The Interaction of Personality and Mathematics in Games or Real-World Modeling
Steven Steer
United States
Arkadelphia
Arkansas
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This is a feeble attempt to explain why I am a gamer. Maybe someone else can relate.

I love games for two main reasons. Psychology and math. I have an undergraduate in each, and games have a lot to offer in both categories.

Varying personalities, and the interaction between them, is fascinating. You can learn so much from a person simply by playing a game with him. Learning to accept, adapt, and successfully interchange with each person makes each game unique and enthralling.

Mathematical 'solving', with little exception, is not an absolute in gaming due mainly to two factors. First, chance or luck ensures that there are variables that cannot be absolutely controlled or predicted (though calculating odds is vital). This creates a real-world simulation of risk and risk management. Second, as mentioned above, is personality. Like luck, certain aspects of a person's thought patterns and actions can be analyzed, but not completely.

Throw in the interactions between these personalities, risk, how each personality responds and reacts to risk, and a slew of other seemingly chaotic variables, and you have exactly what I love about gaming.

In essence, I feel that (for me at least) the most successful games are those that model the human experience elegantly and-at least to some extent-accurately.

This may be harder to see in abstract games, but it is definitely a factor.

In the short time that I've been a gamer, I've found only a few games that are highly successful (IMO) at this. I'm sure there are more out there.

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1. Board Game: Modern Art [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:227]
Steven Steer
United States
Arkadelphia
Arkansas
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I can't explain exactly why I love this game so much, except for what I've stated in the introduction. I keep searching for a viable strategy here: Bid EV-1 ? Seems mathematically correct, but wait! There are so many other factors. Does the group bid high or low? Will 'Johnny" push this round to further his own values on Lite or end it to take his profit from Gitter? On and on and on it goes.

So mysterious, so mathematical; it's logical and illogical all at the same time.
 
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2. Board Game: Shazamm! [Average Rating:6.21 Overall Rank:3654]
Cédric Junillon
France
Lausanne (Switzerland) or Lyon (France)
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Well this is it...

The principle of mathematical game theory added with brainbusting situations marinated with "how will he react? will he play this card or this one?" and that mind-reading spice.
 
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3. Board Game: Bohnanza [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:367]
Steven Steer
United States
Arkadelphia
Arkansas
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I'll add one more, but I have to admit that my 'top list' of games described in my intro. are few.

Bohnanza seems to exemplify the interactions of different personalities (trading, negotiating, communication types, decision making, etc...), along with simple mathematical calculating (probability).

Absolutely love this game, though it is second to Modern Art.
 
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4. Board Game: Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:414]
Steven Steer
United States
Arkadelphia
Arkansas
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Ok...one more.

LOTR Confrontation breaks the elements described in the introduction down to basic components. I love the psychology in this one-a real nail biter. Not really much overt math in this one, but still an excellent and intense game.
 
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5. Board Game: Dungeon Twister [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:762]
Cédric Junillon
France
Lausanne (Switzerland) or Lyon (France)
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I think this one is pretty much what you expect as well... Very calculatory, but the same psychology aspect during fights as in LoTR: The confrontation and trying to predict theopponent's strategy...
 
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6. Board Game: Citadels [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:316]
Ben Hyde
United States
Minneapolis
Minnesota
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This game is wonderful for the psychology aspect. It's arguably a little light on the mathmatics but it's still a lot of fun.

The card drafting and bluffing aspect of this game keeps you analyzing the players. Who did they take? What is in their own best interest at this particular point of the game? People always have their own unique patterns of play.

The mathematics involved is (more or less) simply deduction. However, it's a pleasurable game and one can really get a feel for a group of people by playing.
 
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7. Board Game: Niagara [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:1093]
steve s
United States
Sacramento
California
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To me, this game displays what you are talking about. Psychologically, my wife and I have different playing styles. She plays to have fun; I play to win. She doesnt understand why I will gleefully send all the canoes flying over the waterfall with an evil laugh, and I don't understand why she won't consider stealing gems more often. Mathimatically, this game is more rich than it appears. Choosing which paddle card to play requires consideration of which other cards are likely to be played, what speed the river is moving at, and how the played number will be used to move two canoes successfully.
 
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8. Board Game: Magic: The Gathering [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:156] [Average Rating:7.45 Unranked]
S. Deniz Bucak
United States
Havertown
Pennsylvania
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Many people here don't like it, but I think Magic meets your criteria. There's probability theory involved in building a deck and calculating how likely a card is to be drawn before you get killed. Bluffing is certainly involved as well as judging how aggressive your opponent is. Different kinds of deck often refect the personality of the player. And there's also the trivial math of figuring out if you can kill your opponent with a particular move or if a move will get you killed.
 
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