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Players Making Decisions: Game Design Essentials and the Art of Understanding Your Players by Zack Hiwiller

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21. Problems with Game Theory

Reality continues to ruin my life.

—BILL WATTERSON

Although game theory is interesting and provides a useful theoretical framework for what rational decision makers should choose, it has its limitations when you’re dealing with real-world games. The first limitation is that examples in game theory tend to deal with highly idealized problems where payouts are clear, information is shared, and complexity is mediated to a reasonable level. However, it’s difficult to transfer the knowledge from a good game theory problem to action inside a video game as complex as, for example, Halo.

However, even if you are able to perfectly model those textbook examples in your game’s decisions, you still have reasons to distrust the ...

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