Game Theory and the Infinite Game

In his podcast, Akimbo, Seth Godin teaches us how to adopt a posture of possibility, change the culture, and choose to make a difference. Here are my takeaways from the episode.

  • We all games, and we play games all the time. Accepting the fact and understanding that we are in the game can help us play better.
  • Games get played because they offer something scarce. Scarcity causes people to play games to obtain it. The scarcity and game feed off each other and ratchet up.
  • Finite games get played because people play them voluntarily. Finite games also have definitive beginning/ending, teammates/opponents, boundaries, rules of engagement.
  • One way to introduce changes to the world is to look at the rules of the game and see whether one of the rules can be changed. When one rule is relaxed, there is a possibility to change the game.
  • When competing for the scarce resource in a game, know the rules and do the math. Don’t complain about a game being rigged because you did not do your homework to understand the game in the first place.
  • We, on average, don’t like to play the game in a cut-throat way. People want to be part of a community and play to stay in the game.
  • When we think of the world as a finite environment, we are more inclined to play the finite games. If we think of the world as an ever-expanding environment, we can do a better, smarter game playing with finite games.
  • With infinite games, we play to play, not play to win scarcity. We get past the short-term thinking, feed the community, and pay it forward to the community to help it grow. It is the only game we got.
  • Can we then play the infinite game and do it with fellow travelers who happen to be on the same journey?
  • We don’t play the infinite game, so we can win at another finite game. We play the infinite game because it can lead to a better future for all participants in the game.