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Playing the game.

Started by Scribbly, September 28, 2011, 09:37:41 AM

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Scribbly

I play a lot of games – probably far more than I should. I know they are a distraction from more productive activities, but I enjoy them. I've been thinking a lot about gaming theory, too. People often talk about life being like a game, and there are certainly some similarities.

Competitive games are about making your opponent feel like they only have one choice. If you control the strategy of your opponent, you've already won.

What varies is the degree to which that works, the skills involved in locking down your opponent, and the amount of randomness in the game. For instance, in a game of monopoly, randomness has a very high effect on the game; if you spend six turns never landing on a property to acquire, there's no amount of skill that can turn that around for you. The skill is in persuasion; it is all out of the game, convincing your opponents to make deals which favour you more than them.

In fighting games, the skill is down to reflexes, knowledge of the system, and technical traps at the high end of play. When everyone buys into the game and is looking to make the optimal choice, you can control your opponent's choices by baiting them into entering the wrong move. Randomness becomes very important because, often, there's a ½ or a 1/3 shot of making a counter to the attack your opponent is going to throw at you. You can mitigate that randomness if you are in your opponents head and know what they are going to try... but you can't do it consistently.

The classic 'game without luck' is chess. Extremely high level chess players operate at a level of strategy which attempts to predict the moves of one another turns and turns in advance, shutting down options on a theoretical level before they even crop up.

In tabletop gaming, what differentiates a good game from a bad game, in my experience, is that the GM works to keep options open and viable. He assists the players in enabling their characters; they have a whole plethora of choices available to them. They may not all work, but they are all feasible, and the whims of luck can make a great plan awful and a terrible plan successful. Tabletop gaming is not competitive – you are collaborating to have a good time.

This is what I think most people think politics should be like;  everyone pulling together, working for a common good. It shocks them that this isn't the case, but it should be painfully obvious by now that this hope simply does not match reality. That is why most people are sick of the major issues of the day; frankly, the game just isn't fun to them. I can sure understand that.

If you look at the rhetoric which surrounds modern politics, you can see that the majority of it comes down to people attempting to convince you that you have no options. There is no alternative. They have an idea, or a course of action, which they are going to pursue, and your only logical choice is to follow them and do what they tell you to do. Politicians think they are playing chess.

But time and time again in the real world, randomness scuppers the best laid plans we have. Chaos, if you like, enters the equation and all the logic of no alternative in the world won't save you when reality smacks you square in the face.

So, in politics, you have a bunch of people trying to explain to you how what you think about the world is wrong; trying to make extremely complicated ideas painfully simple, so that there seems to be only one logical choice – the choice they have prepared for.

If they are going to force us to play by their rules, we have to do it better. Understand their strategy. Know what they are going to do. Leave them no other options than the ones we are ready to counter. Then shut them down. Bear in mind that they manipulate people into believing three key lies in order to hold up the base of their power;

That there was no alternative.

That there is no other option.

That there can be no change.

So you attack those lies. That isn't easy, admittedly, but if we're going to do this, we're going to need to redefine the goals, offer alternatives, demonstrate feasible options and remind people that they are the ones who define the rules they play by.
The game is entering crunch time, we can all feel that. The end is almost on us, and it looks like they've got an insurmountable lead. But it isn't over until it is over.

Play to win, or don't bother showing up.
I had an existential crisis and all I got was this stupid gender.

P3nT4gR4m

politics: The only winning move is not to play

Government doesn't work. It'll never work. There is no workable solution.

If you have a vested interest in watching the whole thing collapse, over and over again, ad infinitum then the game works - it's a spectator sport.

Wanna fix it? Good luck with that  :lulz:

I'm up to my arse in Brexit Numpties, but I want more.  Target-rich environments are the new sexy.
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"computation is a pattern in the spacetime arrangement of particles, and it's not the particles but the pattern that really matters! Matter doesn't matter." -- Max Tegmark

Scribbly

And what collapse are you talking about, exactly? You say government doesn't work, but it has been working for hundreds of years, performing the exact function that vested interests want it to, and when a singular government collapses, it is almost instantly replaced by another one. Which continues to do what the last one did.

There will be no collapse.

Things will just get more authoritarian, less equal, and more tilted in favour of elites; elites which you are not a part of.

Thanks for demonstrating my point, though.
I had an existential crisis and all I got was this stupid gender.

P3nT4gR4m

Quote from: Demolition_Squid on September 28, 2011, 10:56:25 AM
And what collapse are you talking about, exactly? You say government doesn't work, but it has been working for hundreds of years, performing the exact function that vested interests want it to, and when a singular government collapses, it is almost instantly replaced by another one. Which continues to do what the last one did.

There will be no collapse.

Things will just get more authoritarian, less equal, and more tilted in favour of elites; elites which you are not a part of.

Thanks for demonstrating my point, though.

compared to when, exactly? or even where.

my definition of 'doesn't work' is based on the pretence that government should be for the people, by the people ... yadda yadda

if you mean work in the true sense, ie holding power over the population and furthering the objectives of a few dons then, yeah, it works fine. That's all it's ever going to do, tho. The only way to change any aspect is to become one of the dons, then there's one less prole being shafted. You will not, however, be able to change the structure, merely become part of the overclass. Try to rock the boat from within? They'll kill you.

You can destroy the government, by violent uprising. This has absolutely no long term effect whatsoever but, short term, it gets a lot nastier than it already was as the new kings and queens try to grab a slice of the newly liberated pie.

Like you say, it's a game, play it anyway you like (or don't) what you'll never do is change the rules. Human greed and lust for power reign absolute.

I'm up to my arse in Brexit Numpties, but I want more.  Target-rich environments are the new sexy.
Not actually a meat product.
Ass-Kicking & Foot-Stomping Ancient Master of SHIT FUCK FUCK FUCK
Awful and Bent Behemothic Results of Last Night's Painful Squat.
High Altitude Haggis-Filled Sex Bucket From Beyond Time and Space.
Internet Monkey Person of Filthy and Immoral Pygmy-Porn Wart Contagion
Octomom Auxillary Heat Exchanger Repairman
walking the fine line line between genius and batshit fucking crazy

"computation is a pattern in the spacetime arrangement of particles, and it's not the particles but the pattern that really matters! Matter doesn't matter." -- Max Tegmark

Triple Zero

Just FYI, there's a big difference between "Game Theory" and "Theory of Gameplay/Game Design/Gaming Theory" (or something).

The former is about politics and economics, the latter is about computer games, board games, card games, etc.

The overlap is quite minimal and your essay is kind of conflating the two.

The difference is, you might invite over your friends for an afternoon of Chess or Poker, but you're not going to invite them over for an afternoon of Prisoner's Dilemma :)

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e-prime disclaimer: let it seem fairly unclear I understand the apparent subjectivity of the above statements. maybe.

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Scribbly

Yes.

That was deliberate.

Never mind.
I had an existential crisis and all I got was this stupid gender.

Placid Dingo

It's applying Game Theory to actual games to draw a parallel. I actually think it works, but I'm not familiar with game theory or game design theory.
Haven't paid rent since 2014 with ONE WEIRD TRICK.

Scribbly

Game Theory is not actually relevant in the context of the thread. Game Theory is a predictive theory designed to try and describe the outcome of decisions based on the notion that people will maximize their gains if they understand the rules that govern the situation.

This was about trying to use *game design theory* in a more useful context to describe systems of control and power more generally.

Apparently it either didn't work, or people just think I'm wrong.
I had an existential crisis and all I got was this stupid gender.

Reeducation

Omg... We are humans and we can't get out.

That is the rule number one...
...and there are no other rules. Most people just think there are.

And that sucks because I'm not a team-player.
I am very calm

Cramulus

This brings to mind some great Daily Show interviews from the last week.

The first is Jennifer Granholm, former governor of Michigan
http://www.thedailyshow.com/extended-interviews/397799/playlist_tds_extended_jennifer_granholm/397761

The second is with Ron Paul
http://www.thedailyshow.com/extended-interviews/397964/playlist_tds_extended_ron_paul/397934

They come from totally opposite sides of the "team game" idea.

Jennifer Granholm's overarching point is that states (or at least Governors) compete with each other for jobs. And this ultimately means we will always lose jobs to China, who can undercut us in numerous ways. She thinks that we need to get a national jobs plan in which we work together to move industry back to America.

Ron Paul comes from the other side -- he thinks that a competitive market is a healthy market. Competition brings out the best in us. And he thinks that states should function like markets in some sense; they should be completely self-regulating, and if you don't like the policies of the state you're in, you can move. (as opposed to the scenario where policies are set by the federal government and there is no "pro-life" zone, for example)

I can see some game elements in both arguments. They both frame "the competition" in entirely different ways.

Prelate Diogenes Shandor

Quote from: Demolition_Squid on September 28, 2011, 10:56:25 AM
And what collapse are you talking about, exactly? You say government doesn't work, but it has been working for hundreds of years, performing the exact function that vested interests want it to, and when a singular government collapses, it is almost instantly replaced by another one. Which continues to do what the last one did.

Indeed, its like fighting the hydra.
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVWd7nPjJH8


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