Branch of applied mathematics devised to analyze certain situations in which there is an interplay between parties that may have similar, opposed, or mixed interests. Game theory was originally developed by John von Neumann and Oscar Morgenstern in their book The Theory of Games and Economic Behavior (1944). In a typical game, or competition with fixed rules, “players” try to outsmart one another by anticipating the others' decisions, or moves. A solution to a game prescribes the optimal strategy or strategies for each player and predicts the average, or expected, outcome. Until a highly contrived counterexample was devised in 1967, it was thought that every contest had at least one solution. Seealso decision theory; prisoner's dilemma.
Learn more about game theory with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Radio or television show designed to test the knowledge, luck, or skill of contestants or experts. Among the shows popular on U.S. radio were Dr. I.Q. (1939–49), Information, Please (1938–48), and The Quiz Kids (1940–53). The genre was adopted by television and cash awards were increased, so that radio's $64 Question became television's $64,000 Question. In the mid-1950s, to increase their shows' popularity, some producers began feeding answers to contestants who had been chosen to win. An accusation of unfair practices on Twenty-one (1958) led to a government investigation and the quick demise of the big-money shows. The game show later regained popularity when it was revived in formats with lower stakes and easier questions, as on Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. At the turn of the 21st century, game shows such as Who Wants to Be a Millionaire boasted large cash prizes and gained popularity in prime time, and reality shows like Survivor adopted aspects of the game show genre.
Learn more about game show with a free trial on Britannica.com.