Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Game Theory 123

I can't comment on Peter Sarrett's blog (hello, 500 server error), so I'm posting my remarks on "Puzzle Hunt 123" here:

Wei-Hwa said: "Except for the teams at the top, most teams don't realize when they can be meta-event-ing to increase their fun."

I think what's actually happening is that newbie teams, who are less familiar with how puzzle events run, are more likely to adhere to whatever explicit rules have been given. If there are no rules for something--e.g., how often they can ask for hints--they go by their own prejudices or assumptions about the event.

More experienced teams, on the other hand, know more about what happens behind the scenes, and in some cases may even know the event organizers personally. You're much more likely to call your friend for a hint than to call a total stranger who you know only by his or her imposing title of "Game Control."

Both experienced and newbie teams are following the rules as they understand them; it's just that more experienced teams have a better understanding of the unwritten/unspoken rules. There's no way to eliminate that knowledge gap, but GC can do their best to be explicit with the most important stuff and treat everyone fairly and equally.

There have been times when Team Snout was running a Game, and we had to make up a new policy on the spot to deal with something unexpected. We didn't always make the right call, but we had to stick with our decision until the end of the event to be fair to everyone. It's always tough, because the issues that come up are inevitably ones that players care deeply about (in our case, skipping and scoring). But we didn't decide to run a Game because it was easy.

And now for something completely different. :)


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