What Is Game Theory Characteristics?


Martha Robinson

Game theory is an essential branch of mathematics that deals with analyzing the strategic decision-making process in situations where multiple individuals or entities are involved. It has significant applications in many fields, including economics, political science, psychology, and sociology. The theory helps in understanding how people make decisions and how they interact with each other to achieve their objectives.

Characteristics of Game Theory:

  • Interdependence: Game theory involves analyzing strategic interactions between two or more individuals or entities who have interdependent preferences and objectives. The outcome of a game depends not only on the actions of one player but also on the actions of other players.
  • Rationality: Game theory assumes that all players are rational and have a clear understanding of their objectives. Rationality means that each player chooses their actions based on what they think will maximize their payoff.
  • Incomplete Information: In many real-world situations, players do not have complete information about the strategies, preferences, and objectives of other players.

    This creates uncertainty and increases the complexity of the game.

  • Payout Matrix: A payout matrix is a table that shows the payoffs for each combination of strategies played by two players. It is a crucial element in game theory because it helps to determine the best strategy for each player.
  • Nash Equilibrium: Nash equilibrium is a concept in game theory where each player chooses their optimal strategy given the strategies chosen by other players. It is a stable state where no player can gain by changing their strategy unilaterally.

Types of Games:

There are several types of games analyzed under game theory:

  • Cooperative Games: In cooperative games, players can cooperate and form coalitions to achieve their objectives. Examples of cooperative games include bargaining and negotiation.
  • Non-Cooperative Games: In non-cooperative games, players cannot form coalitions, and each player acts independently. Examples of non-cooperative games include the prisoner’s dilemma and the stag hunt game.
  • Zero-Sum Games: In zero-sum games, the total payoff for all players is zero. This means that any gain by one player is offset by an equal loss by another player.

    Examples of zero-sum games include chess and poker.

  • Non-Zero-Sum Games: In non-zero-sum games, the total payoff for all players is not necessarily zero. It means that there can be a win-win or lose-lose situation for all players involved. Examples of non-zero-sum games include the battle of the sexes game and the matching pennies game.


In conclusion, game theory is a powerful tool that helps in understanding strategic interactions between individuals or entities. Game theory assumes rationality on the part of all players and involves analyzing incomplete information to determine the best strategy for each player.

There are several types of games analyzed under game theory, including cooperative games, non-cooperative games, zero-sum games, and non-zero-sum games. Understanding game theory can help in making better decisions in various real-world situations such as business negotiations or political decision-making processes.