. There are lessons to be learned from games that edge on true game theory, but can be learned simply by playing (and paying enough attention to) games.
Join us for an exploration of the practical lessons one can learn from a dedicated, if informal, study of games.
Presented at PAX East 2013 on Saturday on the Tabletop Theatre, our 22nd PAX panel/lecture, we discuss a variety of game theory concepts and terms from the perspective of practical use as players of games. Being familiar with basic concepts like “cooperation” or “utility,” coupled with an extended study of the “toy” games that actually exist as sub-games within your games, you will be able to form more powerful heuristics for making good decisions.
We touch ever-so-briefly (and with a degree of oversimplification) on Combinatorial Game Theory, but ask the audience to attempt a sort of “deconstruction” of the class game Nim in order to arrive at some of the same basic principles.
A list of “game theory games”
Richard Garfield’s book – Characteristics of Games