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yankeeundercover
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Can someone adequately explain “Zero Sum Game Theory”? (Updated)
I’ve always heard the term and thought that I understood it at a “basic level”, but I learning a bit more, I don’t truly understand it.

An example I found would be:

There’s a single M&M on the table between you and a friend/opponent.

You both decide that splitting the M&M in half isn’t an option... so, one of you will get to eat the M&M.

So one of you will be +M&M and the other -M&M resulting in a “zero sum”, which I SORT OF can understand, but my problem is, the one you who get the M&M, wouldn’t that be a “positive”?

Or is the game theory spectating from another perspective keeping “score”?

I just think that “zero sum” might be inaccurate because for the winner, how wouldn’t it be “+1”?

Some explain in practical application and examples that can be understood, please.
This post was edited on 3/19 at 12:07 pm

LSUconvert
LSU Fan
Hattiesburg, MS
Member since Aug 2007
3682 posts

re: Can someone adequately explain “Zero Sum Game Theory”? (Updated)
quote:

Can someone adequately explain “Zero Sum Game Theory”?

Google will give you a much more comprehensive explanation than TD poliboard.

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41
funnystuff
Member since Nov 2012
6214 posts

re: Can someone adequately explain “Zero Sum Game Theory”? (Updated)
In what context?

Broadly speaking, a zero sum game is where one person’s gains exactly equal another person’s losses.

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130
Tiguar
Auburn Fan
Alabama
Member since Mar 2012
28091 posts

re: Can someone adequately explain “Zero Sum Game Theory”? (Updated)
you heard the saying "robbing peter to pay paul"?

basically that

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30
BlackHelicopterPilot
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Member since Feb 2004
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re: Can someone adequately explain “Zero Sum Game Theory”? (Updated)
Theory?

A Zero-Sum Game is one where there is a set number of "things" for me to get more "things" someone has to have fewer "things"

90proofprofessional
LSU Fan
Member since Mar 2004
24046 posts

re: Can someone adequately explain “Zero Sum Game Theory”? (Updated)
no such thing.

there's such a thing as a zero-sum game though.

yankeeundercover
Army Fan
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Member since Jan 2010
35460 posts

re: Can someone adequately explain “Zero Sum Game Theory”? (Updated)
quote:

there's such a thing as a zero-sum game though.
That’s what I’m thinking/saying!

TheTideMustRoll
Alabama Fan
Birmingham, AL
Member since Dec 2009
4194 posts

re: Can someone adequately explain “Zero Sum Game Theory”? (Updated)
A game, or problem, in which there is a finite amount of resources over which all players compete. Therefore, not everyone can win, and the amount by which the winners win corresponds exactly with the amount by which the losers lose - hence, “zero-sum.”

yankeeundercover
Army Fan
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Member since Jan 2010
35460 posts

re: Can someone adequately explain “Zero Sum Game Theory”? (Updated)
quote:

hence, “zero-sum.”
But from the “winner’s” perspective, there’s a “+1”, correct? Or am I missing something?

BlackHelicopterPilot
LSU Fan
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re: Can someone adequately explain “Zero Sum Game Theory”? (Updated)
quote:

That’s what I’m thinking/saying!

What are you having trouble with? Even your example is simple:

Try it this way. At the beginning EACH own 1/2 of the M&M. They both decide 1/2 is not a big deal..so, they flip a coin and one "win"

Winner is +1/2 (He already OWNED 1/2) and loser is -1/2 = 0
This post was edited on 3/19 at 12:11 pm

yankeeundercover
Army Fan
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Member since Jan 2010
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re: Can someone adequately explain “Zero Sum Game Theory”? (Updated)
quote:

A Zero-Sum Game is one where there is a set number of "things" for me to get more "things" someone has to have fewer "things"
So how could the person “getting more things” not call that a positive outcome?

BlackHelicopterPilot
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49841 posts

re: Can someone adequately explain “Zero Sum Game Theory”? (Updated)
quote:

But from the “winner’s” perspective, there’s a “+1”, correct? Or am I missing something?

Well, each perspective is independent. But, the WHOLE is in balance

yankeeundercover
Army Fan
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Member since Jan 2010
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re: Can someone adequately explain “Zero Sum Game Theory”? (Updated)
quote:

Winner is +1/2 (He already OWNED 1/2) and loser is -1/2 = 0
I really appreciate the effort to explain it simply, but again, wouldn’t the guy who won the coin flip be +1/2?

Maybe I’m having trouble with the language...

TheTideMustRoll
Alabama Fan
Birmingham, AL
Member since Dec 2009
4194 posts

re: Can someone adequately explain “Zero Sum Game Theory”? (Updated)
They would. Zero-sum games have winners and losers. The “theory” part comes in trying to find methods to play such games that either ensure that the player is a “winner,” or that ensure an equal outcome for everyone. Good luck with that last one, by the way.

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10
BlackHelicopterPilot
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re: Can someone adequately explain “Zero Sum Game Theory”? (Updated)
quote:

So how could the person “getting more things” not call that a positive outcome?

You are either being purposely obtuse or not even trying. LOCALLY, there may be a flood. That locality sees "extra" water. But, the water on earth has not changed. Just "moved"

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21
BlackHelicopterPilot
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re: Can someone adequately explain “Zero Sum Game Theory”? (Updated)
quote:

I really appreciate the effort to explain it simply, but again, wouldn’t the guy who won the coin flip be +1/2?

Maybe I’m having trouble with the language...

Player 1 sees +
Player 2 sees -
the GAME sees zero

90proofprofessional
LSU Fan
Member since Mar 2004
24046 posts

re: Can someone adequately explain “Zero Sum Game Theory”? (Updated)
a non-zero sum game would differ in that there's some choice/combo of choices between the players available where one could be better off and the other at worst still be no worse off, or that both players could in fact be better off

zero sum would just mean that they can both/all stay as well off as before, or that one/some can gain, but only at the expense of the other(s)

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yankeeundercover
Army Fan
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Member since Jan 2010
35460 posts

re: Can someone adequately explain “Zero Sum Game Theory”? (Updated)
quote:

But, the WHOLE is in balance
So, whomever/whatever labels a “zero sum game” would be an arbitrary “observer” with no stake in the M&M?

Just someone looking on and proclaiming that “there was one M&M, both ‘owned’ half and one guy won the coin flip, so in terms of the universe rules, there was no ‘net change’...”

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01
Goforit
Member since Apr 2019
2179 posts

re: Can someone adequately explain “Zero Sum Game Theory”? (Updated)
The one that doesn't get the M&M (subject One) will then hate the one (subject two) that gets it. Subject one pulls out a knife and stabs subject two. Subject two has a gun and uses it to shoot and kill subject one. Subject two goes to the hospital but dies. Zero Sum! The above scenario actually happened, but the object in question was the last piece of fried chicken.

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10
90proofprofessional
LSU Fan
Member since Mar 2004
24046 posts

re: Can someone adequately explain “Zero Sum Game Theory”? (Updated)
quote:

the GAME sees zero

good way to put it

the game considers/nets every player

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