Thursday, September 29, 2011

Name of The Game

I'm happy to say I'm invigorated and driven to continue with this line of posts about game design and theory, and game playing. What seems most desirable now is to have a website independent, unlike the current situation of using blogspot. The question remains, "what shall the new site be called?"

Unfortunately, are taken. is available, but I'm not sure if I want to use it for this narrow purpose. is available and I think it has a ring to it, as well as being on topic.

I open it to you, Audience. Tell me what you think should go into the name of the new site?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Information Disparity - Using The Edge

Some crave surprise and the nuance of subtle novelty. Some appreciate the real life simulation that lack of knowledge provides. For different reasons a lack of information is desirable in games. As we've talked about recently, unknowns make strategizing more difficult and make more prudent decisions most viable, such as rejecting the British monk's due to fear they would cease making payouts, or pre-emptive nuclear attacks.

So, what is a good long term strategy in this paradigm? Mitigate risk may be a good baseline, but a viable more aggressive strategy might be to place yourself in a position to benefit when another succumbs to revelation. When deciding a play in American football the best choice is a play you do well that has a high payoff in distance. The second best is the one the opponents don't expect, and therefore are vulnerable to. What your opponents know and what they think is powerful information, as it allows you to maximize exploiting the unknown with the least amount of risk. So, a game that allows for not only a lack of information, which any with randomization does, but also the ability to cultivate information disparity offers more viable strategy options.

Now the academic point of view on the last might be that there is only one best option, assuming asymmetric values. However, "in the field" we know information is being gathered in constant, subtle moments. The body language of our competitors across the table can instantly make a change in the calculations.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Options and Moving Parts

When making a statistical study you limit the options of possible answers so as to make comparisons easier. There are different degrees of this, but whether cardinal or ordinal, there certainly isn't a free form of organic options, such is human reality. When we think of games we often think of the moves available as categorizable. In American football the players performances may vary extremely, but the rules definitely limit the options of "moves."

One way of adding move variability is in making the arbitration mechanism binary or cardinal, but this is just a framework that gives shape to the play field, which is free form. Examples are voting and reputation ranking.

One way to simulate human society would be to collect each option, as they are realized, in a relational database, where different options could be ranked under conditions, and still be associated with specific people, times, et cetera.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Information Costs

Many games assume the players know all the rules and have an equally universal assessment of the value of all resources. In the board game Monopoly the only unknown is the outcome of dice rolls. The cost of improvements, rent, property, and number of properties per set, is all known so one might assess the value of each pair. The game of Clue, however is all about research costs, the winner is whoever has the lowest. The shortest route and the best recall of the information, suspects and potential murder weapons and the rooms, is going to win, with a slight deviation based on statistical outliers in the form of consistently high dice rolls.

In life we could benefit from knowing as much as we can. And we can know almost everything about now and extrapolate a lot about tomorrow. We can be aware of interest rates, average wages per industry and region, property values, stock market trends. We can also know a lot about ourselves. Where are we spending our resources? How much are we putting in to each task and how much are we getting out?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Game Theory of Romance: Part 1

Game theory is a way to map decisions with cost-benefit analysis that takes into account all of the "moves" in each set, and the degree of knowledge of the moves made by others. What does this look like if we apply it to the oldest game, the Game of Love? This is the first in a series that will explore different aspects of this.

In the first scenario we will assume this is a relationship between two arbitrarily chosen people, statistically average, and only their moves are of consequence. They are already in a romantic relationship with each other, will it stay that way?

Let's say they each get an amount of utility between 1 - 10 from being with the other, variance determined by many minute decisions by that person, their partner, and circumstantial details. If that person is rejected their utility is zero, if it is mutual rejection utility is two, and if they reject the other without being so in return utility is four. Now, due to inertia, the lover will not reject unless utility falls below four, because the rejection value is four, this assuming simultaneous decision making and transparency of intent.

If the lover's partner is difficult to understand, poor communications, erratic, then rejection becomes inevitable because the payoff of rejecting, four, is greater than that of mutual rejection and longer you wait the more opportunities to be rejected. Another trait that would increase desire to reject is if the partner places a high discount on future utility, that is, they don't place much value in planning for the future. In that case you have a partner that will get more than four utility from rejecting the lover, as they only see the grief avoided now, not the joy forfeit in the future, thus the risk of being rejected is high and will ultimately be avoided by the lover.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Re Reputation

Reputation systems as economic and business models have been spreading in popularity over the past decade or two as the idea has gone the usual route from academia, to science fiction and environmentalists, and then the business community. I've been fascinated with it for some time, going away and coming back, and I feel another attack of love sickness coming on.

Real quick topic warmer, is regarded as having the most successful and earliest contemporary, read Internet age, manifestations via their consumer sales. However, this ranking is limited to what they sell. Google, with search voting, the "+1" option, allows seamless reputation voting of everything networked.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Ideas and Patents

I have two fairly solid ideas that need to be codified and then at least one of them submitted for patent approval. Worst part of all of that, if there is a bad side, is not feeling free to share my enthusiasm completely due to needing to protect my intellectual capital from unscrupulous opportunists. Expressing my excitement means a lot to me, those feelings are largely the positive reinforcement for my creativity.

The one that is most ready for marketing and being patented will be getting its own website soon where the potential fruits can be trumpeted and donations be solicited. I'm going to work the environmentalism angle on this and try to get a decent starting capital without exposing myself to much personal financial risk.