Picture of a game of Go. Picture from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Go-Equipment-Narrow-Black.png

PLEASE NOTE: The following is a very quick sketch for a much deeper and longer piece of writing about game theory and how it relates to a multiplicity of different situations in life.


All the world’s a game and all the people really players.

Life is composed of a series of games.

Fundamentally, there are two types of games in the world.

Of course in reality there is a vast multiplicity of different games but in their essence games can be reducible to two basic mathematical processes.

The first is the process of ‘win-lose’.

In a win-lose game, which is a zero-sum game, one side wins and the other loses.

The win-lose game is fundamentally masculine.

Pushed to its logical conclusion, the win-lose game becomes war and psychopathy.

The other type of game is the win-win game where both sides mutually benefit through the exchange.

The win-win game is fundamentally feminine.

Trade and exchanges in all forms are healthy when they work on the basis of the win-win and unhealthy when they work on the win-lose.

Win-lose games can be fun so long as they regulated and bounded by an overall win-win element. So for example, playing a boardgame with family members can be fun so long as everybody agrees that the overall pleasure of the sharing of the game as a whole dominates the overall battle to reach the win-lose point that is at the centre of the game. Once this overall atmosphere has been created and is in control, then people are free to play win-lose operations as much as they like and the win-lose can become enjoyable. Once the overall win-win atmosphere is lost, however, the win-lose operations are no longer potentially enjoyable because the loser in the game may experience the negative emotions associated with losing.

Our financial and economic systems are healthy when they are composed of win-win operations and unhealthy, tending towards the psychopathic, when they operate on win-lose operations and the ‘winner takes all’ mentality.

The concept of fairtrade may be misused and may be problematic to organise pragmatically but it is based on the concept of putting ‘win-win’ at the centre of the exchanges.

Nuclear weapons have confronted us with the ultimate endpoint of the win-lose game: our total human self-annihilation, our total human suicide. Ultimately, therefore, the logic of win-lose is really lose-lose, and the darkness humanity has had to face since our initial development onwards has been precisely the fact that our increasing ingenuity means we are not only able to make a beautiful world but, if we succumb to the sadistic impulses in the ‘win-lose’ system, destroy ourselves and destroy our beautiful world completely.

Game on! New balls please!