Harrison’s Applied Game Theory. A Simple and Easy to Understand Approach To Solving any Problem – Written for a 12-Year-Old
7 min read
Q. Lewis, what is the meaning of game theory and Harrison’s Applied Game Theory?
A. Game theory is the study of why and how common sense (rational) and intelligent decision-makers choose to cooperate or compete with each other. Game theory is mainly used in politics, economics, and sports to predict how people will make decisions when they have a choice to make. Many adults do not realize it but they already use game theory in all kinds of deals, negotiations, offers, and other opportunities. Of course, kids use game theory all the time when they play games in school, after school, or even at home.
Harrison’s Applied Game Theory (HAGT) shifts the model of game theory in a radical way. In traditional models of game theory, it is assumed that the players are rational. In HAGT it is assumed that they are not rational, but present their irrational thinking to others so that they appear rational.
View the short video interview below. This will also give you a clearer understanding of “Harrison’s Applied Game Theory”.
One of the very first things we do in life is play games. Engaging in a wide range of voluntary activities for learning as well as for recreational pleasure and enjoyment is inherent in our makeup. It doesn’t matter where in the world we are, what country we are from, or the culture that defines who we are. To have a need or desire to play is instinctual — in other words, it is something that we need to do. Game theory assumes that the people making the decisions will always understand the problem and the results of their choices.
Most people will make whatever choice gets them the most benefit. Of course, this makes perfect sense. The best players will always choose the best option available once they examine all the differences available to them. For example, if you are playing a team game like basketball or soccer, and you have the responsibility to pick the players for your team you will usually (though not always) pick the most skilled players. One reason you might pick a weaker player is that you want to play with or help your friend. Even if they are not such a good player you may have them play on your team anyway.
Many scientists believe that to play is so much a part of who we are, that if we don’t play we become unhappy and even sick. When we are very little we can play alone, often with toys. One of the first places we learn as little kids is to play is in a low, wide container or shallow depression filled with soft (beach) sand. This is known as a sandbox. In the beginning, we are likely to play by ourselves with various toys. As we become a little older, maybe 4 or 5 years old, we may want to have a pet; maybe a bird, puppy, or kitten to play with.
Playing simple games while getting organized
— Photo by Stuart Wainstock
As we become a little older we are instinctively drawn to playing with other people, especially other children. In time we will play with other children in and outside the sandbox. When any living creature learns to behave properly when playing with others they are said to have good social skills. Social skills are important for survival in many different animal species.
The term knowing how to play in the sandbox is a term often used by adults to describe other adults who are nice to others and not only know the rules but agree to play by the rules. Still, many adult humans don’t know that most of what they do in life requires the very same skills we learned from our parents on how to play in the sandbox properly when we were very little. As we become a little older, between the ages of 7 and 12 we usually begin to play organized games that are a bit more involved than simply making sandcastles in a sandbox. These new and generally simple games are still easy to play. All that is required is minimal rules with minimal equipment.
In time and with the proper guidance game theory and game-based thinking become a part of us.
It is fun to become immersed in gamer thinking
— Photo by Illinois Springfield
In these games, such as Frisbee, or marbles, we learn by example from other children. Here we may even learn what the rules are automatically and instinctively without needing to refer to written rules. Experts sometimes call these types of games traditional games or folk games. These kinds of games have been passed from child to child, generation to generation, informally by word of mouth.
Most children’s games include at least two of the following six features in different proportion:
1. physical skill,
3. chance (luck),
4. repetition of patterns,
6. good balance
All games are similar because they have some of the six features mentioned above. Of course, there are likely to be others such as;
2. referees to prevent cheating and make decisions when there are disagreements among the players;
3. when the game has reached its conclusion;
4. ways to determine who has won the game.
Most games also require an agreed-upon and defined environment where the game will be played. We can call this a Game Space. Examples of Game Spaces would include a chessboard, a Tic-tac-toe graph, or a baseball field. In most games, there are also ways to keep track of the process of the game such as scoring, points, quarters, innings (baseball), periods, etc.
As a child becomes more creative they often develop an interest in puzzles. Simple puzzles are a type of game problem or toy that tests a child’s ingenuity or knowledge. In a puzzle, one is required to put pieces together in a logical way, in order to arrive at the correct solution of the puzzle. There are different types of puzzles for different ages, such as crossword puzzles, number puzzles, or logic puzzles. Crossword puzzles and Scrabble are popular with individuals of all ages.
Games are built on patterns — a particular kind of order. Everything we can experience in life will have patterns. There are many different types of patterns. Some patterns are basic and simple, like a game of Tic-tac-to or checkers. One could explain to a child that when, for example, your parents or guardians go to work or buy food at the store they are expressing patterns.
By going to work they can earn money. They then use that money to buy food, clothes, toys, games, and other important things. When a parent(s) or guardians are not sure of what is best for you or your family they sometimes play a game called Negotiating. In negotiating two or more people have a conversation aimed at reaching an agreement on some course of action or decision.”
Sometimes in order to recognize a pattern, we must use intuition. For instance, a strategy we use to win a game or find solutions to puzzles may require the recognition of subtle patterns that aren’t easy to recognize. For instance, in the form of Jazz music known as Be-Bop many very skilled musicians have a difficult time isolating the patterns that musicians like John Coltrane and Dizzy Gillespie utilized to create unique and pioneering music.
One of the tools that are used to create order and measure and observe certain types of patterns is called graphs. A graph is a diagram showing the relation between variable quantities, typically of two variables. In the first year of school, a small child may be introduced to graphs through the use of graph paper. A checkerboard, tic-tac-toe grid, and even music notation are all types of graphical representations.
I invite you to read, my regular blogs on game theory, and lifehacking and follow my posts and vlogs throughout the social network:
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§ Facebook Group and Forum: “Lewis Harrison’s Applied Game Theory” https://www.facebook.com/groups/602287903244843/
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§ General Podcast: Tips for Success www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lzIPU0DSiU
§ Contact me at LewisCoaches@gmail.com (I promise to respond to you personally).
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