What Is Game Theory and Why Is It Useful?


Vincent White

Game theory is a mathematical approach used to study decision-making in situations involving multiple parties. It was first introduced by mathematician John von Neumann and economist Oskar Morgenstern in their 1944 book “Theory of Games and Economic Behavior”. Game theory is applied in various fields including economics, political science, psychology, biology, and computer science.

What is game theory?

Game theory is a framework for understanding how people make decisions in situations where their outcomes depend on the actions of others. It involves studying the strategies that players use to achieve their goals and the outcomes that result from those strategies.

Types of games

There are two main types of games studied in game theory: cooperative games and noncooperative games. In cooperative games, players work together to achieve a common goal. In noncooperative games, players act independently to achieve their own goals.

Why is game theory useful?

Game theory provides a tool for analyzing complex situations where the outcome depends on the actions of multiple parties. It helps researchers understand why people behave the way they do in certain situations and predict what might happen if they change their behavior.

Applications of game theory

Game theory has been applied in various fields including:


Economists use game theory to study markets, pricing strategies, and competition between firms. Game theory helps them understand how companies make decisions about pricing and advertising and how consumers respond to those decisions.

Political Science

Game theory is used in political science to study voting behavior, electoral competition, and international relations. It helps researchers understand how countries interact with each other and why some countries are more successful than others at achieving their goals.


Biologists use game theory to study animal behavior such as mating patterns, predator-prey relationships, and cooperation among individuals. It helps them understand why certain behaviors have evolved and how they benefit the survival of the species.

Computer Science

Game theory is used in computer science to study algorithms and artificial intelligence. It helps researchers develop programs that can make decisions based on incomplete or uncertain information.


In conclusion, game theory is a powerful tool for understanding decision-making in situations involving multiple parties. Its applications are diverse and wide-ranging, making it an essential field of study for researchers across many disciplines. Whether you’re an economist, political scientist, biologist, or computer scientist, game theory can help you gain valuable insights into the behavior of individuals and groups.