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Philosophy of Science, What Is a Game?

By BERNARD SUITS, University of Waterloo

By means of a critical examination of a number of theses as to the nature of game-playing, the following definition is advanced: To play a game is to engage in activity directed toward bringing about a specific state of affairs, using only means permitted by specific rules where the means permitted by the rules are more limited in scope than they would be in the absence of the rules, and where the sole reason for accepting such limitations is to make possible such activity.

Prompted by the current interest of social and behavioral scientists in games and encouraged by the modest belief that it is not demonstrably impossible for philosophers to say something of interest to scientists, I propose to formulate a definition of game playing. […]

1. Game-Playing as the Selection of Inefficient Means. Mindful of the ancient canon that the quest for knowledge obliges us to proceed from what is knowable to us to what is knowable in itself, I shall begin with the commonplace that playing games is different from working. Games, therefore, might be expected to be what work, in some salient respect, is not. Let me now baldly characterize work as “technical activity,” by which I mean activity in which an agent (as rational worker) seeks to employ the most efficient available means for reaching a desired goal. Since games, too, evidently have goals, and since means are evidently employed for their attainment, the possibility suggests itself that games differ from technical activities in that the means employed in games are not the most efficient. Let us say, then, that games are goal-directed activities in which inefficient means are intentionally (or rationally) chosen. […]

By | October 14th, 2013|Categories: Simulations|Tags: , |0 Comments

Why I Hate Reality TV

By Garry Shirts
January 2005

I am talking specifically about Survivor and The Weakest Link. I haven’t watched any other reality TV shows but I assume they follow a similar format. Both of these programs are zero sum contests. If one person wins another person loses. Most sports are zero sum games. I enjoy watching sports, betting on sports and participating in sports, so it’s not the fact that these are zero sum contests that bother me. […]

In the Survivor show, teams compete against other teams and team members also compete against each other. I don’t mind teams competing against other teams, that’s a reflection of the real world. Pepsi competes against Coca Cola, Toyota against General Motors, etc. But the assumption that teams are made up of people who are competing against every other member of the team galls me.

There are such teams but, as in these reality shows, they are highly dysfunctional. The arguments, the sabotage, the conspiracies, the secret alliances, the third party communications that characterize the interaction on these teams make interesting viewing, but I’m concerned that people will start to believe that this is the only model for a team. Believing and acting as though every other team member is your potential enemy greatly reduces the team’s effectiveness and suboptimizes any system for which the team is responsible It also creates pain and suffering for everyone but the winner and even the winner often comes out a loser because of the damage done to his or her reputation and to his or her feelings of self worth.

In our Power of Leadership simulation, participants assume it is a zero sum game and generally base their decisions and behavior […]

By | October 12th, 2013|Categories: Simulations|Tags: , |0 Comments

Ten Secrets of Successful Simulations

By R. Garry Shirts

An experiential simulation can be a wonderful training method. But it’s easy to create a one that is not as effective as it could be. Here are some suggestions for improving your chances of being successful.

One of the most satisfying experiences in training or education, no matter what the subject, is the so-called “Aha!” moment, that instant when sudden, spontaneous insight cuts through the tangle of loose ends in a learner’s mind to reveal a memorable truth. […]

Having spent nearly 40 years designing experiential simulations, I believe simulations are the most likely teaching method to create those “Aha!” moments. In a simulation called StarPower, the moment occurs when trainees, who might be police officers or corporate managers, unexpectedly realize that the only way to keep power over others is not to use it. In BaFa’ BaFa’, the moment comes when trainees suddenly grasp the idea that good intentions can actually worsen cultural misunderstandings. In a team-building simulation called Pumping the Colors, it happens when trainees abruptly comprehend that the rules a team operates under are actually the team’s responsibility.

When combined with other unique strengths of simulations-their ability to simplify systems, to demonstrate other people’s perspectives, to develop “battlefront” skills in safety, and to solve problems from the inside out – these eye-opening moments can endow trainees with a vivid, often deeply personal understanding of even the most abstract training concepts.

Simulations, however, are widely misunderstood. The most experienced trainers, called upon to design a simulation, often create a workaday version of the board game “Monopoly.” These are sometimes successful as play, but rarely effective as training.

Here are 10 secrets for creating successful training simulations. They represent lessons learned from […]

By | October 12th, 2013|Categories: Simulations|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments