What Is a Cooperative Game Game Theory?


Diego Sanchez

Cooperative game theory is a branch of game theory that studies how people interact in situations where they can work together towards a common goal. In contrast to non-cooperative game theory, where players act independently and in competition with each other, cooperative game theory assumes that players can form coalitions and negotiate with each other to achieve a better outcome.

What is a Cooperative Game?

A cooperative game is defined as a situation where a group of players can achieve more by working together than by acting independently. In such games, players can form coalitions and share resources to achieve a common goal. For example, in a team-based video game, players have to work together to defeat the enemy team or complete an objective.

How Does Cooperative Game Theory Work?

Cooperative game theory studies the ways in which players form coalitions and negotiate with each other to achieve better outcomes. It assumes that the players are rational and will try to maximize their payoff by choosing strategies that are beneficial for themselves and their coalition.

Coalition Formation

The first step in cooperative game theory is coalition formation. Players can form coalitions by agreeing to work together towards a common goal. Once formed, the coalition can negotiate with other coalitions or individual players for resources or rewards.


Negotiation is an essential part of cooperative game theory. Players must agree on how resources will be distributed among the members of the coalition. Negotiation involves finding ways to divide the rewards fairly among the members of the coalition based on their contributions.


The core is an important concept in cooperative game theory. It refers to the set of outcomes that are stable and cannot be improved upon by any coalition without making another member worse off. The core represents a solution concept for cooperative games where all players have an incentive to stay in the coalition and work towards a common goal.

Examples of Cooperative Games

Cooperative games can be found in many different contexts, including economics, politics, and even everyday life. Here are some examples of cooperative games:

  • Team-based video games
  • Group projects in school or work
  • International climate change negotiations
  • Joint ventures between companies
  • Disaster relief efforts involving multiple organizations


Cooperative game theory provides a framework for understanding how people can work together to achieve common goals. By studying how players form coalitions and negotiate with each other, we can gain insights into the dynamics of teamwork and collaboration. Whether it’s in a video game or a real-life situation, cooperative games are an important part of our social interactions and can lead to better outcomes for everyone involved.