Introduction to Game Theory 101

This article examines social games that are played between men and women.

Targeted Readership: All

The content is organized as follows.

  1. Introduction
  2. Women Love to Play Social Games
  3. The Essence of Playing Games
  4. Considerations, Terms, and Definitions
  5. Generalized Types of Social Games
  6. The Fundamental Result – How the Game Plays Out
  7. Your Choice to Play a Game
  8. Tips for Playing the Game Well
  9. Game Traps to Avoid
  10. Conclusions

[Eds. note: In the future, I plan to write a post describing several types of games.]

1. Introduction

Games are an enjoyable, emotionally healthy, and socially acceptable venue for establishing relationship dynamics and expressing one’s personality. However, certain types of games are unhealthy, and even damaging. This post will consider both aspects.

Understanding game theory is an important foundation for playing any type of game, including, but not limited to social games, board games, war games, business marketing strategies, etc. Here, I should differentiate between PUA Game, and social games. PUA Games are only one genre of social games, which have the intent of creating a positive impression and building rapport with women targeted as a romantic interest. PUA Games are comparable to Machiavellian behaviors in women. That is, they both have the intention of creating an image that is attractive to the opposite sex, but which may or may not be deeply characteristic of the person’s nature.

This article covers social games in general, which may be played with anyone, new acquaintances, and LTR partners as well. To express the differentiation, Game, with a capital G, will be used to indicate PUA Games, and social games will remain in lower case.

2. Women Love to Play Social Games

As you might have noticed, women love what men call ‘drama’. Women love ‘drama’ because it is emotionally engaging, exciting, and fulfilling to their ego gratification. But men hate drama, because they want an efficient, reliable, smooth-running, no-nonsense performance in every area of their lives.

Even the best quality women sometimes create ‘drama’ by playing games. So, to some extent, playing games with women is important for their own sense of contentment and satisfaction within a relationship.

On the one hand, a woman who never engages in games is probably rigid, stodgy and dry. But very few women are so mature that they find it silly and childish to play games. In fact, people who are healthy and mature will engage in social games. But ironically, most women are so immature, that they depend on games to give their daily life meaning and excitement.

Since encountering a game-minded woman is such a common occurrence, a mature man, especially one seeking a relationship with a woman, should not allow himself to be intimidated by a woman’s propensity for drama and games. A wise man should take it as a fact of life.

If a man chooses to have a woman in his life, then it’s quite likely that he’ll get pulled into this game stuff. So if you are in a relationship with such a woman, and if she insists on playing a game, then you’ll have to play it too. Otherwise, if you don’t, then you risk being relegated to her ‘boring’ list, with all of the associated presumptuousness, indignation, and disrespect.

Once you have accepted the burden challenge of engaging in her games, do not be surprised if you find that you have to get good enough to beat her at her own game, in order to garner respect, assert your authority, and maintain order in the relationship.

The great thing about playing games with a woman, is that there is seldom a downside. Even if she discovers that you’re playing a game with her, it won’t be the same as ‘showing your hand’ in a poker game. This is because the game itself tends to generate the Tingles, and her knowing what you’re doing will not necessarily dampen the excitement. She will be delighted that you are interacting with her on the meta-level.

3. The Essence of Playing Games

Ideally, relationships and relationship games are an engagingly fun, challenging way to push us to know ourselves better and to become more mature. (Maturity is a very complex topic, and is unique to each individual.)

All games have a goal that is understood among the players. Most relationship games involve making implied requests, or ‘bids’, for the other person’s time, attention, or some other investment.

Immature people do not like to accept bids. Instead, they want others to accept theirs without the expectation of reciprocation. Mature, responsible people are more accepting of bids, and more likely to return a bid.

One essential goal of making a bid is to get the other person to express an acknowledgment of your persona, and to do something more for you. If you can get the other person to do more for you, it has the psychological and emotional effect of making them justify their actions mentally, and thereby grow to feel more emotionally in tune with you. Basically, the more they do for you, the more they will love you. The trick is to make the highest bid that the person will accept without questioning the appropriateness of the bid, or the worthiness of their response. Bidding too high at once will cause self-consciousness, uneasiness, suspicion, and possibly resentment. They will begin to feel like they’re doing more for you than what their emotional constitution might warrant as a natural expression of their love for you. At that point, the interaction becomes a burden, rather than a game. So a larger goal of making bids and playing games, is to drive up your bidding price.

In every social interaction, and especially in playing Games, the participants must understand a mutually agreed-upon principle; otherwise they would not comprehend how the game is to be played, nor would they have an inclination towards an appropriate response. Acceptance of the principles is necessary before participants can agree to play the game. This is an aspect that is worthy of attention in the beginning of a relationship, since it tends to reveal the basic thought patterns and deeper values within a person. If the participants are compelled or forced to play the game, then it is beneficial for all players to agree on some principles.

Concerning the open discussion of a game, women are different. Some women will admire you more if you show a cognitive awareness of the game, but other women might feel like you are overanalyzing it to the point of nerdishness. After a game has been concluded however, a discussion of the play interaction is less inappropriate. So it helps to recognize the level of awareness and maturity in one’s counterpart.

Within certain types of games, it is imperative that you do not ‘give away the game’ by discussing the plays in excruciating detail, ‘showing your hand’, or talking about strategy in too much detail. It’s more advantageous to allow her the pleasure of being surprised.

4. Considerations, Terms, and Definitions

Games can have several features, a few of the most common are listed here.

Number of Players: Each person who makes a choice in a game or who receives a payoff from the outcome of those choices, is a ‘player’.

The goal: Every game must have a predetermined goal, which is almost always accompanied by certain rules of engagement. Usually, the goal is agreed upon by all players, and some games cannot be played skillfully unless this is condition is true.

Real vs. Perceived goals: A real goal, also called a ‘payoff’, is strongly related to a players purpose for playing the game. A perceived goal is a smaller move in the game, which is often related to a particular strategy. As an analogy, the real goal is the ‘war’, and the perceived goal is the ‘battle’. For example, in the game of chess, a checkmate, which determines the end of the game, is both the real and perceived goal. If a player perceives that the goal is something else, such as taking all their opponents pieces, then the perceived goal may not necessarily lead to the real goal of winning. So it is important for a player to be aware of the difference between the two types of goals. There are a number of games in which the game involves keeping the real goal different, or at least seen to be different, from the perceived goal.

The purpose: The perceived purpose is the motivation that each player has to participate in the game. Some common purposes include playing for fun, for profit, for social control, for political control, etc. It should be noted that different people may have different purposes for participating in a game.

Real vs. Perceived purposes: A real purpose is strongly related to a players’ goal (or ‘payoff’) for playing the game, and is often equal to the motivation that each player has to participate in the game. It should be noted that different people may have different purposes. Some common real purposes include playing for fun, for profit, for social control, for political control, to understand one’s opponent, to deepen a relationship, etc. The perceived purpose is what a player believes his opponent’s real purpose is, or what the other players believe the players real purpose is, which may be different from each players’ real purpose. Sometimes it may be advantageous to conceal one’s real purpose, or to purport a perceived purpose that is different from one’s real purpose. It should be noted that a variance between the two purposes can be seen as deceitful in some games, but for other games, it is considered cunning.

Mastering a game: A person who can conceptualize and fulfill more than one purpose within a single game is considered to be a master of the game. Since the success of a LTR depends on both players attaining their respective purposes, it is vastly beneficial for the man to be a master, so that he can orchestrate a mutual fulfillment of both players purposes within a positive sum game.

Strategies per player: In a game, each player chooses from a set of possible actions, known as pure strategies. If the number of pure strategies is the same for all players, it is considered a ‘fair game’.

Pure strategy: A pure strategy is a single strategy that a player settles into, and does not deviate from. In some games, clinging to pure strategy can be regarded as naïve, or amateur, whereas, for other games, it might be considered prudent to stick to a pure strategy which has been shown to yield the best chance of a payoff.

Number of pure strategy Nash equilibria: A Nash equilibrium is a set of strategies which represents the mutual best responses to the other strategies. In other words, if every player is playing their part of a Nash equilibrium, and all are receiving payoffs, then no player has an incentive to unilaterally change his or her strategy. Considering only situations where players play a single strategy without randomizing (a pure strategy) a game can have any number of Nash equilibria.

Sequential vs. simultaneous move game: A game is sequential if one player performs her/his actions after another player; otherwise, the game is a simultaneous move game.

Perfect information: A game has perfect information if it is a sequential game and every player knows the strategies chosen by the players who preceded them.

Symmetric vs. Asymmetric game: A symmetric game is a game where the payoffs for playing a particular strategy depend only on the other strategies employed, not on who is playing them. If the identities of the players can be changed without changing the payoff to the strategies, then a game is symmetric. In an asymmetric game, certain individuals have strategies or advantages that other players do not have.

5. Generalized Types of Social Games

Constant sum: A game is constant sum if the sum of the payoffs to every player are the same for every single set of strategies. In these games one player gains if and only if another player loses. A constant sum game can be converted into a zero sum game by subtracting a fixed value from all payoffs, leaving their relative order unchanged.

Zero-Sum Game – Players interests are in direct conflict such that there is a winner and a loser. The zero-sum game is typically a game of chance, competition, skill, power, and dominance. Examples include card games, and competitive sports.

Women who play the zero-sum game in serious matters are typically deemed by marriage-minded men to be unworthy as a partner, and are thus avoided and rejected from LTR’s, especially if she has an arrogant or presumptuous attitude in the matter.

Zero Sum Game

Positive-Sum Game – The interests of the players are not all in direct conflict. Thus, there are some outcomes which would benefit all players. The positive-sum game is a game of partnership. Examples include team sports and business transactions.

In a relationship, both people should have the mind to play a Positive-Sum game, which is of benefit to both partners. In a Positive-Sum Game, the partners should think in terms of “we”, and “us”, and seek mutually beneficial outcomes.

Positive Sum Game

Negative-Sum Game – The interests of the players are not contingently opposed to each other, such that everyone could lose. The negative-sum game is a game of compromise, sacrifice, and perhaps trust, and the goal is for the mutual benefit of all who are involved. A well studied example of the Negative-Sum Game is the Prisoner’s Dilemma.

The institution of marriage is inherently (and ideally) a Negative-Sum Game, which offers certain benefits that one would not encounter outside of a mutually fulfilling partnership, such as shared expenses, regular sexual engagement with a trustworthy partner, and the blessings of having a ‘home base’ and children. These benefits (are supposed to) offset the burdens and loneliness of being single.

Negative Sum Game

6. The Fundamental Result – How the Game Plays Out

By carefully observing how she plays a game, you can learn a lot about her character, temperament, and strength of values. She also becomes more familiar with your Frame of mind, which is crucial for her to be able to trust and rely on you.

Ideally, a game should increase your joy and intimacy.

Once you start playing a game with her, there are four possible outcomes.

  1. The game becomes the central focus of your daily interaction, and she expects it on a regular basis.
  2. She will find the emotional connection and fulfillment she is looking for, and her interest in playing the game will fade away.
  3. 1 happens for a long time, and then 2 happens.
  4. She gets bored with the game, possibly because you never play (well), or you always win, or because she cannot find any gratification from it. She abandons this game and starts playing another. At worst, she dismisses you as an unworthy partner and starts playing this game with another man. (If this happens, don’t sweat it too much. Just kick her out the door, chalk it up as a lesson learned, and move on.)

Depending on the game, and the constitution of your partner, you may have some measure of control over how the game plays out. If the game is positive, pleasant, and leads to greater joy and intimacy, then outcomes 1-3 are acceptable. If the game is negative, destructive, and/or troublesome, then you may like to orchestrate the better aspects of the fourth outcome, if possible.

But what if she loves playing the zero-sum game?

Some women have learned the zero-sum game from a meddlesome father or a cruel older brother while growing up in a competitive family environment. Some alpha-type men teach women to play zero-sum games for the sake of creating a humiliating one-upmanship drama in the relationship, which most women crave (e.g. Fifty Shades of Grey). If present, this is one aspect of a past relationship that becomes a major contributor towards the B!tch/Alpha Widow syndrome. If this dynamic is in play, a man would probably have to do the same to compete against those memories (at least for a time), and secure a fresh place in her heart.

If your girlfriend/wife has had a family or any ex-boyfriends like this, then you have three extra challenges:

  1. Play her games, learn to like them, and learn to beat her at it (at least now and then). Show her that you’re just as good as her father, brother, or ex badass boyfriend, and by doing so, establish your relevancy to her life.
  2. Do the work of re-educating her to think constructively.
  3. Face the possibility that her conditioned inclination to play the Zero-Sum Game may have become ingrained within her subconscious mind and personality, and is therefore not likely to change.

7. Your Choice to Play a Game

One fundamental part of playing a game, is to first figure out what the game is. Just like the saying goes,

“A problem, once identified, is half solved.”

Ideally, a game should increase your joy and intimacy. But not all games are inclined to this end. So it is important to first determine the nature of the game, and analyze whether the outcome is beneficial towards your relationship. This can be done as follows.

  1. Analyze the purpose of the game she wants to play. There are basically two types of purposes for games, Positive and Negative. Positive Games are played for personal growth, challenge, fun, and excitement. Negative games are played to shame you, distance you, prove you wrong, and/or assert power and dominance, etc.
  2. Decide whether this is a game you want to play. If you don’t think playing the game will bring about a good outcome, you can always abstain from the game by ‘playing dumb’. Playing dumb can actually be a good choice under certain circumstances, because it essentially dismisses her moves and discourages the continuance of such a game. After a long time of having no response to her game, she will give up trying to play this game, especially if her attention is displaced onto other games. In the best case scenario, she will give up her interest in playing negative games because she will feel that playing her game is stupid and childish. In the worst case, she will dismiss you as a stupid dumb-@ss, and possibly have an affair.

8. Tips for Playing the Game Well

  1. Respect her moves in the game. Try to learn from her behaviors. Try to make all games a Positive-Sum.
  2. Consider the possible benefits of congratulating her openly and pointing out how she did well. If she is sincere towards your relationship, then this warm acknowledgment tends to melt hearts and spread legs.
  3. Recognize when you have lost. A simple statement like, “Awww! You got me again!” is sufficient. Let her savor the joy of victory every now and then, as this is something that will let her feel drawn to you, and emotionally secure when playing your games. Never whine and complain about losing (unless you can make her laugh by playacting that stance). Just move on.
  4. Recognize your own mistakes to yourself. It isn’t necessary for you to talk to her about it, and it might even be more beneficial if you don’t. Simply take note and adjust your own game accordingly.
  5. Be insistent on what you need. Don’t forfeit your essential requirements for your own contentment in the relationship.
  6. Don’t make/allow constitutional things like love, affection, sex, money, to become pawns in the game. Doing so puts the game on a visceral level that tends to deprive the relationship of dignity and honor. However, if she has already chosen to do so, then she has upped the ante to the realm of dirty pool. In that case, you may have to bite the bullet, go hardcore, and play the same game, at a higher level of risk, or else, bow out of the relationship and look for someone else with a gentler heart. Some profoundly resourceful individuals may find other options, or swap this game out with another that is more positive.

9. Game Traps to Avoid

  1. When you win a game, be careful not to appear excessively arrogant, or ride it on her for too long, or else she may lose the feeling of being loved and cherished. Some women may become indignant and resentful.
  2. Be ready to swallow your pride. If she wins a game, be a graceful loser. If you cannot admit fault, apologize and say “I’m sorry” once in a while, then she may think you are too hard and insensitive.
  3. Don’t make the mistake of presuming that her desire to play a game is a direct challenge to your masculinity or authority. If you do, she will think you are weak and insecure.
  4. Be careful about insinuating that she has an unfair advantage over you. There tend to be no “unfair” moves in the game, except for extreme measures that would prove to be deal-breakers for the relationship, e.g. hiding money, having affairs, etc. Sometimes, and with certain women, pointing out how she is being unfair might motivate her to play more ‘honestly’. But other times, with certain women, she might think you cannot handle her, and that you are just making cowardly excuses.

10. Conclusions

  • Life is not a zero-sum game.
  • God is just, so the result depends on you.
  • You might win when others win.
  • You might lose when others lose.
  • You don’t win anything when others lose.
  • You don’t lose anything when others win.
  • Try to enjoy the Game, and use it to your mutual
  • Set your mind to gracefully build her up through graceful, competitive gamemanship.
  • Your conduct in the game should elicit her respect.

[Eds. note: I may update post in the future.]


About Jack

Jack is a world traveling artist, skilled in trading ideas and information, none of which are considered too holy, too nerdy, nor too profane to hijack and twist into useful fashion. Sigma Frame Mindsets and methods for building and maintaining a masculine Frame
This entry was posted in Game Theory, Male Power, Maturity, Personal Growth and Development, Models of Success and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Introduction to Game Theory 101

  1. earl says:

    Playing games with women sounds like trying to play chess with classical music going on in the background.


    • Wayne says:

      Earl, I believe if a man could achieve such a mindset, it would serve him well. Not only would he have a sense of detached mastery, but he would also be better able to maintain frame and stay focused on the moves.


      • earl says:

        I’ve come to find detached mastery doesn’t necessarily come from playing games with women and winning at it.

        I’m doing a program called Exodus 90. Detached mastery is trying to rid yourself of worldly addictions and replacing it with prayer, good friends, and a little self-discipline.

        I supposed there are different types of detachment and mastery at it…but I think the best one for men is a little more detachment from the world.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Wayne says:

        Earl, yes, the approach should be, mastery first, and engagement second. The detached mastery must be a psychological habit practiced in silence and diligence, and prayer is a good way to do that. Likewise, most guys need to develop (psychological and emotional) detachment, not only from the enticements of this world, but especially from women themselves, before they are successfully able to interact with either.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Farm Boy says:

    Marriage is supposed to be a positive sum game. Modern marriage unfortunately is a zero sum or negative sum game


    • Wayne says:

      Farm Boy, Marriage has always been a negative sum game but the reasons for this have changed over the last hundred years or so. In the past, marriage was intended to ameliorate poverty and isolation, but in recent times, these payoffs have been significantly reduced in terms of their certainty.
      Zero sum games within a relationship usually spell out an abusive exchange, whereas a healthy marriage should be filled with positive sum games.
      It is my hope that this post might improve people’s awareness of this dynamic, and motivate them to restructure their approach to relationships in the pursuit of more positive and healthy games.


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