Pop Culture

Game theory in film, music, and fiction.


Game Theory (the band)

Members of the pop band Game Theory, formed in 1981, were Asked by a reporter how they came up with the name. Member Scott Miller, who formed the band while studying towards a degree in electrical engineering, replied

Well, game theory is a real theory; there's this thing called game theory. It's a theory of probability that's a mathematical discipline that more or less has been applied improperly to real-life situations. It's just that idea of a set or rules that gets misused that intrigued me about it. I was reading how it was used in cold war strategies and all sorts of high-level things like that, with no particular record of success. And I just thought it was kind of a negative comment, really, but kind of a telling comment on life in general -- that you just have to have some sort of set of rules, but who knows what the set of rules should be. You just sort of make up what you can and go with it.

Notably, most members previously belonged to a band named "Alternative Learning," perhaps foreshadowing future song titles such as "Bad Year at UCLA."

A further sampling of quotes:

"Always be wary of the superstructure of whatever situation you're in. It may just be that the whole game that you're into is something very bogus and you should get out."
- Scott Miller of Game Theory

Asked whether people will understand the obtuse references in their songs, Scott Miller replies,

Every now and then someone will get a couple; well, it seems like everybody gets a couple. Some people will know the old Game Theory things. There are even some computer science things in there, for people who know about computer science.

The attentive listener will find many more references to David Lynch and to Stanley Kubrick than to the theory of games.