A Definition of a Biological / Cultural Game

“A game is a skill-based exercise of purposeful agents in a dynamically coupled, self-regulating (feedback control) environment, constrained by a distinctive set of procedures, rules, standards/norms and practices, where there is a valued resource or resources at stake, where there is uncertainty and risk, and where the objective of each agent is to attain a polarized disequilibrium or equilibrium of those resources – either cooperatively or competitively – through strategic decisions and actions (‘moves’).”

Deep Games

One measure of game ‘depth’ is the extent to which the resources and the risks engage the center or periphery of one’s existential ‘meaning framework’ (in the broader ‘meaning maintenance model’ sense).

Another measure of game ‘depth’ is the extent to which the resources and risks engage one’s implicit, biologically grounded motives.

Games can be played out both consciously with deliberation and self-awareness, or unconsciously, particularly when they engage implicit motives.

Game Playing Within Institutions and Relationship to Common Ground

  • Institutional laws, agreements, policies, contracts, ‘systems’. Codified common ground.
  • Institution-wide common, mutually acknowledged and normatively binding understanding. Non-codified common ground.

Generally 1 and 2 are mutually supporting.

Enculturation into an institution aims at converging onto common ground – and mutual understanding.

  • Non-codified common ground ‘negotiated’ on a case-by-case basis, not necessarily compatible with the ‘institutional’ policies or practices – ‘private agreements’.
  • Covert, competitive-cooperative, common ground evading, codes of conduct and communication – between individuals or groups.