Another Game Theory Reflection

We had an interesting session of Game Theory and Game Design yesterday, but I’ll let Josh tell you about it (if we had trouble getting dice in, I think the materials for Mr. Twist’s favorite game – Kiss the Girls – are going to be even more of an issue). In the meanwhile, here’s another short reflection piece from one of our students.

S.T.M. writes:*

When I first came into this “Game Theory” class, I didn’t understand the purpose of teaching such a class. My first impression was “What could they possibly teach a person about the theory of a game such as ‘Tic Tac Toe,’ ‘Checkers,’ or any of the everyday games that people play. Then I started listening to Prof. Levine and Prof. Miller explain the logic and calculation of such “Games of Chance.” Then I had an “AHA moment” and began to see how these “Theories” are actually used in the Judicial system and the Criminal Justice System. One of the theories, “Prisoner’s Dilemma,” is the exact theory they use in the Criminal Justice System to get 65%-75% rate for plea bargaining in most criminal cases. I began to see how even military leaders use these theories to determine “Collateral Damage” prior to reaching their possible objective. It was very interesting and enlightening. It’s amazing how some of the simplest things have such an extraordinary effect on the way things are run in the society or even the world.

I have to say, the game “Go,” I still don’t see the logic and purpose for it. Maybe if there were some instructions**, but I just don’t get that game. But the game of “Forbidden Island,” this was not only interesting but it was fun. This game changed my whole attitude about competition in a game. It forced me to restrain my drive to be the “King of the Hill” and change it to a team or community mentality. This game helps remove the selfishness that is the center of our present society’s attitude to one of “Cooperation for Survival for All.” I could actually see a society change mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually if this principle was the moral and guiding principle. As much as I hate being punished and suffering for the actions of another person, when I look at the overall picture of this social principle it would be very beneficial to any culture of people who use it.

Now that I have some insight into the theory of the game, I realized that the “Department of Corrections” is now using this theory as a form of discipline in its system. And it’s working. However, the laws of the “Jungle” still apply, the men of the jungle now apply the “Stop, Think, and Discuss method” before they respond. It has been beneficial for the environment, but they still have to be alert for abuse of power and those who have the authority must remember that it doesn’t take much to wake up the Monster if it’s pushed too far. Overall, I find this class very interesting and look forward to our new game “Diplomacy.”***


* As always, this is a transcription of the student’s writing – I’ve just fixed a couple minor grammatical and typographical issues.

** This refers to a problem we had with the Go sets. To get materials that are not books, papers, or other things that obviously belong in a classroom through security clearance, we’re often asked to order things from Amazon and have them shipped directly to the prison library rather than bringing them in ourselves. So, that’s what we did with the Go sets – but we didn’t realize that they showed up without any printed rules in them, and we didn’t think to check the sets for instructions before we sent the guys off to try playing during their “study hall” (we showed them the game and talked about its logic, but by drawing Go problems on the board, rather than with the sets). So, our bad. We did – when we realized this – go over the rules again and write them down with the guys, but it was still a source of understandable frustration.

*** Sorry, Mr. Shakkir! I’m afraid Diplomacy undoes all the social lessons of Forbidden Island

1 Comment

  1. xenomouse

    Hanabi is an incredibly good game for teamwork (arguably the best), though more abstract. Pandemic is good too and thematically interesting like Forbidden Island, though more complicated and difficult.

    If you ever consider trying Werewolf-type games, I would go with Resistance or its follow up Resistance: Avalon – its a deception / deduction game with teamwork. With that said, I know a few people who can’t play those games without getting hurt feelings.


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