Playing to Win: an Introduction to Game Theory

at Brooklyn Institute for Social Research - Brooklyn

Course Details
$315 3 seats left
Start Date:

Wed, Jan 29, 6:30pm - Feb 19, 9:30pm (4 sessions)

68 Jay St
Btwn Water & Front Streets
Brooklyn, New York 11201
Purchase Options
Class Level: Beginner
Age Requirements: 21 and older
Average Class Size: 14
Teacher: Raphaele Chappe

What you'll learn in this literature class:

From zero-sum games and the “prisoner’s dilemma” to rational actors and the Nash equilibrium, game theory has grown from a bold conjecture into a deeply influential mode of analysis in political science, economics, psychology, business, mathematics, and even military strategy. Based on a theory of simple card games developed by John Von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern, game theory seeks to use these game situations to model human, computer, and even animal behavior and has been employed everywhere from WWII-era anti-aircraft weapons to contemporary algorithmic design for smart phones and internet platforms. Grounded in the premise that we can know, discover, or model rational decision making processes in situations of interdependent strategic interaction, game theory has often been proposed as a kind of “unified field theory” for the social sciences. Yet empirical studies often complicate this towering ambition. What are the uses and abuses of game theory especially when we confront its possible computational, social, and psychological limits?

In this class, we will study the basic concepts of game theory (cooperative and non-cooperative games, zero or non-zero sum, dominant strategies, best responses, Nash equilibria) and examine a selection of classic games while surveying a wide range of applications to understand how game theory models social behavior. Students will also examine more recent, cutting-edge work–for instance, attempts to explain the emergence of cooperative behavior and social norms, and to adopt greater realism in the description of human agency. Readings will include extracts from Schelling’s classic The Strategy of Conflict (1960) and Micromotives and Macrobehavior (1978), as well as Dixit and Nalebuff’s The Art of Strategy (2008). What are the assumptions about rationality and calculation that underlie game theoretical thinking? To what extent does game theory inform social inquiry? Finally, how does the application of game theory transform not just ideas about human subjects but human subjectivity itself?


There *is* no physical Brooklyn Institute. We hold our classes all over (thus far) Brooklyn and Manhattan, in alternative spaces ranging from the back rooms of bars to bookstores to spaces in cultural centers, including the Center for Jewish History, the Goethe-Institut, and the Barnard Center for Research on Women. 

We can (and do) turn any space into a classroom. You will be notified of the exact location when you register for a class.

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Refund Policy
Upon request, we will refund the entire cost of a class up until 1 week before its start date. Students who withdraw after that point but before the first class are entitled to a 75% refund. After the first class: 50%. After the second: 25%. No refunds will be given after the third class.


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Start Dates (1)
Start Date Time Teacher # Sessions Price
6:30pm - 9:30pm Raphaele Chappe 4 $315
This course consists of multiple sessions, view schedule for sessions.
Wed, Feb 05 6:30pm - 9:30pm Raphaele Chappe
Wed, Feb 12 6:30pm - 9:30pm Raphaele Chappe
Wed, Feb 19 6:30pm - 9:30pm Raphaele Chappe

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School: Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research was established in 2011 in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Its mission is to extend liberal arts education and research far beyond the borders of the traditional university, supporting community education needs and opening up new possibilities for scholarship in the...

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