A single conversation with a wise man is better than ten years of study.
~ Chinese Proverb ~

Economic Games in Software Projects

Matthew McCullough

The full title of this talk reveals its grand aims: Game Theory and Software Development: Explaining Brinksmanship, Irrationality, and Other Selfish Sins

Once in a while, a topic, seemingly orthogonal to software development, presents a great opportunity to showcase how engineering can benefit from knowledge of seemingly more social disciplines. In this talk, the fundamental principles of economics' Game Theory are compared to often inexplicable behaviors and decisions we frequently observe in programming projects.

Then, with a good Game Theory vocabulary under your belt, several standard games are studied in a manner that will allow you to better manipulate the inputs. These games are present in web framework choices, project planning and estimation, and even team decisions on which bug to solve first. With a good understanding of Game Theory, you'll be able to understand and influence what you previously labeled 'irrational behavior.' It turns out to be far from irrational when examined in the context of self-preservation. Once these behaviors are understood, you will be able to ethically influence the outcomes to your personal and corporate advantage.

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