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Game Theory and Rock, Paper, Scissors

This article focuses an interesting activity (sports? gambling?) that everyone is familiar with — the game rock-paper-scissors. It provides and focuses a research experiment done in an University in China; the university’s scholars attempt to analyze the strategic theories behind the game and debate upon the argument that whether there exists a strategy to guarantee victory. I consider the analysis an interesting mix between game strategies and psychology to a problem that seems to have direct linkage with game theory.

The article summarizes the two hidden psychological behaviors observed from the research: winning strategies tend to be repeated while losing strategies are most likely to be changed; using such psychological responses, the researchers summarize the two strategies: counter tactic and mirroring. The researcher conclude that employing the two strategies will guarantee an overall winning status after sufficient repetitions of game plays. The argument itself is indeed rooted in the psychology of victory but employs the strategical aspect of mathematic applications.

This problem roots back to the basic game theories — whether a dominant strategy exists for a player. Linking it to the basic Nash Equilibrium and game theories, I will attempt to analyze and chart the payoff and choices into the following chart. Each player with three possible choices would gain the constant payoff for winning and losing, making rational choices to ensure the largest possible payoff. It does not take long for me to realize that a dominant strategy does not exist. As shown in the chart, an equilibrium does exist but does not guarantee victory. Although the article does not provide a satisfying solution and lacks some key details of the research, it nonetheless provides an interesting example of how game theory is closely related to everyday life. We discussed game theory several weeks ago, but I do believe the topic is captivating enough to share.




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