Pop Culture

Game theory in film, music, and fiction.


Game theory in fiction and popular books

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cover The Mind Game
Hector Macdonald
Ben partakes in a groundbreaking experiment on human emotions, convinced by his Oxford professor. The text contains many references to game theory and the prisoner's dilemma, as well as a caution against assuming everything is a zero sum game.
>> read about how this relates to game theory
cover Enduring Love
Ian McEwan
A four player prisoner's dilemma inspires an introspective monologue about selfishness, social good, and cooperation.
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cover Jurassic Park
Michael Crichton
Ian Malcolm brings wit and chaos theory to the world of dinosaurs, noting that "you forget that they are alive, that they have an intelligence of their own." A mathematician at the University of Texas at Austin makes several veiled references to game theory. Amazon
cover A Beautiful Mind
Sylvia Nasar
A biography of John Nash, the Nobel Prize winning economist and creator of the eponymous equilibrium notion. Written by the New York Times economics correspondent.
Review at Salon, SIAM News
cover The Godfather
Mario Puzo
The classic Mafia story includes many examples of commitment, including taking hostages to ensure the safety of rival Families.
>> read about how this relates to game theory
cover The Royal Game
Stefan Zweig
In no other work does the game of chess take on symbolism of Nazism, schizophrenia, and fate. "But are we not already guilty of an insulting limitation in calling chess a game? Isn't it also a science, and art?" Amazon
cover Prey
Michael Crichton
Some emailed that the book contains (as yet unidentified) game-theoretic themes. Amazon
cover Split Infinity
Piers Anthony
To stay in the science fiction world of Proton, Stiles must master The Game, which actually consists of many, many games. Amazon
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