The Game

Icosystem uses The Game to provide a practical demonstration of the following points:

  • Simple rules of individual behavior can lead to surprisingly coherent system level results.
  • Small changes in rules or in the way they are applied can have significant impact on the system level results.
  • Intuition can be a particularly poor guide to prediction of the behavior of complex systems above a few levels of complexity (here we have only 3).
  • Simulation is a powerful tool for understanding the dynamics of complex systems.

You can play The Game for real with 10 or more participants.

  • Ask everyone to each randomly select 2 individuals – person A and person B.
  • Now ask the participants to move so that they always keep A in between themselves and B – so that A is their protector from B.
  • Everyone in the room will mill about in a seemingly random fashion and will soon begin to ask why they are doing this. Now tell them to stop, and that they are now the protector so tell them to move so that they keep themselves in between A and B.

The results are striking. Almost instantaneously the whole room will implode on itself with everyone clustering together in a tight knot.

By using a simple agent-based model in which each person is modeled as an autonomous agent following the rules, one can actually predict the emergent collective behavior. Click here to launch The Game in a new window. Also, by using the simulation as test bed, one can explore the design of the rules to produce a desired outcome. (Challenge: Can you drive the simulation to form 2 clusters?)

The Game requires a Java-enabled browser.

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