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

Course No. 1426
Professor Scott P. Stevens, Ph.D.
James Madison University
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Course No. 1426
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Course Overview

Ever since modern game theory—the scientific study of interactive, rational decision making—achieved prominence in the mid-20th century, it has proven instrumental in helping us understand how and why we make decisions. Game theory plays a crucial role in our lives and provides startling insights into all endeavors in which humans cooperate or compete, including biology, computer science, politics, agriculture, and, most importantly, economics.

For example, game theory

  • has become an invaluable tool for economists, underpinning the theories of five Nobel Prize winners in economics;
  • helps corporate decision makers through the alternatives of complex negotiations where thousands of jobs and billions of dollars may be at stake;
  • plays a crucial role in international diplomacy and military strategy, influencing the fates of nations even when that influence may well be invisible to the uninitiated; and
  • provides insights into the origins of human behaviors, not only for psychologists seeking to understand why we act as we do, but also for evolutionary biologists asking how those patterns of actions—as human strategies—were handed down.

You can even see game theory at work in the interactions you engage in every day, such as an obvious "game," like buying a car, or a less obvious one, like trying to decide where to go on a Saturday night or how you ought to dress.

A basic working knowledge of this profoundly important tool can help us cut through an often confusing clutter of information—allowing us to make better decisions in our own lives or better understand the decisions facing other players in games. In Games People Play: Game Theory in Life, Business, and Beyond, award-winning Professor Scott P. Stevens of James Madison University has designed a course meant for anyone looking to gain that knowledge. In 24 insightful lectures, he presents you with the fundamentals of game theory in a manner that is both engaging and easy to understand.

Learn the Basic Games on which More Complex Interactions Are Built

Any game can be described as an interaction involving two or more players who share a common knowledge about the game's structure and make rational decisions about the strategies that will best achieve the maximum possible payoff.

But along the pathways that lead from that basic description to the far more complex games that can be built from it—from billion-dollar negotiations to nuclear confrontations—you find a fascinating collection of questions. Are decisions being made simultaneously, with players not knowing what others are doing? Or are they made sequentially, with each player's decision following another's? Are binding agreements between players possible? Is the element of chance involved? Do all players have the same information? As these questions are answered, games can take different forms, and planning a strategy requires basic analytical tools.

Professor Stevens introduces you to those tools by exploring several classic games, each involving two players who can make one of two choices. Translating them into everyday examples, Professor Stevens shows how these games occur everywhere, from casual life to business to international diplomacy:

  • Chicken, derived from the game in which two drivers race toward each other to see who will swerve first. This game is one in which neither player wants to yield to the other—even when a "collision" is the worst possible outcome. In science fields such as biology, this game is known as the Hawk-Dove game.
  • Stag Hunt, also know as the assurance game. This game involves making a choice between individual safety and risky cooperation. The idea behind this game—involving two hunters who must decide whether to hunt a hare alone or a stag together—was developed by the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
  • Prisoner's Dilemma, a famous situation and perhaps the most important in all of game theory. This game involves two prisoners being separately interrogated for their common crime. Each must decide whether to confess or remain silent, knowing his partner has the same choice.

If neither confesses, they each get a one-year sentence. If both confess, each gets three years. And if only one confesses, he goes free, but sends his partner away for five years.

This perplexing game, in which logic points to a strategy for each prisoner that is clearly best, yet nevertheless provides a worse outcome, surfaces repeatedly in the course, as it does in real life.

But as these lectures make clear, that isn't unusual. For the ideas that underlie game theory are everywhere, their practical applications appearing repeatedly:

  • You see game theory at work in business, explaining the moves in the billion-dollar chess game between Boeing and Airbus over control of the market for medium-sized, medium-range jets.
  • And you see it used in war, exploring the choices that faced U.S. and Japanese commanders as each side decided how best to deploy its weapons: the waiting force of U.S. bombers and the Japanese convoy that knew it was the bombers' target.

Meet Game Theory's Most Important Minds

Just as these lectures introduce you to game theory's most important ideas, they also introduce you to many of its most important minds:

  • John von Neumann, whose 1944 book Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, written with Oscar Morgenstern, made him arguably the founding father of modern game theory
  • John Nash, whose story was told in the film A Beautiful Mind and whose achievements have helped make him one of the best-known game theorists
  • Kenneth Arrow, whose famous "impossibility theory" proved that designing a fundamentally unflawed voting system is essentially impossible
  • Barry Nalebuff and Adam Brandenberger, whose 1996 book on Co-Opetition offered modern business an innovative rethinking of the competitiveness.

Focus on Game Theory's Basic Ideas

While game theory is rooted in mathematics, this course requires nothing more than a basic understanding of how numbers operate and interact. Each lecture in Games People Play features visually rich graphics that help you grasp the simple mathematical ideas underlying this fascinating field of study. Despite the apparent complexity of game theory, Professor Stevens always makes the subject matter accessible and easy to understand.

Taught with relish and wit by a teacher as amiable and easy to understand as he is knowledgeable, Games People Play instills a new awareness of the games hidden at the core of the most complex arenas of corporate negotiations and foreign policy, as well as the most basic encounters of our daily lives.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    The World of Game Theory
    “Games” apply to all aspects of life; almost any structured interplay among people constitutes a game. 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 4
    Life’s Little Games—The 2x2 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 6
    Practical Applications of Game Theory
    Applying what you’ve learned to a new set of problems, you encounter surprising results. 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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). x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 15
    The Persistence of Memory—Repeated Games
    Although the games to this point 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. x
  • 16
    Does This Stuff Really Work?
    Can game theory accurately model real-world behavior? You examine some of the reasons its track record for predicting behavior in a number of situations—some designed experiments and some observed behavior—has been mixed. x
  • 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. x
  • 18
    Games in Motion—Evolutionary Game Theory
    Classical game theory relies heavily on the assumption of rationality. This lecture examines a different approach that replaces the assumption of rationality with an evolutionary perspective, in which successful strategies are “selected for” and propagate through time. x
  • 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 the appearance of one or more competitors affects the situation. x
  • 20
    Voting—Determining the Will of the People
    Can game theory evaluate voting systems? You apply what you’ve learned to several different approaches and encounter a theory that no system ranking the candidates can avoid serious problems before you move on to two alternatives that might. x
  • 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. x
  • 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? x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x

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  • 24 lectures on 4 DVDs
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Course Guidebook Details:
  • 124-page printed course guidebook
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Your professor

Scott P. Stevens

About Your Professor

Scott P. Stevens, Ph.D.
James Madison University
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...
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Games People Play: Game Theory in Life, Business, and Beyond is rated 4.4 out of 5 by 95.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very good intro to game theory! Great overview of game theory. It's pretty easy to grasp the basics on what game theory aims to do and how game theorists think about problems.
Date published: 2017-08-13
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Frustrating! Don't Buy the Sound Track I purchased the sound track, thinking it is like the other courses where I can listen to them while driving to and from work. I stopped listening to it. It just drove me crazy. For this one, you need the video because there is a lot of math and charts. Without them, you will very likely be unable to follow what the material. Terrible rating is for the sound track. I cannot judge if the DVD is more helpful.
Date published: 2017-05-07
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Pre-requisite Knowledge Require My first really disappointing experience after 100% in all other purchases. It's the content, not the presenter (I'm a fan)... the content requires a level of pre-requisite knowledge that will allow real value to come through. This should not be sold without a 'caveat' to the potential purchasers.
Date published: 2017-04-22
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disapointing Hard to follow in audio-only, hard to watch in video. Instructor is clearly reading cue-cards, but acting like he's speaking "off the cuff", but often mis-reads or mis-speaks. That, combined with explanations that seem overly-complicated or just too drawn-out, and you end-up with a course that was disappointing overall. First and only TGC lecture I just couldn't finish..
Date published: 2017-04-22
Rated 1 out of 5 by from lectures 1&2 so far an unbelievable waste of money and time and money
Date published: 2016-12-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Games People Play - Strong Course The course was very good. The professor was excellent, very clear and he explained the concepts well. The material in the course was also very good although I would have liked more detail in some areas or more advanced concepts explored. Overall the class was great. My only criticism is that I was disappointed with the written notes for each class. The notes were somewhat cursory and did not cover all the material that the professor discussed.
Date published: 2016-11-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from This course is very interesting but I'm only listening lecture 5 now and I like the course but it's not quite simple one, and in my opinion guidebook for this kind of courses must include visual materials such as matrices, decision trees, graphs, formulas, etc. You shouldn't sell audio version of this course without proper visual support. How are we supposed to listen a lecture without seeing matrices Professor is talking about? I think even video format of lectures has to have better visual materials. It's very disappointing and it's very simple to fix this problem and make the course one of the best in TGC.
Date published: 2015-12-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from New to Game Theory? Consider Audio Version! [Video]. I'm new to game theory and never took a business course during undergrad, so this was a refreshing subject for me. However, being a science major in both high school and college I took quite a bit of math courses and this is my take on this course- it's not that difficult math-wise to solve the problems given during Professor's presentations BUT I did have difficulty bridging the subject taught to real life applications. It's quite a jump from those introduction game theory examples to real life applications for me at first. But somewhere in the midst of this brilliant lecturer's presentations I decided to concentrate on what he was saying instead of how to solve those equations and then a light bulb came on. So for me the audio version of this course may have been the better format because it would've filtered out the noise. I got it and this subject after figuring that out.
Date published: 2015-12-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Aids Decision Making Game theory is based on sophisticated mathematics, but this course enables one to obtain a "common-sense" approach to decision making by understanding simultaneous games, sequential games, legitimate threats, competition, cooperation, and signals to maximize outcome. Dr. Stevens illuminates his subject with examples of nations at war, competitive business moves, voting strategy, bargaining, and others. I purchased the audio course, so I was not able to follow the matrices and tree-diagrams that illustrated examples. However, the text was sufficiently clear to understand these examples without the visuals. Dr. Stevens spoke several times of the application of integral calculus to solve some of the games. I would have enjoyed having an example or two of the integrals used in solution. I don't think those examples would make the course arcane. This is a course taught in business schools with wide-spread applications. The concluding lesson was special. Dr. Stevens shows that human behavior does not always follow game theory as humans want to be cooperative and collaborative. Success comes from being nice, capable of provocation with appropriate retribution, straightforward so that others know where you stand, and finally, forgiving. This particular course is an excellent introduction for the laymen to aid daily decision making through natural human behavior and application of game theory.
Date published: 2015-10-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Reallly a very good course The professor is excellent and keeps the course interesting. There is lots to say about game theory since the field has advanced a lot since the early days of Van Neumann and Morgenstern. I recommend it highly. My only comment would be that some of the material towards the end of the course, while interesting, doesn't seem to have much to do with game theory per se. But this is one of the better courses in the TGC catalog. You will enjoy it and learn from it -- what more can you ask?
Date published: 2015-09-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Captivating Coutse At the outset, I didn't think that I would be interested in game theory, but when watching this course, my interest was piqued and I looked forward to every lecture. The professor's presentation style is excellent and he even used different voices and portrayal of various characters to bring important points to the forefront. This course requires active thinking and participation; it's not just for entertainment. The professor encourages independent investigation of topics that are of interest to the participants. At the time I was studying this course, John Nash, an important researcher in the field, was killed in an auto accident. Some of his theories were mentioned in the media with the announcement of his death. The professor explained Nash's major theories very well and provided good examples of their uses.
Date published: 2015-06-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding Presentation Professor Stevens presents this complex subject matter in a way that makes it easy to grasp and understand. Combined with an excellent presentation style and material, makes this one of the most enjoyable courses I have taken. The concepts he presents, although complex in nature, are combined with real world examples that enabled me to identify potential uses of Game Theory to assist me in my professional work.
Date published: 2015-04-17
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Don't get the Audio version! Every lecture refers to a whiteboard or slide that we can't see! Common example: "Ignore the figures in red, we'll get to them later. Clearly Row Two is better than Row Three, so we'll circle Row Two and look at the Columns. You can see the same pattern forming there, so this is obviously a Symmetrical game." This sort of statement occurs at least twice in every lecture! I'm sure it would be a great course if I had some idea of why he was making the choices he's talking about. How can you apply lessons to real life if you only know half the secrets? I always buy the CDs because I listen in my car while commuting, and this is the only course so far that hasn't been at least acceptable. Most are just fine with audio-only. NOT THIS ONE!
Date published: 2015-03-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good but difficult to follow A good introduction to an important topic but with some drawbacks. The course relies heavily on examples of game theory applications. While the cases are relatively straightforward, they are fairly detailed and require some analysis and "playing around" to fully understand. This "playing around" would be aided by having the various matrices, decision trees, etc., actually illustrated in the accompanying course handbook. I suppose these are available in the course transcript but sure would be handy to have in the handbook., which is rather thin on detail. Constantly stopping the DVD and searching back for the sample illustration is distracting. Come to think of it, the course handbook is subpar and requires a lot more work to be really useful.
Date published: 2015-02-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from difficult for your average Joe, this course isnt easy. the maths isnt childs play and its get complicated quick. Do not get the audio only version. i did enjoy this course a lot but it took a fair bit of work and a lot of time. for those good with numbers they may not have too much difficultly but i think the average adult who hasnt done much maths since school will have similar troubles, that said there is a lot to learn from this course if you put the effort in. afterwards you can see different games being played everywhere you go. i would have liked a lot more visuals to help explain different things. an updated version of this course would be a good thing
Date published: 2015-02-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Complicated yet simple The professor said this is only a survey course. Geez! I'm glad i did not take a course like this in college. i may not have graduated. If a person likes math, this is the right course! But even though it is a complicated course with a plethora of numbers, the essence of game theory is quite simple. The professor does a good job of explaining how a game like tic-tac-toe is essentially the same game as chess. Also, i have begun to notice "the prisoner's dilemma" the more i look around at the world. Finally, his explanation of threats and promises is worth every penny spent on this course especially if one has children.
Date published: 2015-01-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not for CD/Audio I am currently listening to Lecture 14. I love everything about the course but it is extremely difficult with the audio only version. Graphics are referred to that are not even in the course booklet. Not one to sit and watch TV so I guess I'll just have to get what I can out of it. Frustrating.
Date published: 2014-07-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fun Introduction to Game Theory This 24 lecture course provides a broad introduction to the study and application of game theory. Professor Stevens offers a nice overview to a variety of different game scenarios, each of which could be the subject of its own course. There is some math, including some basic calculus, but one need not be familiar with the math to understand the concepts illustrated. Throughout the lectures Professor Stevens emphasizes the importance of modeling challenging decisions. Through this modeling process the “kind” of game one is playing (and thus the optimal approach to the best outcome possible) becomes clear. Professor Stevens proceeds through the material in a progressive fashion, introducing basic concepts and simple game structures first, moving on to more complex situations in the middle lectures, and ending with practical applications in economics, voting, auctions, and business to close the course. His presentation style is clear, and he keeps the learner interested throughout. This course is a great addition to several other Teaching Company courses on decision making, particularly Professor Bartlett’s "Thinking Like an Economist", Professor Roberto’s "Art of Critical Decision Making", and Professor Page’s "Understanding Complexity". I highly recommend this course for a better understanding of one more method to conceptualize and solve problems and make decisions.
Date published: 2014-03-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not for the faint of heart. Have a care. Game Theory is a mathematically and logically rigorous technique of analysis that uses advanced calculus, linear algebra, symbolic logic, probability and statistics to model near-intractable, indiscreet and intangible problems. Quantum mechanics and string theory are child's play compared to this course. Plan on spending months to years surveying and wading into the depths of this study.
Date published: 2013-11-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from outstanding! Great course! I've read quite a bit on game theory and even had some college coursework on the subject during my MBA program. This is an excellent overview and I recommend it to anyone interested in the subject.
Date published: 2013-06-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very enjoyable I enjoyed this course so much. It was fun, entertaining, and above all else very, very informative. I bought it to initially help with forming strategies for my business and have been able to apply some of the information that was presented, and make it work for me. The courses are fast paced, but lets not forget the medium it's being delivered on and the cost of bandwidth, besides you can watch them over and over with a download option. Great work Professor, I'm more the wiser because of you, thank you very much.
Date published: 2013-05-29
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Sorry to say this did not work for me. Perhaps I needed an intro course instead but I found the Prof. moved over ideas too quickly for me. It reminded me of some college courses where I struggled a bit too hard to stay on pace, not what I have come to appreciate from TGC. I am glad to see other positive reviews but this was not for me.
Date published: 2013-03-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Insightful, useful and fun Professor Stevens is very lively and enthusiastic about his subject and he makes learning easy and fun. The course is well laid out and is filled with strategies to solve problems that are both interesting and has practical applications in real life.
Date published: 2013-02-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A minute to learn, a lifetime to master Stevens does an excellent job in providing a thorough introduction to this difficult field. Game theory has historically been taught at the combination of probability and graphs, which tends to require both a visual focus and a deep understanding of proofs. Stevens' presentation simplifies this process by using well prepared and thorough explanatory statements of a given topic combined with at least two examples to highlight the relevant new material. The selection of topics is quite broad but perhaps too shallow, in common with the publisher's other mathematics courses though not as problematic as the other science courses. Some topics covered are forms, characteristics, simple games, mixed models, optimized bidding, EGT and signalling, and basic stochastic outcomes. Missing were some of the more useful modern extensions such as AGT, spacial games, and pursuit games, though these tend to be far more computational in nature and their sacrifice for brevity could be justified. The major detriment of the course is that its audio-only version that I listened to during the daily commute included references to normal forms without verbally describing them (say, in extensive form), making the examples completely incomprehensible. The corresponding booklet did have these, but it was not possible to use them without causing myself and some random stranger on the other side of the rode to enter a game of hawk/dove. That aside, the course is very worthy of the investment and I will consider it exemplary as a basic introduction for the interested layperson.
Date published: 2012-11-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best course of several I have bought I have bought several of the science and math courses, and this is by far the best course of the set. I originally bought it to give me an introduction to the topic as a grad student looking to pursue this as a research area. From the beginning, the professor is interesting and clear, and brings out the real-world relevance of the topic. The pictures presented are basic, but they do lend much to understanding the topic being presented. To be clear, this is not a mathematical explanation of the topic. The mathematics of game theory is very complex. However, this course does a great job in explaining the concepts of the various forms of 2-person and n-person games, and coalition forming games. I would recommend this course to anyone who wouod like to get a general understanding of what game theory is and why it is important. Even those with a mathematical background would benefit from it. For those that have wondered what application math may have on real life, this course provides a good answer.
Date published: 2012-11-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Look beyond the title at an important topic A tremendous introductory course! The range of topics was well-chosen, the explanations were clear and the course was just the right length. Professor Stevens is enthusiastic and easy to listen to. He also has a great ability to make the subject matter relevant to daily life. For example, everyone should understand the concept of The Tragedy of the Commons and the shortcomings of various voting systems. Don't get the wrong impression from the historical name for this subject matter, game theory. It's really about strategic decision-making. My wife and I both greatly appreciated this course and will likely follow up with some of the suggested readings. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2012-11-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A foundation course! This course should be taken by any serious TC student. Game theory now permeates economics, ethics, systems analysis, politics, etc and one cannot afford not to know about it. Thankfully, this course nicely fulfills this objective. The professor is enthusiastic, fun to listen to, has a commanding knowledge of the topic, and presents plenty of real life examples. The math can get detailed, but the main points are usually conveyed. Game theory is about mathematically analysing the branches of a decision tree and which option is theoretically best to pursue. Game theory is not quite ready for everyday life decision making as 'human factors' still influence the payoff of each branch. (example: if you are deciding to purchase house A or house B, you can't simply plug in 'objective' values such as prices, inflation etc and let Game theory tell you which house to buy. You still have to assign a numerical value to 'subjective' factors such as what the neighborhood is worth to you, the appeal of the architecture, etc. and so alot of 'subjectivity' is introduced. As the professor states, "Behavioral Game Theory" is a new field that attempts to study this subjectivity and human irrationality.) In fact, the highlight of this course for me was lecture 16 on why Game Theory often fails in real life. In my opinion this is a foundation course and one needs to have gone through the material at least once. Fortunately Professor Stevens does an excellent job of presenting the course and the lectures go by very quickly.
Date published: 2012-10-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Made Me a Winner I thoroughly enjoyed and actually profited from this course. First, the course content is fascinating. I look forward to repeating this course soon as I know I will get even more from it in a second viewing. The presentation is wonderful. Professor Stevens is a terrific speaker who stays on point, covers what needs to be covered and constantly stimulates interest for more. He is a great instructor. I have put the concepts to work in my business practice and in the business of life. I used a Game Theory strategy to buy a new car and got a great deal and had absolutely no stress from the transaction. And, I'm using many of the ideas presented in the course to help my clients make better business decisions. I have actually turned a rather large profit based on what I learned in the course. That's amazing. There is no dilemma here. To solve the Prisoner's Dilemma and reach your own Nash Equilibrium (I hear the good professor cringe), buy the course. If you don't, they might stop offering it and then you'd really lose out. Better order this one now. Or else... Chris Reich, And PS---I'm trying to understand the mystery of the rings. Sometimes one, sometimes two, sometimes left, sometimes right. Some math code? Secret signal?
Date published: 2012-09-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Heavy on games, light on math, fun all around I'm a professor launching into a new research program. I thought game theory might help, so I wanted a comprehensive yet mathematically easy introduction to understand what it's really about. This course was exactly what I needed. Stevens' presentation was always clear and engaging. I had to pause the video often and rewind sometimes to follow the analysis of some games, but with that, I never got lost. After just six lessons, I was able to talk with an experienced game theorist in depth about my research, and I could follow everything he said. Even when he talked about topics that I had not encountered (though the course eventually did cover most of them), with just the first six lessons the experienced game theorist could easily explain new topics to me. The course is very light on mathematics, and although Stevens does occasionally step through the math (he even dabbles with a little calculus once), he always explains the logic such that even if you completely ignore the math, you can follow the reasoning. This was my perfect intro to game theory. Stevens had lots of lively examples and scenarios throughout, and he made the course truly fun. I looked forward to my daily 30-minute work break of watching these videos.
Date published: 2012-08-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Am I the only person that sees this? The Professor has a facial grimace after every 3rd sentence on average. That grimace means "I disapprove of what you are doing" or "I dislike this". In other words, the Professor is constantly making a sign at me that he is unhappy and is disliking what I am doing or he is receiving. Am I supposed to ignore this? I do not want to learn to ignore facial and body language, that is a bad habit to learn. Would you ignore it if he repeatedly shook his fist at you and snarled? In the end, I turn the screen off, and try get by on the audio only. I am currently on lecture 4. I don't know if I'll be able to make it to the end. It is painful. Frustrating, because I'm really interested in the topic.
Date published: 2012-06-16
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