A game is a structured type of interactive play, usually undertaken for fun or amusement, and at times used as an educational tool as well. Games are quite different from homework, which obviously is generally carried out only for remuneration, or from literature, that is more often a reflection of aesthetic or political elements. In the case of educational games, the objective is to learn something, usually by solving problems. Usually, the learning process occurs at the same time as the entertainment, through actions or reactions to the learning environment. Some types of educational games can be categorized as being both educational and entertaining, while others are clearly oriented towards teaching and learning.
The most popular of these is the prisoner’s dilemma, with its long history stretching all the way back to the ancient Greeks. The prisoner’s dilemma was originally formulated as a game in ancient Greece when the two players were blindfolded and were each provided with a wooden block with a single door on it. Each player was given a piece of the block, and was then forced to guess where their partner’s piece of the block was hidden. If they were correct, they received another piece of the block; if they were incorrect, they got to keep their original piece of the block, while their partner received a punishment. The main idea was to make it difficult for the player to simply guess where their partner’s piece of the block was hidden, in an effort to maximize the amount of learning that took place, and reduce the time required for analysis of the situation.
The same basic principle was used in the classic game of prampe, also known as “baby gambling.” A small child would sit in a chair and a block of wood would be placed within a shallow hole in the seat. The child would push the prampe chair back and forth in an attempt to get the block into the hole, but without actually striking it or moving it in any way. As an alternative to this game, the words “prampe” and “baby gambling” were used interchangeably.
Prison and dictator games can be extended to a much larger range of applications. In fact, it has been found that they are indeed closely related and that playing the prisoner and dictator game theory repeatedly creates an illusion of having solved the prisoner’s dilemma. By repeating the same application of the two-step process, the illusion of improvement is maintained, making the process seem more real. Also, when the player knows beforehand that the outcome will be a certain way, they are not as likely to be too impulsive and change what they know. It is this that makes the game of prisoner and dictator games so effective.
In addition to the prisoner and dictator games, there exist also non-cooperative game theories. Most significantly among these are the trichotomy game theory and the grand strategy game theory. The trichotomy game theory states that if a group of people are given a specific task to do, namely to fill a container with a certain amount of water, with the group ever splitting fifty percent of the water and the remaining group refusing to share with the others, then in the end there will be one person who has completely filled the container and is left with no water for the other members of the group. However, if half the group do indeed fill up the container, the person with nothing left is labeled a loser and thus loses the game.
The grand strategy game theory goes even further and states that for every action in the game, there is an opposite reaction. If for example, player A is given the sentence “You hit me”, then player B must respond with “I didn’t hit you”. The latter statement is false and therefore player A will be stuck with a dilemma: how should he respond to this? And this leads into prisoner’s dilemmas, where the player must choose between keeping the prisoner alive or not. However, if the prisoner becomes so ill and weak that his life is at risk, then this can also lead to a prisoner dilemma, where the player must decide between playing it safe and risking death or continuing the game for simply better gains.