I’m fascinated by board games

I’m fascinated by board games. The rules, the plain unashamed fun that can be had. Actually not just board games but games in general.

John Nash who was the subject of the popular Ron Howard movie “Beautiful Mind” staring Russell Crowe won his Nobel prize for Economics due to his work on game theory. The idea that most deals made involve very similar rules to games. There are outcomes where one party thinks they have won and the other party has lost. And other situations where a deal can be stuck because both people think they are winning. In the same way as, say, players will swap properties in Monopoly.

Nash believed that if you could understand the way that people played games then you could understand the way that people made deals. And in fact his theories were used by the British government in the auctions of the mobile phone licences some years ago.

Along the way Nash developed a few games of his own. One very similar to a game invented simultaneously and independently which you may know as Othello. The other, which to my knowledge has never been commercially produced was called “Fuck your friend”. The premise was that during the course of the game you would have to team up with another player. In fact it was impossible to win unless you did so. However whoever you picked to be your partner would, if you won, come last in the game. The potential for long friendships being irrevocably destroyed seems quite strong.

Another aspect of these games that fascinates me is the related column. The chess column, the bridge column, I suppose although I haven’t seen one that there must be a poker column. But how did these games get picked? This month I intend to write a weekly column on the subject of Monopoly. Please check back every Thursday.

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