1. ## Zero-sum game

In the American media, it is very fashionable nowadays to refer to something as being a "zero-sum game."

I have checked my online dictionaries and realize that it means (as Dictionary.com says): "The sum of the gains equals the sum of the losses."

Could someone give me an example of how zero-sum works in real life?

I need someone to spoonfeed me the answer.

Thank you,

James

2. ## Re: Zero-sum game

Let's imagine we are playing a game of spinning a coin and betting £1 on which way up it lands. I bet it will land "heads" up. It lands "tails" up, and so I pay you £1. You have gained £1, and I have lost £1. That is a zero-sum game.
Now, suppose that every time we played the game, the loser had to put an extra 10p into a collecting pot for charity. This time I guess correctly, so you pay me £1, and put 10p into the collecting pot. I have gained £1, and you have lost £1.10. That is not a zero-sum game.

In real life, let's suppose you sue me for libel and win. The court awards you £1000 damages, which I have to pay you. So I lose £1000, and you gain £1000 - which would be a zero-sum game.
However, if one or both of us has hired lawyers, their fees will have to be paid, and that will make suing me not a zero-sum game.

3. ## Re: Zero-sum game

It is a term that is rarely used correctly- I mostly hear it used to suggest that something involves a loss.

4. ## Re: Zero-sum game

Two teams are playing a basketball game. One side wins. The other side loses.

5. ## Re: Zero-sum game

The thing is this: as theoretical games, zero sum games are not interesting. One side wins, the other side loses. Ho hum. Many far more interesting games have been invented, the most obvious example being The Prisoner's Dilemma.

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