I'm a Java programmer interested to learn games on Java, recently I looked on a book on Operations Research written by Wayne L.Winston. There is a topic on Game Theory.

It's truly mathematical. I'm just an app developer, but would that book be helpful to start a game career?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Game theory isn't about actual games. It's about modeling human behavior and people's interaction with each other as if it were a game that everyone is trying to win (by providing mathematical definitions of "winning" and of the rules) and using basic mathematical and economic principles to draw sociological conclusions from it. \$\endgroup\$ – Mason Wheeler Oct 10 '12 at 22:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ this is a great book for practical game theory: amazon.com/The-Compleat-Strategyst-Complete-Strategist/dp/… \$\endgroup\$ – Ray Tayek Oct 11 '12 at 0:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Game Theory talks about how people make decisions when there is uncertainty, which is exactly what you want your players to be doing when playing your game. This is more about game design than game programming, both fall under game development which this site doesn't seem to understand for some reason. \$\endgroup\$ – Joey Green Nov 11 '12 at 2:18

The game in game theory and game development are not talking about the same kind of games. Game theory is mainly used in economics and political science. Sounds like the book you were reading was about business strategy?

I would say it's more accurate to say that game theory can be applied to computer science and the development of logical theories related to high level algorithms. But studying game theory will not necessarily help you become a better game developer.

  • \$\begingroup\$ well any books could you reccomend please? \$\endgroup\$ – Rand Mate Oct 10 '12 at 16:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd recommend reading tutorials for Java game development. This site is not about recommending specific books or where to get started. You're welcome to ask in chat or ask on a site like gamedev.net. \$\endgroup\$ – MichaelHouse Oct 10 '12 at 17:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Byte56: Wouldn't game development include game design( game developers magazine does) and I think game theory applies to game design. gamersinfo.net/articles/… blog.wolfire.com/2009/01/game-theory-applied-to-game-design \$\endgroup\$ – Joey Green Nov 9 '12 at 21:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JoeyGreen Game theory applies to a great number of disciplines. Including game design. The articles you link appear to show that game theory is only for the high level algorithms for game design, like I mention in my answer. Even so, the question was about game development, not game design. \$\endgroup\$ – MichaelHouse Nov 10 '12 at 15:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmm, not really. Game Theory has everything to do with game mechanics. There's this idea of game economies that game theory can influence the design of. This book amazon.com/Game-Mechanics-Advanced-Design-Voices/dp/0321820274/… talks about how to model a game economy using machinations. Game Development = game programming + game design + game < >. Also, if high level algorithms is the same as game rules in your book then you're correct. \$\endgroup\$ – Joey Green Nov 11 '12 at 2:15

Most of the games in game theory wouldn't make very good video games. For example, one game goes something like this:

There are people bidding on $100. The rules are if you win you pay what you bid and get the $100. If you're in second you also pay what you bid but you don't get anything. A pretty boring game and if the bids go over $100 both people lose.

The kind of things you'd learn in game theory would probably apply more to thinking about how a player might approach your game rather than help development. Since I feel like the other posts have already established that it wouldn't really be beneficial, altough its pretty interesting if you're into that kind of thing, I'll talk about maths that might be helpful.

Linear algebra is a must, mostly because it's used in a lot of other branches of math, including game theory. It's the kind of math I've run into the most when developing games. I imagine if one got into engine development this kind of math would be even more relavant. It's also more useful in 3D games as opposed to 2D.

Combinatorial maths could be helpful. Especially for probability. Also Combinatorial game theory is about games but exclusively turn based and generally the games are simple.

Discrete probability is also useful. I haven't really seen too much continuous stuff but discrete things come up quite often and might actually cut back on testing time. Basically any time you use random numbers you'd use probability. Sometimes it's pretty basic but who knows, sometimes probability problems look a lot less involved than they actually are.

And I imagine if you were to develop a physics engine Calculus would be used but I don't know anything about engine development.


There is a relationship, as game theory is also known as "interactive decision theory" (Wikipedia), but it's an extremely complex subject and you would probably be better off starting down a more traditional path.

Basically, yes it would be helpful, but there are arguably "better" ways to start game development, like studying the fundamentals of computer science.

  • \$\begingroup\$ well any books could you reccomend please? \$\endgroup\$ – Rand Mate Oct 10 '12 at 16:42

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