Reading Notes 2 – Charlotte Hayden

DMA 157 Reading Notes #2: Chapters 11-19

  1. Banagram’s rules may be identified as follows:

Operational rules: All of the letters are placed face down on a table. Each player is given seven random letters and everyone will reveal their letters at the same time. Players must then create words using those seven letters. When a player uses all their letters, they say “Peel” and everyone must take an additional letter – this is repeated each time a player uses all of their letters. If a player wants to switch a letter, they must say “Switch” or “Swap” and take three letters for every one they swap. The game continues until all of the available letters are gone and someone uses all of their letters.

Constitutive rules: Each player receives seven letters. At a “Peel”, each player gains an additional letter. The individual also has the option of swapping out one letter and gaining three, or trying to rearrange their words to fit the difficult letters in.

Implicit rules: Players must not ruin each other’s word formations. During a swap, players must be honest and take all three letters for every single one they return. Each player must also take an additional letter when someone else calls a peel, no matter how behind you may be. Players also cannot make words up in order to use letters; words must be real and in the Scrabble dictionary.

  1. I believe randomness – in the form of drawing a card or rolling a die – challenges players to make strategic and meaningful decisions from the random draw they’ve received. Players must use what they have to make the best choices that will help them win the game.
  2. Backgammon was extremely enjoyable. The game is essentially based on randomness, because the player’s moves are determined by what numbers they get after rolling two die, but they are able to decide how to split up or combine the numbers in order to make the most effective moves to either trap, block, or pass their opponents. Even though the randomness of rolling the die is a major part of the game, it is still very strategic and the movements can be very calculated (given the player is not simply moving random pieces).
  3. A negative feedback loop can be seen in the game Bananagram when a player receives either one or three additional letters (either from a Peel or Swap) and must immediately try to create words with them in order to use them up. In this sense, players try to maintain a low number of unused letters (ideally one to zero), and balance their usage versus gain. A positive feedback loop might be demonstrated in Monopoly when someone accumulates far too much debt is forced to sell their properties and eventually loses the game due to creating their own little economic depression.
  4. Zero-sum game: When each player’s gains or losses are mathematically balanced; the outcomes are equal for both players

Saddle point: The most balanced outcomes two players can reach; an equilibrium point that results from two beneficial decisions

Prisoner’s dilemma: The overall description of the game theory conflict, which uses a diagram (either Venn or a grid) to show the outcomes of decisions made by two “rational” players or individuals that might not want to cooperate with each other when asked to make a decision