Games People Play: Game Theory in Life, Business, and Beyond

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Title completely appropriate for content I am currently watching this video. It is enthralling! Some of it stretches my ability to comprehend - - but it is exciting to learn this material.
Date published: 2020-06-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding Course Those who have studied Game Theory will appreciate this course. To benefit from it the student must learn the key concepts and make a serious effort to understand how Professor Stevens applies them. Those who go beyond and apply them to their own situation will profit the most. Conversely, those unwilling to make an intellectual investment will probably find the course boring and useless.
Date published: 2019-12-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Useful for making lots of decisions I was pleasantly surprised watching the first 12 episodes. I'm looking forward to the next 12. Prof. Stevens gives lots of real world examples to show how game theory can be used in everyone's life.
Date published: 2019-08-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Game theory encapsulated Fast moving, powerful insights! I plan to review many times..
Date published: 2018-12-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Well then, let's play! When I bought this course, I expected an investigation into the workings, strategies, etcetera, of popular board games such as: chess, backgammon, and that game called 'Go' (which has always intrigued me, though I have never played) ... Well, the course was not quite like that. Instead, I learned about how the more mundane things like business and politics work (or do not work in the latter case). From that, however, I do get a better sense of why people do as they do, and how they might justify to themselves the actions they take. That, of particular relevance to the world of politics where the focus seems to be to take actions that are helpful to a set of your favoured cronies and hurtful to as many others as possible. Unfortunately, It appears that your own wishes in any political scenario are completely irrelevant unless you have been granted a seat at the gaming table.
Date published: 2018-07-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating I have been really fascinated by the course thus far. The instructor is interesting to listen to and the information I am getting from it is making me think deeper into the subject. It is more than I expected at this point.
Date published: 2018-07-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from get the DVD i bought the audio cd which comes along with a book - the auio refers to tables etc that are probably on the DVD but not in the book - a waste of money
Date published: 2018-04-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Compelling on multiple levels What an interesting course. Dr. Stevens has a gift for making complex ideas understandable. A natural speaker with a fine sense of humor he exudes intelligence while using everyday incidents to explain his subject. Finding game theory underlying almost every aspect of human interaction is a behavioral analog to finding quantum physics underlying physical reality. A revelation. The information is still percolating in my mind. Academic excellence aside,the course is worth buying just for the entertainment value. Dr. Stevens is by far the best academic lecturer I have ever seen. He could easily do live theater I would normally not comment on this aspect of a course as it would usually be irrelevant; but in this case it is just compelling. He appears to be talking off the cuff about a movie he has just seen and really enjoyed when he is actually discussing highly complex human behavior with a mathematical backbone. Take your pick, buy this for the intellectual and/or entertainment value. Either way this course is a winner. Definitely take in a video format.
Date published: 2018-02-03
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Games People Play: Game Theory in Life, Business, and Beyond
Course Trailer
The World of Game Theory
1: The World of Game Theory

"Games" apply to all aspects of life. You're introduced to the subject with a perplexing dilemma, a brief history of the field, and some of its applications, and the three fundamental components of any game: players, strategies, and payoffs.

33 min
The Nature of the Game
2: The Nature of the Game

You gain a deeper insight into the essential building blocks of players, strategies, and payoffs-most of them more complex and subtle than they might appear-along with two new concepts, rationality and common sense.

30 min
The Real Life Chessboard-Sequential Games
3: The Real Life Chessboard-Sequential Games

In seeking the optimal strategies for games in which players take turns and where the full history of the game is known to all, you learn how to construct a "game tree" and are introduced to one of game theory's key concepts: the Nash equilibrium.

31 min
Life's Little Games-The 2 x 2 Classic Games
4: Life's Little Games-The 2 x 2 Classic Games

You examine four classic two-player games, with each player considering his or her own two choices. Simple though they may be, these games appear at the heart of larger, more complicated games and provide important insights into dealing effectively with others.

31 min
Guessing Right-Simultaneous Move Games
5: Guessing Right-Simultaneous Move Games

You learn a general way of representing simultaneous-move games-where players make decisions without knowing those of others-and acquire valuable tools to solve them. Military and business examples are used to introduce the minimax approach, the iterated elimination of dominated strategies, and the best response method.

30 min
Practical Applications of Game Theory
6: Practical Applications of Game Theory

Applying what you've learned, you see how a stock bid of $98 can beat one of $102; how insisting you lose a competition can be a winning strategy; and why being blackmailed can be in your best interest....

31 min
A Random Walk-Dealing with Chance Events
7: A Random Walk-Dealing with Chance Events

Many games include aspects that depend on random chance. Probability theory addresses such uncertainties. Using a simultaneous, two-player game, Professor Stevens shows you how to use probability to define the expected (or average) value of a payoff in an uncertain situation.

31 min
Pure Competition-Constant-Sum Games
8: Pure Competition-Constant-Sum Games

Can you escape the second-guessing that arises when each player in a two-person game tries to anticipate the other's choice? You learn how every such game, no matter how apparently hopeless, has at least one Nash equilibrium point.

31 min
Mixed Strategies and Nonzero-Sum Games
9: Mixed Strategies and Nonzero-Sum Games

How should we think about mixed strategies? What makes a given strategy "best"? Is there an easy way to determine if a set of strategies is optimal? You explore these questions from a more intuitive perspective and learn how to use the techniques of Lecture 8 in nonzero-sum games.

30 min
Threats, Promises, and Commitments
10: Threats, Promises, and Commitments

Can you gain an advantage by moving before, the game begins? Such actions, called "strategic moves," can be both effective and dangerous. You learn the three categories of strategic moves-commitments, threats, and promises-and the essential requirement for their success: credibility....

30 min
Credibility, Deterrence, and Compellence
11: Credibility, Deterrence, and Compellence

This lecture explains how a player best gains credibility for a threat, promise, or commitment and also explores how these strategic moves are most commonly and advantageously used for deterrence (meant to maintain the status quo) and compellence (meant to change it)....

31 min
Incomplete and Imperfect Information
12: Incomplete and Imperfect Information

What if some events or decisions are known to only one player? This lecture explores such games of asymmetric information and introduces you to a clever means of analyzing such a game.

30 min
Whom Can You Trust?-Signaling and Screening
13: Whom Can You Trust?-Signaling and Screening

This lecture uses examples from mythology, the animal world, movies, card games, and real life to show you how players in a game of asymmetric information try to convey information, elicit it, or guard it.

31 min
Encouraging Productivity-Incentive Schemes
14: Encouraging Productivity-Incentive Schemes

How do you get others to do what you want them to do, whether in business, politics, international relations, or daily life? You learn how players create an alignment between the behavior they desire and the rewards other players receive and examine what can be done when the behavior being addressed is not directly observable.

31 min
The Persistence of Memory-Repeated Games
15: The Persistence of Memory-Repeated Games

Although the games so far have been simplified examples assuming no previous or subsequent interactions, real-life games generally don't work that way. This lecture uses an iterated game of Prisoner's Dilemma to examine the impact of repeated interactions on determining optimal strategy....

30 min
Does This Stuff Really Work?
16: Does This Stuff Really Work?

Can game theory accurately model real-world behavior? You examine some reasons that its track record for predicting behavior in some designed experiments and some observed behavior has been mixed.

31 min
The Tragedy of the Commons
17: The Tragedy of the Commons

You explore what is essentially a many-player version of Prisoner's Dilemma. Each player's self-interested choices ironically contribute to a social dilemma in which every player suffers, in a scenario equally applicable to topics as diverse as global warming, traffic congestion, and the use of almost any nonrenewable resource....

30 min
Games in Motion-Evolutionary Game Theory
18: Games in Motion-Evolutionary Game Theory

Classical game theory relies heavily on the assumption of rationality. This lecture examines an evolutionary perspective, in which successful strategies are "selected for" and propagate through time.

31 min
Game Theory and Economics-Oligopolies
19: Game Theory and Economics-Oligopolies

You explore how game theory is used in economics-a discipline in which five Nobel Prize winners have been game theorists-by seeing how a monopolist determines optimum production levels and how other competitors affect the situation.

30 min
Voting-Determining the Will of the People
20: Voting-Determining the Will of the People

Can game theory evaluate voting systems? You apply what you've learned to several approaches and encounter a theory that no system ranking the candidates can avoid serious problems before you move on to two alternatives that might.

31 min
Auctions and the Winner's Curse
21: Auctions and the Winner's Curse

Auctions play a significant role in our lives, affecting the ownership of radio frequencies, the flow of goods over the Internet, and even the results produced by search engines. This lecture discusses some important categories of auctions and examines which is best for buyer and seller.

31 min
Bargaining and Cooperative Games
22: Bargaining and Cooperative Games

Cooperative games are ones in which players may join in binding agreements. But how do you identify a division of the payoffs that is reasonable and fair? And what mechanisms persuade members of a coalition to accept their allotment?

30 min
Game Theory and Business-Co-opetition
23: Game Theory and Business-Co-opetition

In the first of two lectures on Brandenberger's and Nalebuff's practical application of game theory to business decision making, you learn how to construct an analytic schematic of key relationships and discuss the impact of both players and the concept of added value.

31 min
All the World's a Game
24: All the World's a Game

You complete your introduction to co-opetition by adding the concept of rules, tactics, and scope to the plays and added value before examining the materials in a broader context, particularly the relevance of game theory to our daily lives.

31 min
Scott P. Stevens

If you keep your eyes and mind open, you're going to find a lot of other places that our ideas apply.


The Pennsylvania State University


James Madison University

About Scott P. Stevens

Dr. Scott P. Stevens is Professor of Computer Information Systems and Management Science at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where he has taught since 1984. Professor Stevens holds a Ph.D. in Mathematics from The Pennsylvania State University, where he received B.S. degrees in both Mathematics and Physics and graduated first in his class in the College of Science. Honored many times over for his remarkable abilities in the classroom, Professor Stevens has been a recipient of the Carl Harter Award, his university's highest teaching award; been named the outstanding graduate teacher in JMU's M.B.A. program; and has on five occasions been selected by students as the outstanding teacher in JMU's undergraduate business program, the first teacher to be so honored. A frequent consultant in the business arena, Professor Stevens has been published in a broad variety of academic and professional journals, writing or collaborating on subjects as varied as neural network prediction of survival in blunt-injured trauma patients; the effect of private school competition on public schools; standards of ethical computer usage in different countries; automatic data collection in business; and optimization of the purchase, transportation, and deliverability of natural gas from the Gulf of Mexico.

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