Human Ecology

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 137–150 | Cite as

“Realism” and “relevance” in gaming simulations

  • Anatol Rapoport


How useful are gaming simulations for the study of problems that interest human ecologists? Anatol Rapoport, a principal contributor to the development of game theory, raised this issue with the editors of Human Ecology,who in turn invited him to express his views in print. In brief, Dr. Rapoport calls into question the real-world applicability of gaming simulations, and explores its limitations. The educational function of simulation, he argues, should not be confused with the research aims of laboratory experimentation. The addition of “realistic” conditions in a gaming simulation merely complicates the experiment and reduces its theoretical significance. It does, however, have some pedagogical utility, whose implications have not yet been adequately taken into account. Dr. Rapoport considers this matter with reference to the problem of “social traps,” such as the “tragedy of the commons,” an issue which concerns many human-ecology researchers.

Key words

game theory gaming simulation social traps 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anatol Rapoport
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Höhere StudienWienAustria

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