HAGT is an anagram for Harrison’s Applied Game Theory…
…To understand how HAGT works you need to understand how game theory works.
Among scientists, game theory is the name used to describe systematic concepts that were designed to explain why and how individuals and organizations strategize, i.e. make decisions when one person (or more than one other person) might also affect the outcome of the decision. This concept is so important that researchers in the field have won dozens of Nobel Prizes including the two awarded this year
Today, (2020) game theory has become an umbrella term or ‘unified field’ theory for thousands of games, most being rational approaches to many different defined interactions including relationships in business, spirituality, competition, sports, romance and even interactions with nonhuman players such as computers, animals, and plants.
Another way of describing game theory is the observation of a set of ideas and numbers that describe the past, present, or future state of something particularly strategic interactions between two or more individuals or groups (players) in a situation containing set rules and outcomes. Gamer theory used in a number of disciplines and can be applied to make individual choices in everyday life. The theory has most notably used as a tool within the study of economics, particularly in politics, sports, and international affairs. The economic application of game theory can be a valuable tool to aid in the fundamental analysis of industries, sectors, and any strategic interaction between two or more firms or individuals who need to strategize to create maximum benefit at the lowest possible cost.
How is game theory connected to happiness? Happiness can mean different things to different people. What game theory, especially my approach, known as Harrison’s Applied Game Theory (HAGT) can do is, reduce the ways in which people suffer.
Suffering is disruptive and at times necessary mental, emotional, psychological, and also a spiritual experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with harm or threat of harm. On the positive side, suffering can contribute to how you organize meaning in your emotional world and much more. One should never assume that all suffering is negative. The key is to understand which suffering is essential and which is a self-created illusion.
Some suffering is an expression of natural law — an essential tool for survival. For the unaware individual, it is often a negative experience, especially if this individual has made poor choices in the past.
Compassion, one of the most worthy, and admired human qualities; often comes from recognizing the suffering of others. Their suffering may present great meaning and direction to your own life, motivating, and also inspiring you to serve others in need. This service, in turn, creates a larger sense of community.
What determines how intense your suffering is or will be? The origin and cause of suffering; its processes, the meaning it presents to the individual who seems to be suffering; it’s related social, personal, and cultural behaviors; the knowledge of how to manage, reduce, or eliminate the suffering; and the benefits one might accrue for having suffered will all influence the intensity of that suffering. Add to this the frequency of each occurrence, plus the concurrence of mental, emotional, psychological, and also spiritual factors involved. Now by combining these with the duration of the suffering, and you have a wide range of experiences related to suffering.
If you are to understand the meaning of your life it is essential that you explore how and why you suffer.
The Meaning of Life
All human suffering, whether necessary or self-created, is tied to obstacles that have meaning for us. Such an obstacle
may be associated with some physical or psychological discomfort, or spiritually speaking, from the “pain of longing” — the seeking of something deeper than the world of form. Who can say what it might be?
Transcending obstacles defines much of what goes on in life. Think about it. It is likely that you function day to day on “automatic pilot,” then suddenly you experience a usually unexpected obstacle. Now, this obstacle might be walking up the steps of a non-functioning escalator, or waiting in a long line at the post office. It may be something equally annoying like a sudden red light that causes you to hit the brakes on your car. These types of challenges are what get your attention.
When things, events, or people limit your freedom, these “obstacles” take on meaning. We are also often drawn to things of great beauty, sensuality, and elegance. These things also have meaning. So as you can see, to notice something, positive or negative is to give it meaning.
What does it mean for something to have meaning? This is an important question. Many great thinkers have proposed that all meaning is based on your perception as well as shifts in your perception.
Many of us go through life unconsciously. We each decide arbitrarily that some things are important while others are not. Something might have meaning now that did not have any meaning just a few moments ago.
Does ‘meaning’ have to have a particular quality or quantity to it? Will any sense of meaning do? How would you even know if something had more than a superficial meaning? What’s the link between meaning and significance in daily action? If something has meaning for you, does it have ‘meaning’ because it reinforces your sense of being — or is something deeper going on? Is meaning anything more than what grabs your attention?
Your answers to these questions about the “meaning of life” may have great implications for how you think, make choices, use language, and communicate with others in the process of daily living. Without this inquiry, you may be destined to a life of confusion or intellectual, emotional, and spiritual numbness.
What Harrison’s Applied Game Theory does is offer a person the ability to be more effective, efficient, precise, productive, and self-aware. It also gives creative and innovative thinkers the opportunity to create greater meaning in their life by making a measurable difference in the world.
So I did applied game theory become the center of my life?
In 2002 I saw the movie A Beautiful Mind about Nobel prize-winning mathematician John Nash. Nash was a pioneer in the development of Game Theory. This story is not about Nash or the movie. It is about the door that opened in my mind’s eye after seeing the film.
The subject of this particular story is actually not a human being, it is a concept – applied game theory. Please note that I am not a mathematician and I am not an academic and I am not a computer scientist. I’m just a regular person trying to make the best of my life as most of us are.
After seeing a Beautiful Mind it became obvious to me that everything in life, as is often said is a “game”. That is a common cliché, winning the game of life, yet, what does that exactly mean?
For me, it means that except for a few things such as the hunger to learn of spiritual things, the nature of art, the exploration of truth, understanding philosophy, making sense of our emotions, and the experience of culture, everything in life really is a game.
In practical terms that means that in a world made up of people, places, and things there’s always a playing field, a board, or a game space of some type. The game might be a video game, your job, your family, or your friendships. You can’t have a game without a game space, whether a conceptual environment (a political party) or an actual playing field or board as in football, chess, or track and field.
All games will have players, and in applied game theory, there must be at least two players (sometimes the other player is a computer algorithm). If a game has many players and is highly competitive, there will usually also be cheaters. Here, cheaters are players (often called “agents”) who know that they are not going to win the game playing by the rules. These players intentionally break the rules knowing that they will be caught. It is a type of strategy. They calculate that the benefits they will gain from cheating will be greater than the cost of any penalty they might receive for cheating.
If a person is to win at the game of life, they must have an endgame. An endgame here is what a person wishes to achieve at the end of a specific process (game). Is it wealth, a great marriage, a nice home, to become a philanthropist, to experience spiritual fulfillment? So what are the markings of a game? Every game, in order to be a game, must have a game space, rules of engagement, players, referees, penalties for cheating, and a definition of what winning means (the end-game).
Once a person realizes that life really is a game, specific changes will take place in their way of thinking.
To begin with, winning and knowing when you have won becomes essential in the process. To win, does not mean everyone else has to lose. There are win-win games where all the players get to win. However, when placed in situations where other people insist on playing a strategy where only they win and everybody else needs to lose, the skilled gamer not only knows how to outwit their adversary but can even convert their adversaries’ point of view so that everyone benefits.
Ultimately, when a person sees their life as part of a larger game they are likely to develop a greater interest and intention to be more effective, efficient, precise, productive, and self-aware (EEPPSA).
So each of us has a choice to make. Do we want to live our lives without much thought, simply surviving and maybe prospering if we get lucky? Or do we want to have an intention and look at each moment mindfully, recognizing that with game thinking at our base we can maximize our potential at the lowest possible cost? With this line of thinking, we can also help others to win, making the world a better place?
In this complex, multi-layered game, we call “life”, living through cognitive biases, logical fallacies, Fake News, and so-called “alternative facts” just won’t work.
The game of life
In order to survive and prosper, even the most simple and common person will need to understand some basic ideas. These are ideas that can be understood by a 9th Grader. Even an individual who has played Tic-tac-toe, Rock-paper-scissors, checkers, chess, ping-pong, or any team sport can follow this line of thought to solve problems.
At the next level…
There are more sophisticated and advanced ideas which any high-school student would be familiar with that can be applied to solve problems and for “winning the game of life”. Ideas that include Murphy’s Law, worst-case scenarios, deductive reasoning, inductive reasoning, critical thinking, pattern language, probabilities, etc. These are the types of ideas players often use in poker, sports betting, or in applying common sense to solve a problem. Those who can do this and do it well will prosper and survive better than those who don’t.
“the person who refuses to learn about applied game theory in the game of life will be eaten by those who do”.
Why do I say this? Because often, in life, those who know gamer thinking may not always be ethical, moral, or even have your best interests at heart. It is important to be able to see trouble coming and have the ability, strategies, and tactics to address these challenges.
The takeaway here is to recognize your life is a game, recognize you are a player in that game, and that all the people around you, whether they know it or not, are also players in that game. When you play, play to win. If you are a truly extraordinary player, a true visionary, play for everyone to win!
About the Author: Lewis Harrison teaches and Coaches individuals and organizations about using Applied Game Theory to become more efficient, effective, and productive. Contact him at Lewiscoaches@gmail.com
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More About the Course on Applied Game Theory
Researchers in game theory have won over twenty Noble Prizes.
Learn more about the powerful tool of applied game theory for self-improvement, personal development, and strategic life skills.
Applying all of the gaming skills you have learned from the sandbox, through Rubick’s Cube, and now into video games and sports will change your life in every way, for the better.
The Course in Applied Game Theory A-Z and Beyond…: Learn how to use applied game theory in your own life with this personalized and comprehensive course