Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
As you can see, there is no one best choice. You and the defender are
each making a decision whose outcome depends on the decision of the
other; each can win by predicting what the other will do. You don't win
this by having a bigger battering ram, but by figuring out how to trick the
other guy into thinking you'll attack the gate as you prepare your sappers.
This game isn't about walls and arrows anymore. It's about habit, assump-
tion, information, and deception. This is the kind of situation that game
theory helps us understand.
Game theory isn't just about competition either. It covers any interac-
tion among players who must respond to one another's actions. Zero-sum
competitive games where only one player can win are one category of this,
but so are cooperative games, and mixed competitive/cooperative situa-
tions where players' goals partially align. Even attacking a defended castle
isn't quite a zero-sum game, because one side may surrender or sue for
peace.
One classic noncompetitive game theory example involves a pair of
prehistoric hunters, Thag and Blarg. Since they live in separate tribes,
Thag and Blarg cannot communicate when choosing where to go to hunt
that day. Each must choose to go to the hunting ground of stags or the
hunting ground of hares. If both choose to hunt stags, they can cooperate
to take one down and both will eat well. Hares can be caught alone, so
either one who chooses the hare will get a small, guaranteed meal. But
if one chooses a hare while the other tries for the stag, the stag hunter
starves.
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