Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Shorter Version of the Previous Post

Right, that took longer than I thought. Okay, the gist:

The game we are in is at a point of equilibrium. Unless something changes, the game is stalemated. Neither side gains by changing their strategy and risks much by doing so. However, this state of equilibrium is not stable and can yet be altered. And if something should change then a cascade effect can lead to rapid and radical change in the game's state.

We are playing a complicated game that simplifies to a variation of Chicken.

Neither side sees gain in switching from their mutually exclusive positions – we are still at a point where the cars are headed towards each other. However, outside events can induce either side to balk. This will result in a collapse of the present game state and a transition to a new one. Potentially, the derivative state where one side has an overwhelming advantage against the other – ie the winning state.

Winning a game of Chicken depends on convincing your opponent that they have no choice. They either ruin themselves or lose. And losing is preferable to ruin.

Correlary: Winning at Chicken depends on convincing yourself that you have no course but to give your opponent only one choice – you either force them to allow you to win or to ruin both themselves and yourself. Admitting possibilities where you can lose is not an option.

In order to win you have to accept the risk of ruin while at the same time working to avoid it.

Such a strategy is dependent not on in-game factors but on the meta. To outgame your opponent you have to rely on forces outside the game to influence their behavior within the game.

The solution? Find ways to increase the outside pressure on your opponent to change their moves.

With so many players each looking to their own priorities the more you convince that they're playing to lose, not to win, the easier it is to convince the rest. Convince one to switch, then another, then another, and soon enough, they'll be convincing themselves to take the least bad option.

And, conversely, the more you can hold your own coalition together the more likely you are to succeed yourself.

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