Understanding Games of Baiting and Daring

Understanding Video games of Baiting and Daring


She too couldn’t dwell with out me. – Alexei pining for Polina

Alexei Ivanovich, Dostoevsky’s fictional alter ego in his quick story, The Gambler, gambles and wins—at the least for a spell. In his social video games, he’s much less profitable. His love for the heiress Polina Alexandrovna is unrequited, or so it seems until the very finish. Polina performs video games with Alexei, two of which we will contemplate right here, utilizing game-theoretic instruments launched in different essays (see Krueger, 2022a, for a current dialogue of a recreation of guilt and energy).

Teasing and baiting

Within the first recreation, Polina reveals her mastery of the tease. Understanding that Alexei wishes her, she refuses to disclose her intentions. As an alternative, she stokes his hopes with requests for assist (e.g., to gamble on her behalf together with her cash), veiled allusions, and issues she might say however doesn’t. Alexei confides that “She cherished all of the sudden to torture me with some recent outburst of contempt and aloofness! But she will need to have recognized that I couldn’t dwell with out her.” He goes on to conclude that “She too couldn’t dwell with out me, for had she not mentioned that she had want of me? Or had that too been spoken in jest?”

Poor Alexei tries every part to win her favor; he even makes her wealthy after a fortunate run on the on line casino, however we discover out Polina controls the sport. Or does she? A better have a look at this Recreation of Bait is instructive. We start by making affordable assumptions in regards to the desire rankings of the teaser and the teasee.

Matrix 1 reveals that each have a selection between two methods. Polina can chorus from baiting Alexei (i.e., cooperate) or tease him (defect). Alexei can chew (cooperate) or refuse (defect). Larger numbers refer to higher worth for the participant. Inside every of the 4 cells of the matrix, the quantity to the left signifies Polina’s desire and the quantity to the appropriate refers to Alexei’s desire.

J. Krueger

Recreation of Bait

Supply: J. Krueger

Polina would absolutely most get pleasure from having Alexei swallow the bait [4]; it will affirm her energy. Her second most well-liked final result is to not bait a recalcitrant Alexei within the first place [3], adopted by having Alexei—pointlessly—undergo her with out her asking [2]. Polina’s least most well-liked final result is to see her bait refused, as this could humiliate her [1]. We suspect that Alexei would most want to not be teased and but strategy Polina efficiently [4] adopted by staying away from an aloof Polina [3]. His third desire is to withstand the bait [2], whereas his worst final result is to be baited right into a humiliating strategy [1].

With these conflicting units of preferences, the battle traces are drawn. The vital function of this bait recreation is that it has no equilibrium state. For any of the 4 outcomes, there’s one participant who can do higher by switching methods. When Polina baits Alexei she ought to anticipate him to remain aloof. Her baiting him reveals her want for energy and her myopic neglect of the rational countermove. Alternatively, she acknowledges Alexei’s masochistic streak and the satisfaction he takes in being humiliated. In brief, the preferences held by affordable folks, that are proven within the matrix, is probably not the preferences Dostoevsky attributes to Nineteenth-century Russian aristocrats and social opportunists.

Daring the hen

Within the second recreation, which precedes the primary within the story, Alexei seems to be within the driver’s seat. Having ascended the “Shlangenberg” [Snake Mountain, presumably the Neroberg north of the Wiesbaden Casino], Alexei presents to “leap into the abyss.”

“Simply however the phrase’” he dares Polina, “Had you mentioned it, I ought to have leapt. Do you not consider me?’

Matrix 2 reveals Alexei because the row participant. He has a selection between being a gentleman (cooperation) and a daring provocation (defection). Polina, the column participant, chooses between cooperative lodging (“Don’t leap!”) and calling the bluff (defection)—if it’s a bluff. Word {that a} affordable desire rating is symmetrical, revealing a recreation of hen (Krueger, 2022b). Each gamers want most to have their defection stand, adopted by mutual cooperation, and lastly, by the disaster of discovering that the dare was no bluff.

J. Kreuger

Recreation of Dare [Chicken]

Supply: J. Kreuger

As Alexei strikes first, he has the ability to power Polina to accommodate him. Had she pleaded with him to not leap, even perhaps desist for her sake, Alexei may need acquired the sign of affection he so craved. Alas, Polina is the extra crafty strategist. She is aware of tips on how to win a recreation by stepping out of it.

“What silly garbage!” she cries, deflating Alexei.


There are numerous methods to learn literature, and Dostoevsky presents plentiful prospects for recent interpretation. Freud (1928) credited his literary genius with anticipating components of what turned depth psychology. I wrote this essay to dare you to see that some psychological insights lie in plain sight. A semi-fictional character like Alexei Ivanovich is embroiled in lots of social video games which can be all too acquainted. A bit of evaluation can go a protracted option to make clear our personal preferences and information us towards a greater final result subsequent time when a crafty participant teases or dares us.

How did it finish for Alexei and Polina? Dostoevsky palms Polina a remaining victory when he permits her to humiliate Alexei one final time. The pasty Englishman Mr. Astley reviews to Alexei, “Sure, poor unlucky. She did love you: and I could inform you this now given that now you’re completely misplaced.” It’s too late for Alexei to see this love develop into actuality, which Polina seems to know. Her missive is a merciless joke, a spiteful strategic transfer in a meta-game, the psychological comprehension of which could require some depth psychology past recreation principle.


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