Game strategies: Cooperation vs Competition

Last updated: March 3, 2017

We all like to win; so a cooperative game where everybody gets something 'should' be desirable for everyone who is risk-averse and diplomatic. However, risk takers prefer zero-sum games; in which there is a clear winner and loser/losers.

The Nash equilibrium is an example of a cooperative game. "Prisoner's dilemma" is an example of the Nash equilibrium. It is a game involving two prisoners; If one confesses and the other doesn't; then the one who confesses will face 10 yrs in prison. If neither confesses then both prisoners will each serve 15 yrs years in prison. If both confess then they both serve 5 yrs in prison. The NASH Eq is in effect in the last situation where both prisoners get 5 yrs. If, in this situation both prisoners were competitive then they'd end up in jail for the max period.
However, if one prisoner was competitive and the other played it safe. The competitive one would serve no jail time.

In a Hobbesian world everyone would be competitive and limited resources would have the better of us. In an ideal world everyone would play it safe ; in the real world most people prefer to avoid taking risks and alpha-males topple the rest of us over. Or do they?

Is it better to be competitive(Big Win:Lose) or cooperative(Win:Win)?

Game strategies: Cooperation vs Competition
Yes because...

Be competitive

Most people are not courageous enough to be competitive and acknowledging this being competitive feels like the best strategy for those who dare.

Monopolies have used the principal of competition to rise above everyone else; booting out new competition before it could be threatening. Using bribes and/or other forms of venality even aggression and threats is common in the history of how many big organizations started. Sometimes playing against the rules to comply with unwritten rules is required. Getting a patent for your product/invention and/or getting legal copyright for your writing in case of a novelist or writer is another way of keeping competitors at bay.

Products are copied,re-engineered and blue-prints/designs are stolen, everyday. It's a dog eat dog town.
If you can't take on corruption being corrupt is the only option. (if you can't beat 'em join 'em)

"Zero sum
The basic assumption of competitive negotiation is that it is a 'zero sum game'. That is, the people involved believe that there is a fixed amount to be gained which both people desire, and if one person gains then the other person loses. It is like arguing over a pie: if one person gets a piece of the pie then the other person does not.
The outcome of zero-sum negotiation is defined in terms of winners and losers. One person gets what they want and feels smug (or maybe a bit guilty) whilst the other person gets loses out and feels cheated or a failure."-[[]]


No because...
What about integrity or playing fair?
What about morality in business.

A company that is notorious for venal practices and corruption including rough handling competitor firms or newly emerging small firms; alienates other member of the business community. In business connections are key and this risk for a quick is not worth it.

We should look out for everyone and not for just ourselves. If we only look out for numero uno we will lose all our friends in the long run. [[]]

Game strategies: Cooperation vs Competition
Yes because...

As in the debate definition Competitive strategies are the best and only option in zero sum games.

In the case where there is a game that allows no room for draws; where the only outcome could be either winning or losing; it is necessary to take your competitor down ; rather than negotiate with him/her through civil/social contact/contract.

For example in wars the situation on the battlefield when the rules made it clear that prisoners cannot be taken was to kill or be killed. This problem required a soldier to take a life or die.

Now, most zero-sum games are not as extreme but the understanding is the same; there is no incentive to accommodate the competitor because there is no leeway for both parties to win.
No because...
Even in a zero-sum game ; competitive strategies such as cheating should not be employed. An honorable soldier does not poison his adversaries, he does not stab an enemy in the back and he gives any enemy soldier the right to fight against him.
And in more recent wars a soldier is required to be able to opt for imprisonment over death if s/he faces certain death.

Ultimately, any problem should be resolved with the satisfaction and civil treatment of both/all sides. We're human beings not animals even in extreme situations there are rules of courtesy that are expected. [[]]

Game strategies: Cooperation vs Competition
No because...

As in the debate definition Nash equilibrium points out that being cooperative in certain situations is better than being competitive

That is, if both prisoners confessed they'd be better off than if both prisoners refused to confess. [[]]

Yes because...
This only works when the prisoners can make a trust-worthy deal to confess and have the security/surety/insurance that the other prisoner will confess also.

Prisoners are usually kept apart and therefore cannot strike such trust-worthy unions.

Good-cop bad cop strategies are continuously employed to dupe one prisoner into believing, that the other prisoner ratted him out and took no blame for the crime/act(did not confess)

When there is no insurance the prisoner who does not confess wins.

Game strategies: Cooperation vs Competition
No because...

Most games are never truly zero-sum and there is always room to accommodate a partial win for the other side

Whenever negotiation is entered into for the purpose of making a contract; cooperative strategies are encouraged. The object of negotiation is not to cut talks off but to consummate talks on an equally satiated footing. The objective is to maintain amicable contact for the long run, to leave with a good impression and a civil handshake with purely good feelings. [[]]

In the business world connections are everything; insulting people, disrespecting them or just shutting them up will turn you into a bankrupt pariah if you are not careful.
Yes because...
The big boss/Alpha-male/Top-man is never a pariah. He's the person who can be rude to anyone because he does not need to coerce or patronize people to get to the tops; he's already there.

Inventors, big-shot writers, celebrities diplomats etc make demands on other people who comply only to be around these people. The idea is that any publicity or contact with this negative or positive with be great for business. Call it the diplomatic license or the dumb-pretty-blonde-charm; it works.

Sometimes these people even get away with murder. The idea is to get to the top and it doesn't matter how you got there ; stay there employing the same competitive strategies.

Rules of the jungle: Survival of the fittest. [[]]

Game strategies: Cooperation vs Competition
No because...

Which is more fun?

Not everyone lives life to become the top dog and to win everything. Being top of a heirarchy is incredibly stressful, you have to watch your back all the time and manage the affairs of an entire corporation, there's never time to sleep, and you can still have all the things humans enjoy - money, sex etc. by being moderately successful.

There are many fun ways to play a game - hack it, lose in an amusing way, see how far you can get while at a great disadvantage (which sounds more awesome - 'most successful local business' or 'most successful local business in a recession'?), see how many other people you can get playing it at once (to see if the game can handle being overloaded). Granted, if the stakes are real, such as in business, this playing around is less appealing, but if you know you can survive it without actually dying, a resourceful person can rebuild if they lose.
Yes because...

Continue the Debate - Leave a Comment

1 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
1 Comment authors
Notify of