when does tragedy = gameplay?

The tragedy of the commons is an economics theory, according to which individuals, acting independently and rationally according to each one’s self-interest, behave contrary to the whole group’s long-term best interests by depleting some common resource. 

Take an example of overfishing. Every fisherman knows that if there is too much fishing then eventually fish stocks will run out. If all the fishermen could agree to fish at sustainable levels then the fish stocks could last forever. However, if one fisherman starts to overfish then eventually the fish stocks will run out.

When this happens the others might as well overfish as well to get as much as possible before the stocks run out. It only takes someone to start overfishing to mean that it is then logical for everyone else to overfish. The first person might start because they think that just them overfishing will not make any difference but once they start then everyone else soon joins them and the stocks run out.
This is similar to the prisoners’ dilemma. However in the prisoners’ dilemma individuals cannot communicate and so, if they act logically, then they won’t co-operate with the other players and will end up with a worse outcome. In the tragedy of the commons everyone can communicate but it still leads to a situation where a collective resource is overused.

There are some great gameplay opportunities lurking in this kind of model.
Especially where information is limited in some way, and there are competing personal goals that are not always clear to all players.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: