How to use Applied Game Theory to Solve Problems Effortlessly
To begin, this is a story about Harrison’s Applied Game Theory (HAGT). HAGT is a system of strategic thinking that offers a person or organization the ability to be more effective, efficient, precise, and productive. 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 how did the development of HAGT 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.
Please note, this is not complex stuff. I am not a mathematician, an academic, or 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.
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!
I’m the author: I am a game theorist and a teacher on peak performance. I am also a results-oriented self-improvement coach offering advice for innovators of all levels.
I am always exploring trends, innovations, areas of interest, and solutions to build new stories upon. Again, if you have any ideas you would like me to write about just email me at LewisCoaches@gmail.com
About My Blogs
Most of my blogs are anchored into the concept of Applied Game Theory. This idea explores how and why people make certain choices, including decisions related to their health, well-being, personal success, and self-awareness.
For an introduction to applied game theory read this vlog (9-minute read and 15-minute video) at…