I still exist. Just buried in a new project and a very interesting course...
I've been taking Howard Rheingold's course Toward a Literacy of Cooperation, and this past week's readings and conversation were on the topic of social dilemmas, best described by The Prisoners' Dilemma and similar multi-party games.
One exercise was for us to play some Prisoners' Dilemma games available on the net and describe what we thought. The games were
- Game Theory.net - Lets you play five different styles of computer player.
- Serendip from Bryn Mawr - Pits you against Serendip to see who can come out on top.
- The Iterated Prisoners Dilemma - a simulation that does all the work for you against many different strategies.
It was strange, going into the games with the knowledge of the basic strategies (tit-for-tat, etc) because I automatically went for the strategies that the research suggested were generally the better strategies. So, I started generous and usually stayed generous the entire time. Even when I intentionally started with "defect," I quickly switched to cooperate because I felt guilty - and it was only playing with/against a computer program who didn't care at all. However, when the computer started playing "dirty" and obviously not following my lead, I went to the other extreme and went for "defect" all the way. Unfortunately, when the computer didn't play nice, I generally lost much more than I won. The computer beat me in those situations.
I also want to mention that I started to watch the video The strangest split or steal ever. I am obviously not the target market for a show like that because once I understood the setup, I could not stand the rediculous tension-building blather from the host. I ended up turning it off halfway through and I am not terribly curious about the strangeness of it.