An Introduction to Game Theory

“Game Theory”, or the science of strategy, is a big topic that leads in many fascinating directions. This post will provide a basic understanding of what Game Theory is, and how it can be utilised in management situations. In addition to providing my own course material, I have also attempted to tie into some of the amazing resources that already exist.

My advice for you is to watch this video, and then choose one (or more) of the additional readings.

The handouts for my lecture slides are here (note there is some additional content compared to the version in the video). If you are an instructor then email and I’ll send you the raw powerpoint file (containing surprises and solutions). I like to follow a lecture on Game Theory with the following classroom exercise:

  • Beckman, S. R., “Cournot and Bertrand games” Journal of Economic Education, Vol.34, No.1, pp.27-35 (see here for the handouts, email me for a Teaching Note).
  • I also utilise the following at the start and end of the Game Theory lecture: Oligopoly Game 42 and “Cheating for a $20” (email me for the Teaching Note)

Additional readings

Here are some recommendations, depending on your level of interest and time constraints:

But the Game Theorist’s “bible” is Thinking Strategically” by Dixit, A., and Nalebuff, B (Norton, 1993). This is the one book you need to read, re-read, and master.


Finally, it is great fun to apply Game Theory to popular culture. See Michael Statsny’s discussion of game theory in movies, and a collection of popular cultural references. Here are some of my favourite discussion questions:

I also like these two classic clips from Goldenballs:

This is part of my online course on Analytics.

One thought on “An Introduction to Game Theory

  1. fractalecho

    It’s been years since I gave this subject serious attention and I’m certain I never read Think Strategically. It’s an addictive subject that can burn you out if you’re not careful.

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