## GAME THEORY
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"A mathematical theory devoted to the study of problems of strategy, conflict and cooperation" (M. SHUBIK, 1967, p.151).

K. KRIPPENDORFF describes game theory as "A general theory of rational behavior for situations in which 1) two (two-person games) or more (multi-person games) decision makers (players) have available to them 2) a finite number of courses of action (play) each leading to 3) a well defined outcome or end with gains and losses expressed in terms of numerical payoffs associated with each combination of courses of action and for each decision maker. The decision makers have 4) perfect knowledge of the rules of the game, i.e. 1), 2) and 3) but no knowledge about the opponent's moves, and are 5) rational in the sense of making decisions that optimize their individual gains" (1986, p.32).

This "capitalistic" rationality is of course a quite narrow view of rational behavior (see below).

KRIPPENDORFF adds: "In a zero-sum game, one person wins what the other looses. In other situations gains and losses may be unequally distributed, which allows the representation of numerous competitive and conflictive situations".

And "The theory proposes several solutions, e.g., in a minimax stategy each participant inimizes the maximum loss the other can impose on him. A mixed stategy involves probabilistic choices".

"Experiences with such games revealed conditions for cooperation, defection and the persistence of conflict." (Ibid).

Games have been used – possibly overused: see hereafter – to modelize specific situations in economics and management science.

T.R. BURNS and L.D. MEEKER make the following comments about the rules proposed by J.von NEUMANN and 0. MORGENSTERN (1964), in the simplest case of a 2-persons game.

"1) The actors lack the will or opportunity in the action situation to transform the structure of the game, in particular to develop or discover new options.

"2) The actors have alienative or antagonistic social relations – as distinct from having only conflicting preferences (Actors may be in opposition on one level, for instance, with respect to evaluations of outcomes in a concrete interaction situation, without being in opposition on others, for instance, they have solidary relationships).

"3) Stability is assumed on higher levels of relationships between the actors as well as on the level of their preference structures (for which there is an equilibrium point)" (1976, p.112).

Synthetically, games are a much simplified analogy of real situations. Some uses of games may even border the metaphor and lead to quite dubious conclusions.

### Categories

- 1) General information
- 2) Methodology or model
- 3) Epistemology, ontology and semantics
- 4) Human sciences
- 5) Discipline oriented

### Publisher

Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science(2020).

To cite this page, please use the following information:

* Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (2020).* Title of the entry. In Charles François (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (2). Retrieved from www.systemspedia.org/[full/url]

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