A Player of Games

Ear­lier to­day I had an idea for a meta-game a group of peo­ple could play. It’d be ideal if you lived in an in­ten­tional com­mu­nity, or were at uni­ver­sity with a games so­ciety, or some­where with reg­u­lar Less Wrong Mee­tups.

Each time you would find a new game. Each of you would then study the rules for half an hour and strate­gise, and then you’d play it, once. After­wards, com­pare thoughts on strate­gies and meta-strate­gies. If you haven’t played Im­pe­ri­al­ism, try that. If you’ve never tried out Martin Gard­ner’s games, try them. If you’ve never played Phut­ball, give it a go.

It should help teach us to un­der­stand new situ­a­tions quickly, look for work­able ex­ploits, ac­cu­rately model other peo­ple, and com­pute Nash equil­ibrium. Ob­vi­ously, be care­ful not to end up just spend­ing your life play­ing games; the aim isn’t to be­come good at play­ing games, it’s to be­come good at learn­ing to play games—hope­fully in­clud­ing the great game of life.

How­ever, it’s im­por­tant that no-one in the group know the rules be­fore hand, which makes find­ing the new games a lit­tle harder. On the plus side, it doesn’t mat­ter that the games are well-bal­anced: if the world is mad, we should be look­ing for ex­ploits in real life.

It could be re­ally helpful if peo­ple who knew of good games to play gave sug­ges­tions. A name, pos­si­bly some for­mal speci­fi­ca­tions (num­ber of play­ers, av­er­age time of a game), and some way of ac­cess­ing the rules. If you only have the rules in a text-file, rot13 them please, and like­wise for any dis­cus­sion of strat­egy.