zero-sum game

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zero-sum game (plural zero-sum games)

  1. (game theory) A game (or a similar political or economic system) in which the gains of some players must equal the losses of others.
    Coordinate terms: win-win, lose-lose
    • 2011 July 18, John Cassidy, “Mastering the Machine”, in The New Yorker[1], →ISSN:
      Dalio is right, but somewhat self-serving. If hedge-fund managers are playing a zero-sum game, what is their social utility? [] Can it really be in America’s interest to have so much of its young talent playing a zero-sum game?
    • 2013, Andrew M. Colman, Game Theory and its Applications: In the Social and Biological Sciences[2], Psychology Press, →ISBN, page 55:
      A zero-sum game, as its name suggests, is one in which, whatever the outcome, the payoffs to the players add up to zero, which means that what one player gains, the other(s) must necessarily lose.
    • 2014, “The Writing's On the Wall”, in Hungry Ghosts, performed by OK Go:
      Listen, I know it's been hard / You know it’s no different for me / We’re less than a zero-sum game now / And baby, we both know that's not how it's supposed to be
    • 2022 August 16, Adam Morton, “De-extinction: scientists are planning the multimillion-dollar resurrection of the Tasmanian tiger”, in The Guardian[3]:
      He said turning a lab-created animal into a wild population would be an “enormous challenge”, but the financial support for de-extinction research should not be seen as a “zero sum game”.



Further reading