What Is the Game Theory Problem?


Diego Sanchez

Game theory is a branch of mathematics that deals with decision-making and strategic interactions among multiple players. From economics to political science, game theory has become an essential tool for analyzing and predicting behavior in various fields. However, the game theory problem remains a challenge for researchers who seek to find optimal solutions in complex games.

The Game Theory Problem

The game theory problem refers to the difficulty of finding the best strategy or outcome in games with multiple players. In a game, each player has a set of possible actions and preferences over the outcomes that result from these actions. The goal is to find the best strategy for each player, given their opponents’ strategies.

For example, consider a simple game called “Prisoner’s Dilemma.” In this game, two suspects are arrested for a crime and placed in separate cells.

The police offer each suspect a deal: if one confesses and implicates the other, they will receive a reduced sentence while the other suspect gets a higher sentence. If both suspects confess, then they both receive intermediate sentences. If neither confesses, then they both receive lower sentences.

The dilemma arises from the fact that each suspect’s optimal strategy depends on what their opponent does. If one expects their opponent to confess, it is better to confess as well (to avoid getting a higher sentence). However, if both do so, they will both receive intermediate sentences (which are worse than if neither had confessed).

Solving Games

To solve games like Prisoner’s Dilemma requires finding an equilibrium point where no player can improve their outcome by changing their strategy alone. There are several methods for finding such equilibrium points in different types of games.

One common approach is to use Nash equilibrium – named after John Nash who won Nobel Prize for his contribution in economics- which is defined as a set of strategies where no player can improve their outcome by unilaterally changing their strategy. In the case of Prisoner’s Dilemma, there is only one Nash equilibrium where both suspects confess.

Another approach is to use evolutionary game theory, which models how strategies can evolve over time through a process of natural selection. This approach has been used to explain the emergence of cooperation in social dilemmas like Prisoner’s Dilemma.


Despite its usefulness, game theory has some limitations. One limitation is that it assumes rationality on the part of players – that is, each player knows what they want and acts in their best interest. However, this assumption may not hold in real-world situations where players may have limited information or cognitive biases.

Another limitation is that it only provides a framework for analyzing static games (games with fixed rules and outcomes). In dynamic games (games where outcomes can change over time), finding an equilibrium point becomes more complicated and may require more sophisticated techniques.


In conclusion, the game theory problem remains a challenge for researchers who seek to find optimal solutions in complex games. While game theory provides a useful framework for analyzing strategic interactions among multiple players, it has some limitations that must be considered when applying it to real-world situations. Despite these limitations, game theory continues to be a valuable tool for understanding behavior in various fields and will likely remain so for years to come.