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Harrison’s Applied Game Theory: The 6 Games That Define Human Interaction


Many of my students and clients have an interest in applied game theory and game-based thinking but they are a bit overwhelmed and think it is complex. Believe me, it isn’t.

All you need to do is recognize that excluding love, and spirituality, everything in the world can be experienced as if it is a game.

With this concept in mind, there are only 6 categories of games that define human interactions. Once you understand this you can maximize your potential and a very low cost.



Let’ explore each type and learn what makes each unique…


The 6 Types of Games

A Win-Win Game

This is generally called a non-zero sum game.  This describes a situation in which the interacting players accumulate gains and losses and these can be less than or more than zeroNon-zero-sum games can be either competitive or non-competitive. Example: Philanthropy and love.


A Win-Lose Game

This is generally called a Zero Sum Game and is a situation in which one participant’s gains result only from another participant’s equivalent losses. The net change in total wealth among participants is zero; the basic terms, it means that if one person wins than everyone else has to lose. Example: Checkers


Sequential Move Game

This is a game where there are two players and the players take turns sequentially, in ways or moves to achieve a defined winning process. Example: Chess, Checkers, and Tic-tac toe

A Simultaneous Move Game

This is a game where each player chooses their action and make their move without knowledge of actions chosen by other players. Example: Rock-Paper-Scissors,


A Perfect information Game

This is a game where all players have access to the same information.  A game has perfect information if it is a sequential move game within a scenario in which a player is theorized to have all relevant information to make a decision.  In this type of game, each player can see all of the pieces on the board at all times. Some, though not all Perfect information games involve chance (luck). Backgammon is an example of such a game. Here both players are completely aware of the state of the game at all times and can use this to inform their decisions. Still, the progress of the game will depend on random dice rolls. Example: Perfect information games include Chess, Tic-tac-toe, and the classic Chinese game of strategy “Go”.


Imperfect Information Games. 

These are games where some players have access to information that other players don’t. These are also known as  “incomplete information games”.  We may not know it but many of us are actually playing an imperfect information life game when we are buying health or medical insurance. In the health insurance market buyers know more about their own health problems than do any insurance providers. With this better information, buyers have an incentive to conceal their health problems in an attempt to get a lower insurance premium.

If insurance providers knew that a person had a history of heart problems, these providers could charge them a higher rate. This informational disparity found in imperfect information games is referred to as “asymmetric information”Example: Poker and the buying of medical insurance are among the best examples of an Imperfect Information Game.

Note: Keep in mind that In both perfect and imperfect information games players are unaware of the actions chosen by other players. Still, they may know who the other players are/what their possible actions are or might be/and the likely preferences of these other players. Information about other players may be almost complete and yet it is still incomplete and imperfect.

For the individual interested in spirituality and transformation these six categories for game-based thinking might seem overwhelming in the beginning, but ultimately combinations of the six elements I have described appear in all games, and in all aspects of human relationships, from the most basic to the most sophisticated and complex.


Lewis Harrison is a teacher, mentor, and best-selling author.

He is director of the Coach Training Program.

Learn more about his work at www.RealUGuru.com

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