How Do I Start Learning Game Theory?


Diego Sanchez

Are you interested in learning game theory? It is an exciting topic that has practical applications in a variety of fields, including economics, political science, and even biology.

However, the subject can seem daunting at first glance. Where do you start with game theory? In this article, we’ll break down some key tips for starting your journey into the world of game theory.

What is Game Theory?

Before diving into how to learn game theory, let’s first define what it is. Game theory is the study of strategic decision-making.

It involves analyzing situations where individuals or groups must make decisions that impact not only themselves but also others involved in the situation. The goal of game theory is to understand how different strategies can lead to different outcomes and to identify optimal decision-making strategies.

Step 1: Understand the Basics

Like any subject, it’s important to start with the basics of game theory. Some key concepts to understand include:

  • Game: A situation where two or more individuals or groups are making decisions that affect each other.
  • Players: The individuals or groups involved in a game.
  • Payoff: The outcome each player receives based on their decision and the decisions of others.
  • Nash equilibrium: A situation where no player can improve their outcome by changing their strategy while all other players keep their strategies constant.

Step 2: Read Introductory Texts

Once you have a basic understanding of game theory, it’s time to dive deeper into the subject matter. There are many introductory texts available that cover the fundamentals of game theory in an accessible way. Some popular options include:

  • “Game Theory 101” by William Spaniel: This free online course covers the basics of game theory and includes video lectures and quizzes.
  • “Thinking Strategically” by Avinash Dixit and Barry Nalebuff: This book is a classic introduction to game theory that uses real-world examples to explain key concepts.
  • “An Introduction to Game Theory” by Martin J. Osborne: This textbook provides a comprehensive overview of game theory and includes exercises to test your understanding.

Step 3: Practice with Examples

To truly understand game theory, it’s important to practice with examples. There are many resources available that provide sample games for you to analyze and strategize. Some options include:

  • “The Evolution of Trust” interactive website: This website allows you to play different trust games and see how your strategies compare to others.
  • “Game Theory Explorer” by Nicky Case: This interactive tool allows you to create your own games and analyze them using different strategies.
  • “Gambit” software: This software is a powerful tool for analyzing both simple and complex games.

Step 4: Learn from Experts

Finally, it’s important to learn from experts in the field of game theory. There are many researchers and scholars who have made significant contributions to the subject matter. Some ways to learn from experts include:

  • Read academic papers: Many researchers publish their findings in academic journals, which can be accessed through libraries or online databases.
  • Attend conferences and seminars: Many universities host events where researchers present their work and discuss new developments in the field.
  • Follow experts on social media: Many game theory scholars are active on social media, where they share their research and insights with others.


Learning game theory can seem intimidating at first, but by starting with the basics, reading introductory texts, practicing with examples, and learning from experts, you can build a strong foundation in the subject matter. Good luck on your journey into the world of game theory!