The Great Grounding Game Theory Guide: #11 — How Playing Board and Video-Games Can Make You A Master Strategist.

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by jeffdjevdet

Q. Lewis, I play board games, and video-games but I still make crappy choices in my daily life. How can I use game-play to make me a master Applied Game Theory strategist?

A. Before I answer your question it might be helpful if we begin with a short introduction to the basics of game theory. Below is an article (a 6-minute read) as well as a more in-depth video embedded in the article. Both were created so they would be understood by 12-year-old.

The Article:

A. Now to answer your question. As children become more creative at game-play, they often develop a greater interest in simple games and then puzzles. In a puzzle, one is required to put pieces together in a logical way to arrive at the correct solution. Number (logic) puzzles — Crossword puzzles, and Scrabble are among the most popular of the genre.

As a child begins to play more structured and interactive, physically oriented games and puzzles, certain crucial patterns come into play. These patterns include at least two of the following six features.

· Physical skill,

· Strategy,

· Chance,

· Repetition of patterns,

· Creativity,

· A sense of balance.

All games and puzzles are similar because they have some of the six features I have mentioned above.

Other essential features in children’s games (and in most adult life games) may include rules; referees to prevent cheating and make decisions when there are disagreements among the players; ways to determine which players have won the game or solved a puzzle; and when the game has reached its conclusion.

The first type of advanced games a child is likely to play is team games. Usually, these arrive in the form of “sporting” games like Basketball, Baseball, Football, or Soccer.

In both sports and in life games, there are many players interacting among teams or groups with common interests. In the digital world, this type of game, the “social network” has millions of players.

Most games are played on a board or playing field — an agreed-upon and defined environment where the game will be played. This is called a Game Space. Examples of Game Spaces would include a chessboard, a video-game screen, or a baseball field. An example of a game space for people who invest in stocks would be the NY Stock Exchange.

Another critical factor in most games and puzzles is that they usually involve more than one player. When you play chess, the stock market, or the search for a life partner there are always two or more players. In Scrabble or in the adult world of dating there are many players.

Gameplay is built on patterns — a thing or event that is repeatedly predictable. For instance, in the game of checkers, there is a geometric pattern, to the board, the pieces, and how the game is to be played.

In most games, such as basketball, there are patterns for keeping track of the processes taking place, including scoring, points, innings, periods, etc. The most skilled players in any game/puzzle are likely to have the ability to recognize subtle patterns that a less skilled or less experienced player may not have the ability to recognize.

Clearly, everything we can experience in daily life, including and beyond recreational games and puzzles will have a particular order or pattern.

Some patterns are basic and straightforward. For example, one could explain to a child “when 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 essential things.

As children develop more complex thinking abilities they will often become more skilled at recognizing the logic-based patterns of inductive and deductive reasoning. This makes it easier for them to strategize in games and solve puzzles, exceptionally competitive ones. With time children begin to create an intuitive/mental playbook. Here they can look forward, and predict which choices will help them win a game or solve a puzzle.

Ultimately the most successful game-based strategists understand logic, rationality, and intuition. These strategists usually develop effective patterns from engaging in recreational games. Most recreational games have more than one player. When you play chess or ping pong, there are usually two players. In “sporting” games like Football, there may be many players. In the Life Game, we call the “social network” there may be millions of players. In many sporting games, such as soccer or American Football players may be divided into two teams. In some sports, there are more than two teams.

Whether competing in a 2-player game, a team sport, or in the game of life, players must learn the rules, boundaries, and controls of a given game.

Mastering all of this may be very easy or can be highly demanding. For example, the structure and rules of checkers or tic-tac-toe are easy to learn, whereas the structure and rules of chess involve a much higher level of difficulty.

Learning the processes in gamer-thinking, especially for those seeking to succeed and prosper in the Game of Life, requires many different and diverse thinking processes.

Most games, for instance, require a great deal of, skill, and focus from a player, or team and, contrary to the common and widespread perception that games provide instant gratification, games delay gratification far longer than other forms of entertainment.

Often, we do not recognize or even notice these challenges and obstacles because they are, or seem small or seem insignificant. Also when they are more prominent, we may still not know these patterns and as such we are unable to get what we want or need.

This scenario can cause us great unnecessary struggle. Often if small problems are not addressed early they may expand rapidly and become great problems. Like a small insect landing on a pond, the problem ripples outward and expands, creating greater complications.

I call these patterns of seemingly insignificant challenges and obstacles “constraints.” Many game-theorists explore these patterns through what is called the “Theory of Constraint”. Here we explore and isolate small obstacles in systems, that keep these systems from achieving their full potential.

The Takeaway

If you put thirty-minutes a day playing and studying games they will become second nature to you and will improve the quality of your decision-making throughout your day.

I invite you to read, my regular blogs on game theory, and lifehacking and follow my posts and vlogs throughout the social network:

§ YouTube: The “Asklewis Lewis Harrison” channel,

§ Facebook Fan page:

§ Facebook Group and Forum: “Lewis Harrison’s Applied Game Theory”

§ Twitter: @AskLewisH,

§ General Podcast: Tips for Success

§ Contact me at (I promise to respond to you personally).

We offer a customized and personalize Course in Harrison’s and Holistic Applied Game Theory: Become more effective, efficient, productive, innovative, and self-aware.

Study Applied Game Theory A-Z and Beyond…2.2.

Click on this URL link below and explore the course

To follow all of my Great Game Theory Guide postings and stories, check out the full Table of Contents at

About the Author: Lewis Harrison, is a speaker a strategist specializing in Applied Game Theory Strategies and Personal Improvement.

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The next story in this series can be accessed by clicking on the like below. The Great Game Theory Guide: #12 — How I Went From Being a Monk to Becoming Game Theorist

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I offer advice on the arts, innovation, self-improvement, life lessons, mental health, game theory strategies, and love.

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