Game: The Evolution of Trust

Time to Play: 5-10 minutes

For Christmas this year, I hope that everyone gets an education, and videogames.

But not educational videogames, because they’re rubbish.

Well, most of the time. Game designer Nicky Case is known for the short interactive experiences, that he uses to comment on various political topics. His previous examination on the media, We Come What We Behold, is a fascinating little look at how the mass media can manipulate the general populace.

In July of this year, Case launched a series of educational interactive experiences, based around lots of different concepts. And one of these, The Evolution of Trust, was potentially the most illuminating thing I’ve played all year.

This is part-game, part-lecture, as the narrator in game explains the basics of Game Theory, in regards to our social relationships. Case examines how we interact with the people around us, in ways which can both benefit, and harm, all of us.

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Case sets up a simple trust exercise. 2 characters approach a box, without seeing each other and insert a coin. They then can choose to either ‘cooperate’, or ‘cheat’. If they choose to co-operate, then the other person receives 3 coins. If they choose cheat, then they get their coin back, but the other person receives nothing.

The game offers a selection of different character types, such as The Copycat, or The Grumbler, that each have different rules when interacting with this exercise. The game challenges the player to choose the character type that they think will be most successful. Most of the time, this won’t be what you exp

I felt like I left this game with a better outlook on my own social relationships with people. It also offered a commentary on the current political system, and how that has influenced how people may act. And it frames it all with an exploration of the World War 1 truce on Christmas day (so it’s still festive!).

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Queries:

  • What would you say that videogames have taught you?
  • Have you studied any game theory, or any academic field related to games? (Ludology perhaps?)
  • Are you an ‘Always Cheat’, or ‘Always Co-operate’ kinda gal?