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Triumph Of Optimists Revisited By Yishen Kuik
Not sure if this has been explored on this list, but
there are a great many parallels between trading and
multi-player computer games. Since most on this list
are older than I and unlikely to be playing computer
games, I hope what I'm about to write is not too
A game currently popular is "Day of Defeat", a WW2
based game where human players log into servers from
all over to join either an Axis infantry squad or an
Allies infantry squad. The squads then engage in urban
warfare in a ruined European city. Everything that
goes on in the game is determined by human beings
against other human beings - you are not fighting some
computer generated opponent like older computer games.
- Zero sum game. A player's kills (of opponents) and
deaths are logged. This is a zero sum since one
player's kills are another's deaths. Players that get
killed too often soon realize they are in a game with
superior players and will drop out to find an
easier one. This usually results in a net positive
kills for remaining players after some time,
reflecting, literally, a survivorship bias.
- Personality determines style. A
player has a choice of roles in the squad - rifleman,
machine gunner, sniper, bazooka. No role is superior,
and each player eventually plays a role their
is best suited for. eg. those with great patience and
want high risk-reward scores become snipers, those who
seek action become riflemen and rush in groups, those
who want to dominate become machine gunners, those who
want to take out difficult positions become
- Cooperation matters. A single player operating
individually can be successful, but players who
operate in groups (by communicating though an internet
voice chat) are usually much more successful. They can
relay to each other where the enemy sniper & gunner
positions are to reduce their own death rate.
- Conceal your approach. Inexperienced players
usually rush down the middle of roads or alleys.
Experienced players usually hug the
walls of streets, keeping crosshairs trained at
each corner. This minimizes their exposure to the
enemy and maximizes their kill rate since the corner
is where you will first see the enemy appear.
- Human nature can be taken advantage of. Sometimes
an experienced player will find a good spot to camp
out and rack up kills. This is usually a high ledge, a
low bush, or simply the area behind a door or
next to the mouth of a tunnel. This takes advantage of
certain human tendencies. When we walk forward, we do
not look up, we do not look down and we do not look
behind us. By standing behind a door when it opens and
waiting for the enemy to rush through it, a player can
shoot him neatly in the back when the door closes.
This is a good risk reward spot, because it takes a
while for the enemy to turn around and figure where
you are, so even a bad shot has a good chance of
killing the enemy.
- Knowledge matters. Dexterous players can score
kills by accurate reflexes honed through practice. But
players without great dexterity can
also score kills by accumulated knowledge of tricks
like 5) and a detailed knowledge of the terrain -
where all the nooks & crannies are.
- Equipment matters. A player with a faster
connection and more powerful computer has a slight
- Information spreads. Once a player has scored a
great many kills on the enemy by hiding out at a
vantage spot, word gets around the enemy and they
usually cooperate to take him out. This degrades the
value of that spot as a good kill zone. An experienced
player knows to rotate out of a good kill spot while
the going is good before it becomes the next target
for a bazooka or grenade.
- Scarcity has value. If everyone on your squad
decides to be a sniper, then the number of kills
available to snipers goes down drastically as the
enemy learns after being killed a few times to avoid
open areas and instead choose to go through alternate
routes, like the sewers or alleyways. In such cases,
you score more kills as a rifleman by meeting the
enemy clustered in the sewers.
- Risk management. In a large game with many
players, the kills come fast and furious and an
inexperienced player finds it almost impossible to
determine where the shots are coming from. Being
killed seems like a random process due to bad luck. An
experienced player knows that in such situations, it
pays to be extra careful about being aware of where
your exposes are - top, bottom, left, right, front,
back. Because an enemy might pop up anywhere and
deliver a bullet, you want to keep as many walls and
ceilings around you as can so that you can limit the
areas where a possible enemy might appear, and keep
your crosshairs trained on those areas.
For those who have made it this far, the game is a
rather amazing simulation of urban warfare, and a
testament to the marvel of human achievement in
technology - surely the chief ingredient behind the
constant upward drift in equity valuations?