The Game Theory

Looks like I have (finally) found a theoretical solution to my roommate noise phenomena problem. And it comes in the form of Game Theory. Who could have thought?
Readers of this blog will know that for the past month or so I have had to endure the terrible noise of K-Pop and Korean drama coming out of my roommate’s multimedia devices. I have come to the conclusion that now he does not give a shit whether I am in the room or not.

What has perplexed me over the same period of time is his inability to buy a headphone/earphone for himself. In my opinion, this is THE greatest mystery of all time after, of course, the pyramids (who has the answer for this?)  and the “cat crossed the road, oh no!” thing which always screws me over. Damn you cats.

Before I can move on to explain a scenario where game theory applies, I will try and explain what game theory is by trying to explain the classic prisoner’s dilemma example that read about an hour ago. Or rather should I just give you a link to a video? I am actually running out of time. My opportunity cost for not studying economics for tomorrow’s midterm is rather high but come on, who has the stamina to go through 15 chapters in a sitting?


We both are sitting on our tables. I have a horrible looking Principles of Economics book in front of me. My roommate has his laptop in front of him. We both have a certain work to do. While I have to get through some of the most boring chapters written in this world (some are interesting but mostly boring), he has to listen to some shit in Korean.
The Ideal situation would be a co-operative environment where I don’t disturb him and he does not bother me. But since we both work on our self-interests, our own dominant strategies take charge.

His dominant strategy would be to put his Korean shit on loud speaker. That has been the way for several days now and he finds it very comfortable in doing so.
My dominant strategy would be that I would like to read my chapters and summarize to a portrait of DT’s Mike Mangini, which is a bit weird I know, but it helps me memorize and understand boring stuff. And he has that “I understand you look” so its pretty good.
Since we are both influenced by our dominant strategy, he ends up doing what he does best and I end up doing my Mike Mangini thing.

Result: We both end up disturbing one another. Eye for an eye.

It so happens it’s the same reason why OPEC can’t keep their oil prices high, the same reason why there’s never ending talk of nuclear disarmament. The latter one being of much interest. Ideally if everyone was to disarm themselves, everyone would have been safe. But since everyone works for their own interest, everyone’s now in danger.

The same thing applies to our room’s scenario. I could have quite easily knocked him on the back and gave my headphones but since I thought he had the sense to think about it before I didn’t bother to do so. Reversely, he could have quite easily asked me for my headphones and we would both been in a win-win situation. But since forces of self-interest took place, the eye for an eye solution took out it’s ugly head to dominate.

And so it has been proven. The book claims that tit-for-tat strategy  is a good rule of thumb that does not allow you to be in a disadvantaged position but also does not allow you to be in an ideal position. Time to get my speakers.

But before I can get back to reading my final chapter, I have come to appreciate the truth in the act of self-interest.  Everyone works for their self-interest. When Halal refused to sign the paper for the campaign we had, it was because he was working in his self-interest and that he wanted us to go through the same pain he had to endure while he took the course. Makes sense.

Same goes with me. When I work, I work with my own self-interest. For instance, I love giving gifts. Giving is unselfish act but then I do have self-interest embedded in it. Since I see that the person receiving the gift is happy, it makes me happy so basically I am working on my own self-interest to keep me happy. Well, the case where I give my professors gifts is entirely out of vested interests but for most part, its clean.