Evolutionary Game Theory - Rock Scissors Paper Game

Rock Scissors Paper Game

An evolutionary game that actually turns out to be a children’s game is rock-paper-scissors. The game is simple – rock bests scissors (blunts it), scissors bests paper (cuts it), and paper bests rock (wraps it up). Anyone who has ever played this simple game knows that it is not sensible to have any favoured play – your opponent will soon notice this and switch to the winning counter-play. The best strategy (a Nash equilibrium) is to play a mixed random game with any of the three plays taken a third of the time. This, in EGT terms, is a mixed strategy. But many lifeforms are incapable of mixed behavior — they only exhibit one strategy (known as a “pure” strategy”). If the game is played only with the pure Rock, Scissor and Paper strategies the evolutionary game is dynamically unstable: Rock mutants can enter an all scissor population, but then – Paper mutants can take over an all Rock population, but then – Scissor mutants can take over an all Paper population – and on and on…. This is easily seen on the game payoff matrix, where if the paths of mutant invasion are noted, it can be seen that the mutant "invasion paths" form into a loop. This in triggers a cyclic invasion behaviour.

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