(i) Suggest briefly, in your own words, some of the similarities and differences between taking part in politics and playing a game. (If you can, try to make additional points to those mentioned in the lecture notes.)
(ii) Organize a group of your friends to play the game ‘Primitive Politics’. Do NOT play the game with real money. Use money from a Monopoly set, or make your own. Play a number of rounds of the game. Afterwards discuss with the participants the strategies they adopted.
Describe the various strategies adopted by players. Which strategy was followed by the player who won in your game? Do you think that other players might have defeated someone playing this strategy? If so, how? If not, why not? What do you think playing this game teaches us about politics?
Constraints and Rules
Politics is framed from the Greek word ‘polis’, which provides the city-state or group of citizens (Young, 2011). The term politics implied conducting public affairs of citizens living together in a city. It provides general set of rules that people makes and might change in order to live accordance to it. Some sociologists view politics as being an avenue for conflict resolution or responding to a conflict. The theories are based on the thought that politics arises as there is conflict amongst people hence it involves certain struggles with the opposing side. Though politics initially was limited to country but has now been extended to include club politics, office politics and so on (Buchanan, 2008). Politics currently views as exercising control or influence over others. The scope of the current discussion includes discussing similarities and differences between politics and playing of a game.
Politics includes a state of conduct that is determined for people living in a place. Politics has positive as well as negative image to itself. Game is described as an activity having network of complicated similarities that are overlapping and criss-crossing with each other (Brams, 2011).
Andrew Heywood defined politics as being an activity which people undertakes preserves and also changes rules with which they live. While the concept of politics and games is distinct in characteristics however there are certain similarities as well. Games can include card board games, card games, Olympic Games and ball games. In order to call an activity as game, there must be something that lies in common. The similarities between politics and games is the acceptance of constraints, the role of rules or conventions, conflict or struggle with winners and losers, cooperation and a central place for rationality and strategy (Aalberg, Strömbäck & De Vreese, 2012). It has been observed that participants in games as well as in politics remain constrained as specific set of affairs through usage of rules. In both cases in breaking down of constraints, there remains no regard for either games or politics. As in case of a war in case no one attacks until both sides are ready for war, similarly in games there are constraints were both sides’ starts only when they are ready.
Secondly, accepting constraints allows accommodation of rules. In order to play a game riles has to be followed, in politics there are rules within a political constitution. There are rule that govern political appointments too. A game needs to be learned along with its conventions or rules similarly politics also has certain conventions that needs to be learned. Moreover, in politics there is a certain way in which individual speaks or policies are adopted.
Conflict and Cooperation
Conflict or struggle is present in politics and game both. In politics, participants often struggle to reach their end goals within various constraints (Buchanan & Badham, 2008). Then there emerge winners and losers. Similarly games also involve competitions where players struggle to win. Within conflicts in game and politics, there is cooperation as well. As games are often played in partnership and in politics too, participants work with one another to form collation and parties. Another major similarity between games and politics is that games need reasons for defeating of opponents. In politics one can be ahead of opponents by using of clever and wittiness (Karp & Banducci, 2008). Outwitting is considered to be central in politics and can lead to becoming a successful politician.
Differences amongst politics and games include seriousness and necessity and choice. A serious distinction that exists between games and politics is seriousness. Whereas politics is a more serious business, playing game is considered more general in nature. Politicians make decisions pertaining to war, economic future, public services and many other aspects that impacts lives of people directly (Evrenk, 2011). Whereas games has been seen to be associated with leisure time activities. Secondly, considering the difference between playing game and taking part in politics, it can be said that game playing is optional whereas politics cannot be deemed as avoidable. In games obstacles faced is deemed to be voluntary and can easily be overcome. Politics needs conflict resolution that is faced from struggles and cannot be avoided.
In the game of Primitive Politics, there were five players each of whom deposited 20,000 of unreal money to one of the players God. After God started the game by depositing all the cash in the Trough, the game started (Laver, 1979). All of the participants adopted strategies thinking what the other opponent might do. While the bidding amount increased and an amount had to place on the table, each one’s mind was preoccupied thinking what the others are thinking. One participant selected doing relatively better than the other participants whereas all three participants were focused on doing well absolutely. From the various rounds of the game that was played by the players, it was clear that most of them (3 participants) wanted to perform well in the game which decreased their chance of winning in the game, whereas the fourth player who was focused on doing relatively well compared to the participant who was doing well won the game.
Differences between Politics and Games
While each of the players was bidding high and aiming at winning the money, each one ended up losing significant amount of money. Thus, the strategy of winning in absolute terms led them to possess less money as compared to that of the winner (Kahn & Perez, 2009). Thus, the other players were focused more on conflict amongst each other. The winning participant each time undertook the auction tried to perform a bit better than that of the other participants. He tried to play a game of conflict and cooperation which led him to ultimately succeed in the game.
The other players, if at all had played according to the strategy that was adopted by the winning player might have won the game. The other participants could have won the game as they would have placed lower bids and cooperated with other players, leading to losing out of less money than they actually lost out. By playing through cooperation and conflict, they could finally win the game and they could have easily though what the other players was thinking.
Politics cannot be regarded as a game however there is an important political aspect that is regarded as game. Playing politics implies less to lose as there might be participants, who end up each other. Playing in politics can create flexibility, however with increase in number of people there can dramatically change the nature of the game. Primitive Politics can lead to chaos amongst individuals. In order to play this game each player need to play with one another, but everyone needs to beat the other so as to win. Politics emerge from primeval soup to coordinate for social existence. The game teaches that in politics too there needs to be cooperation to win at the end. Politics does not involve only conflicts rather it includes cooperating with opponents in case situation arises to get at the final win. Winning depends upon situation; one has to wittily determine possibility arising from normal distribution and then make choices accordingly.
Politics is seen to be an activity that is conducted for public affairs of people living with one another. Politics and game are similar yet quite contrasted to one another. A game is an attempt made voluntarily in order to overcome obstacles. Games can be regarded as illustrations of true natural concepts by over-simplification. Rules are considered to be integral to games. The role of politics is found to be central in conflict resolution hence was seen as a response to conflict. In absence of conflicts, meaning in case everyone agreed with one another then there would be no position for politics. Though recently there has been an overemphasis on the level of seriousness in playing of games. Politics has been considered to be serious in nature as it has direct impacts on lives of people. In politics there might be cooperation with rivals too. Similar to games in politics too participants work with one another to achieve end results. Though there might be competition with friends and cooperation with foes. It can be regarded as using of social power in a constrained manner. While in politics, the best choices can be made by strategically thinking amongst the various options that are available.
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