Game Stories

25 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2010

See all articles by Carol M. Rose

Carol M. Rose

University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law

Date Written: November 1, 2010


Many scholars of law and economics have taken an interest in game theory. This article, part of a symposium on new developments in law and literature, focuses on the narrative structures of the most standard of the game theory names: Prisoners’ Dilemma, Battle of the Sexes, Chicken, and Stag Hunt. These names tell stories, and the stories breathe life into the game theory matrices that they exemplify. While other names and situations could have illustrated the games’ strategic elements, these standard stories all have a punchy and somewhat macho appeal. The most cited of all is Prisoners’ Dilemma, even though, oddly enough, it is the least punchy and the least macho of all; and even though it blurs with the other stories, particularly when iterated. The article queries the particular appeal of Prisoners’ Dilemma, and concludes that among other things, an offbeat and unfortunately unexplored promise of redemption is one source of the PD story’s great appeal.

Keywords: game theory, law and literature, prisoner's dilemma, stag hunt, chicken, legal storytelling

JEL Classification: K10, K11, K12, C70, Z10

Suggested Citation

Rose, Carol Marguerite, Game Stories (November 1, 2010). Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities, Vol. 22, No. 369, 2010, Arizona Legal Studies Discussion Paper No. 10-38, Available at SSRN:

Carol Marguerite Rose (Contact Author)

University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 210176
Tucson, AZ 85721-0176
United States
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520-621-9140 (Fax)

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