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Rock, Paper, Scissors: Game Theory in Everyday Life

3.39  ·  Rating Details ·  788 Ratings  ·  101 Reviews
The IgNobel Prize-winning author of "How to Dunk a Doughnut" draws on the science of game theory to explain how human beings cooperate in everyday life.
ebook, 278 pages
Published May 14th 2014 by Not Avail (first published 2000)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Riku Sayuj
Lively and full of non-technical examples... but too shallow unless it is the first book on the subject that you are reading. Get a better book if you are serious about the subject, there are some very good ones out there.
Not worth a full review I guess.
Benjamin
Aug 16, 2010 Benjamin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Game theory investigates the motives and dilemmas of social interactions relative to selfishness and cooperation. As we understand game theory we can increase our chances of finding satisfying resolutions by adopting new strategies or even by just having a clearer view of social dilemmas and their underlying causes. In his book on the subject, Rock Paper Scissors, Len Fisher gives the following ten tips:

1. Keep the same strategy if you’re winning, shift strategies if you lose.
2. Bring a third pl
...more
Kater Cheek
Game Theory is one of those subjects I only know a little bit about, and this book promised to lead me to understand it with a cheerful, pop-science writing style. In a way, it succeeded, in that it's peppered with personal anecdotes, some of which are quite enjoyable.
But as far as getting me to understand and be enthusiastic about game theory, it failed. I already understand about brinkmanship and the prisoner's dilemma, and how rock-paper-scissors work, so Fisher's descriptions added little. I
...more
Ami Iida
May 20, 2015 Ami Iida rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: game-theory
In this book the contents are not accompanied with respect title .
It is inadequate mathematical commentary.
I recommend you to read other game theory's books.
Kaara
Feb 15, 2009 Kaara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is a sort of layman's explanation of game theory and how game theory, which is generally associated with competition, can be employed to promote cooperation among individuals, communities, and nations. Sounds promising--I like learning, I like cooperation, let's learn about new ways toward cooperation!

Unfortunately, the author simultaneously gave explanations too large-scale and gave examples too small-scale. What I mean is, the premise, reasoning, and graphic illustrations of most of
...more
Bestand
Sep 29, 2009 Bestand rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Like other reviewers, I found this book light on details. I was also misled to believe that it was primarily a book on game theory. Having now read it and been disappointed in its game theory content, I can appreciate its value as a junction between game theory and political science.

The author has clearly tried to document his attempt to learn about game theory as a tool to more effective human interaction. He hints at possible personal reasons for this. I project onto him a need to form better
...more
Sarah
A non-mathematical discussion of how game theory applies to daily dilemmas and negotiations, this was a surprisingly easy read. Fisher's explanations are consistently clear (no facility with higher math required) and his writing light-hearted and entertaining. From the many examples provided from Fisher's personal life, it seems one invites him to a dinner party at the risk of turning the evening into an experiment in game theory. (Personally, I think that'd be a great way to enliven an evening, ...more
Dmitri
Mar 13, 2009 Dmitri rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Update: Instead of this book, you should read The Compleat Strategyst by J.D. Williams. It's nearly 60 years old and everything Rock, Paper, Scissors wishes it could be. Don't be put off by it being published by Rand- it's actually very easy to understand and surprisingly, very funny. Also The Compleat Strategyst is available for free in PDF form from Rand's website.

Original review: Holy crap! While I was interested in the first 100 pages or so, when the author actually wrote about game theo
...more
Andrew Kaiser
No stars don't mean a bad book; it just means a bad system for rating one.

Fisher's approach to game theory was scientific, but without its esotericism. The subject is no longer overwhelming, and I now see game theory in my life everyday. For example, I want people to hear my music, but not if they don't like it. Strange, this game theory.
Nathan
Mar 09, 2009 Nathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome book! It took me three check-outs and $2.40 in late fees, but I finally finished it. Well worth the time/money.
Brian Darrow
Pretty good high level overview of Game Theory

If you don't know anything about game theory, this book is a nice non technical place to start. If you're looking to get into the mathematical details, I'd recommend a textbook
Aaron
Feb 07, 2017 Aaron rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Solid introduction to extremely basic concepts of game theory with many kinda obnoxious & likely fake examples from the author's personal life.

Personal Note: became interested in this topic as my game group progressed through its SEAFALL campaign.
Douglas Cosby
Nov 12, 2016 Douglas Cosby rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Didn't finish. Decent explanation of game theory, but with really bad examples and segues. I read about 150 of the 280 pages.
Lorraine
Jan 06, 2017 Lorraine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting read. Gets you thinking about the world in different ways.
Richard
This book had a really strong start, with wonderful examples of principles of game theory at play in every day life. The examples were strong, identifiable and fit The concepts of things like the prisoners dilemma and Nash's equilibrium quite exquisitely. Maneuvering a thin sidewalk or awkward traffic made perfect sense.

But then, after about three chapters, examples started to wear thin. The first time I most consciously noticed it was when Fisher used the rather apocryphal story of Kitty Genove
...more
Elizabeth Robinson
A quick note on the subject of this book:
-Game Theory, a bit older than epigenetics but not too old, is the study of decision-making and forming strategies in everyday situations. For instance, the game of rock, paper, scissors; splitting up a birthday cake; or when playing chicken with your neighbor.



Of course, for more info on either of these topics, you can read the books.



Rock, Paper, Scissors
This book was very opinionated. There's nothing wrong with that intention; the author's whole stated

...more
Nick Gotch
Oct 02, 2009 Nick Gotch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first thing you'll want to know before looking any further is: what is game theory? It's more than just a bunch of math for how games work, it applies across the board to a whole host of social and global situations: things ranging from deciding on the best plan for a date night to the global nuclear arms race. And even though it does apply to real games too (like card games, board games, and video games,) those are only a small part of the full field of study.

"Rock, Paper, Scissors" is an i
...more
Matt Erickson
May 13, 2014 Matt Erickson is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
The book discusses social inequality, or the "have not's" in society to a "prisoner's dilemma". The idea that if people always act in their own self interest they may lose the benefit of what the other party could have offered them. He says this is one of the major problems in sociology, and after 2 1/2 years of college I agree! The conclusion that some have come to, and to which the author is coming is that one or the other has to take a disproportionate amount to impel others as motivation. T ...more
Donna Woodwell
Dec 25, 2012 Donna Woodwell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
This book is exactly what it claims to be: game theory for dummies.

Len Fisher is not a game theorist, but a chemist with a talent for popularizing science. This book is an exploration of his fascination with game theory. It's a little history, a little theory, and a lot of irreverent examples.

If you are looking for a book to teach you how to use game theory for world domination (or just dominating your friends), this is not the book for you. Fisher is honest about coming from the book from the
...more
Daniel Solera
Game theory is a concept that has come up several times in particular conversations, usually leaving me stupefied because I didn't really know what it meant. Honestly, after reading Len Fisher's book, I'm still a little dumbfounded, but I have a better grasp now than I did before starting.

Fisher's approach is a simple one to follow. He outlines the different situations, problems or "dilemmas" that can arise in the study of game theory, and then promptly gives simple, quotidian examples of them.
...more
Raluca Popescu
I wanted more from this. It did serve its purpose as a game-theory-for-dummies book, which was fine since I started as a dummy. But it also oscillated between purely technical / theoretical explanations of different dilemmas and oddly personal and irrelevant examples for them. (Another reviewer said "Fisher lazed out" with the illustrations. I tend to agree.) So I don't really feel like less of a dummy now, and it seems like I remember barely anything specific from the whole book.
I'll leave you
...more
Jerry Smith
This book has been on my "to read" shelf for ages and I finally got around to picking it up after having read "Soccernomics" which alludes to game theory in a discussion about penalty shoot outs. It was sufficient to get me wanting to find out more about game theory without a detailed, technical or academic treatise on the subject. This fit the bill perfectly and spurred me onto thinking about finding out more about this fascinating topic.

It is very well written, relatively short and very approa
...more
Christina
Not bad, but I don't think it's really sure what it wants to be. It's a little too science and math heavy to be really reader-friendly as a self-help book (which is most often what it tries to be). There is, for instance, a chapter on quantum computing. But it's too goal-oriented and political to be really credible as a popular science book. It's also a little elementary in places. For instance, Fisher spends a few pages simply defining "social norms." Ultimately, I think, it's a very well-meani ...more
Ryan Groesbeck
The author achieved his stated goal : I now find myself shouting "Game theory!" at things that happen in life that I hadn't previously thought of in those terms. So that's good, I suppose.

It's a good introductory primer to the concepts of game theory, and how we might use them to cooperate better, but it goes a little strange at the end with something called quantum game theory, which I am not going to profess to understand even with his attempts to dumb it down, and I think that subject might
...more
Jacqui
Jan 02, 2009 Jacqui rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book talked about applying the finding of game theory to everyday life. I thought one of the most useful recommendations was to use the Stay if you win, shift if you lose strategy. In computer simulations it was found to be the most successful strategy for repeated interactions. Basically, you start out cooperating. If the other person cooperates as well, you win, and cooperate again the next round. If they don't, you lose and change to a non-cooperating strategy next round. It's different ...more
Jim
Apr 20, 2014 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm pretty sure this is only the second book on Game Theory that I've read, the first being The Predictioneer's Game: Using the Logic of Brazen Self-Interest to See and Shape the Future. While the Predictioneer's Game was a great read, it was (at times) a bit technical for a newcomer to the subject. Rock, Paper, Scissors gives a better layman's introduction to the subject of Game Theory as well as it's numerous real world applications. Fisher also delves into many different classifications of "g ...more
Grayson Queen
Sep 18, 2012 Grayson Queen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I knew I had seen too many TV explanations of Game Theory.

Fisher does an excellent job of explaining Game Theory in a non-mathematical way. Though I suppose most people interested in Game Theory are also math buffs. But for those of use who can barely function without a calculator the book sheds some light on the subject.

Mostly, however, Fisher talks about examples and little about practical application. In fact he spends a lot of time pining away about how Game Theory could end war. Which made
...more
Ninakix
Sep 12, 2010 Ninakix rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-2009
I was excited to read this book, I'd taken a little bit of Economics in school that brushed up against game theory, and I wanted to see how this would apply to some different situations. But when I actually read this, I was disappointed because a lot of the examples were a bit mundane, consisting mostly of examples from dinner parties and five-year-olds' birthday parties. When actually hitting on an interesting example (like, for example, the cold war), the issue was just mentioned in passing, o ...more
Josh
Dec 03, 2015 Josh rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Having actually studied game theory, I was disappointed. If you're interested in the topic, skip this.

The book tries to be an introduction to game theory. It starts off with the standard introduction about prisoner's dilemma and explains how multiple self-interested individuals can force themselves into outcomes that are worse than if they had cooperated. Fisher tries to simplify the relatively basic tables associated with the prisoner's dilemma game by adding smiley faces, and ultimately just o
...more
Pat
Nov 22, 2008 Pat rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A few of the examples provided in the book were apt illustrations of game theory in everyday life, but the overall effect was to trivialize the subject rather than elucidate it. I wish that, instead of explaining how game theory applied to, say, the reason spoons disappear from the office kitchen, how game theory could be applied to the big problems like global warming, modern warfare, global poverty, etc.. Fisher suggests that game theory could help solve these problems, but in the end, it seem ...more
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