Monday, January 06, 2014

0/-0;+/- Part 2

Open and closed systems.
Let's go back to Monopoly.  It's a classic zero-sum game.  But it can absolutely be played in either a closed or open system. In a closed system, nothing exists beyond the game.  The other players are faceless, meaningless. You can play as ruthlessly as you want, you can cheat, and all that matters is who wins and who loses.

The game is completely different in an open system (and, in real life, almost everything is an open system).  You play this game with your friends.  They will continue to be your friends after the game... maybe.  Because if you cross certain lines in the game, it will affect your friendships.

Systems are open along the time line.  Things that happened before will affect how you deal with the present situation.  In a closed system you would not be able to watch videos of your opponent before a fight.  You would not know your friend's strengths and weaknesses before the Monopoly game.

At the other end of the time line, each fight alters your reputation, which affects all of your future fights.  The personality that comes out in a competitive game informs your friends how you deal with competition, lets them know if, in other areas of your life, you are a poor loser or a gracious winner.

In a closed system, gathering intelligence is quick, spur-of-moment stuff.  Spotting tells in a poker game with strangers. In an open system, gathering intelligence, especially reading people and relationships becomes a habit.  You cannot know in advance which details will be critical at crunch time, but you can pick up a lot.

Time is linear.  There is also a breadth (for want of a better word) to open/closed.  In the real world, things are rarely only one thing.  My third chess game with K was a flat-out seduction. (Hmmmm, the Czech mate puns). Ring fighting happens in a venue where if it's not exciting, people don't make money.  Self-defense happens in a world with laws and, more physically, in a context where almost everything also has social or relationship implications.  In other words, someone trying to get you to a secondary crime scene may be less of a physical problem (how do I take him out) than a social problem (how do I draw attention?). Social dynamics, communication, terrain, history... in complex systems, almost everything can be manipulated.

So how does strategy change? In a closed system, the 'win at all costs' mentality makes sense. Much of our ethics, sportsmanship for example, recognizes that this is an open system.  In a closed system, you can cheat (or not cheat but be a dick) and no one knows or reacts.  In an open system, either no one wants to play or people line up to teach you a lesson.

In a closed system, you only need to master one set of simple rules.  In an open system, the more variables you can see and manipulate, the more you can do. (The seduction chess match, btw, is the only time I've ever won a game against her.  She was playing a closed system, I wasn't.)

Just as some people mistakenly think things are zero-sum and play or fight accordingly a few live like it was a closed system.  Very few things are.  I find it most often in high functioning autistics.  The rules of Monopoly, as an example, are easy to grasp, clear-- but they don't realize it is a bonding experience as well.  So they stay within the rules but burn friends and honestly don't understand why performance at one thing affects the other.

Hmmm.  Come to think of it, I always thought budget meetings were a waste of time because it was just a number I could send by e-mail... that was probably a planned bonding experience as well.

2 comments:

Josh K. said...

"Just as some people mistakenly think things are zero-sum and play or fight accordingly a few live like it was a closed system.  Very few things are.  I find it most often in high functioning autistics.  The rules of Monopoly, as an example, are easy to grasp, clear-- but they don't realize it is a bonding experience as well.  So they stay within the rules but burn friends and honestly don't understand why performance at one thing affects the other."

Erik Kondo said...

Imagine someone is in the business of selling a self-defense product (weapon or methodology of instruction that provides a solution), it is in their best interest to promote personal-protection as a Closed Zero-Sum System.

In order for his or her Product to be effective it must handle the “variables” of the System. The fewer variables, less factors, minimal consequences in the Simple Closed System, the easier it is for said Product to “handle” the System.

Therefore, by exploiting the person’s fears and beliefs in relation to an envisioned Closed Zero-Sum Simple System, he or she can be sold a Product that provides a solution “everytime”. The problem is that personal-protection as a whole is an Open Non-Zero-Sum System, but specific instances/events can be viewed as Closed-Zero-Sum.

Thus many are led to buy a Product that works for a specific Closed Zero-Sum situation with the erroneous belief that the Product also works for the entire Open Non-Zero-Sum world of personal protection.