Zero Sum Gamers

One of the nastier mistakes people can make in life is to imagine the whole thing is a ZeroSumGame, like chess or bridge. This is to say, if one person or group wins, then some other must lose. It all balances out to zero.

Zero sum gamers often try to justify this irrational belief on the grounds of physics. They'll say that the SecondLawOfThermodynamics decrees that, in the end, it will all wind down to flatline, never once considering that if the SecondLawOfThermodynamics is absolute then we wouldn't be here in the first place to contemplate the SecondLawOfThermodynamics. (Is this refutation an application of the Weak AnthropicPrinciple?) [The second law of thermodynamics is absolute. It just isn't local. It is also widely misunderstood and misapplied.]

Politically, zero sum gamers are very noisy pots, forever ranting about failed justice, lost propriety, and the sins of generations long past. They may call themselves almost anything -- socialists, libertarians, marxists, capitalists -- whatever the label the intent is always the same: apportion the blame and hand out the punishment.

Worst of all, zero sum gamers tend to travel in flocks. If you dare once mention that you think the game could have a positive sum if only we were constructive about it, they'll all pile on. You fool! You charlatan! You daydreamer! Don't you realize it's a dog eat dog world out there?

Yes, of course, I'm trolling for zero sum gamers here. Out of the woodwork with you scuttling pests! Show yourselves so we can deliver the thrashing you so richly deserve! I defy you to argue me down! [Wanders off spilling chewed food in beard and shaking fist at sky].


There are degrees. There's the "someone has to lose and there's nothing you can do" gamer, there's the "you'd better get what you can before someone else get's it" gamer, and my favorite, the "all of 'them' have it so 'they' owe it to me" entitlement gamer.

But you're right, working for actual mutual benefit is viewed as naive/foolish, dishonest, or impossible.

Life does not have to be a ZeroSum game. -- GarryHamilton

Wouldn't the entitlement gamer you mention be nearly the opposite of a zero sum gamer?

Not necessarily, since they believe that if someone else has *it*, there is none left for them to bother earning.


Aka: "There's two types of people, those that make the ShitSandwich? and those that have to eat it." See also: TestosteronePoisoning?.


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