My Tentative Problem with Game Theory

Game theory, for those not sure, is the theory that men (it’s pretty much always men) have a statistically higher chance of picking up women if they do certain things and try to replicate certain qualities. Basically, think of a class on how to pick up girls. The first website I found on game theory is this: http://alphagameplan.blogspot.com/

In theory, there’s nothing wrong with game theory. It’s not good or bad. It just is. It’s a tool, just like a hammer. If you use it to bash somebody’s brains in, it’s a weapon. If not, it knocks in nails.

But reading some of the “rules” and looking at what some of the bloggers say really kind of disturbs me. Take a look at the “16 Commandments” linked here: http://heartiste.wordpress.com/the-sixteen-commandments-of-poon/

Some are more or less fine. Harsh, but probably true to at least an extent. Some are downright wrong. Like, not wrong as in incorrect, but wrong as in “You shouldn’t do that.” Like this:

VII. Always keep two in the kitty

Never allow yourself to be a “kept man”. A man with options is a man without need. It builds confidence and encourages boldness with women if there is another woman, a safety net, to catch you in case you slip and risk a breakup, divorce, or a lost prospect, leading to loneliness and a grinding dry spell. A woman knows once she has slept with a man she has abdicated a measure of her power; when she has fallen in love with him she has surrendered nearly all of it. But love is ephemeral and with time she may rediscover her power and threaten to leave you. It is her final trump card. Withdrawing all her love and all her body in an instant will rend your soul if you are faced with contemplating the empty abyss alone. Knowing there is another you can turn to for affection will fortify your will and satisfy your manhood.

Did you catch what it said there? You should have a “backup” in place even if you’re married. Now I know no-fault divorce is a killer. I get that. But if you feel the need to have a backup, don’t get married. That’s not how it’s supposed to work. For Catholics, it CAN’T work like that. If we legally divorce, we stay celibate, period. And what does having “options” even mean, anyway? How does a married man keep a backup?

Some of the others are vulgar and some most definitely anti-feminist, but none stand out to me quite like that.

“The Hierarchy” is another idea that is okay in theory but, when I’ve seen it used, is almost always creepy in practice. Here it is: http://alphagameplan.blogspot.com/2011/03/socio-sexual-hierarchy.htm

Basically it’s a way to rank people based on how attractive they are, sexually, to women, going from Alpha at the top to Omega at the bottom. All right. (And here I must confess that I couldn’t resist and took a test where I got rated as a “lower tier beta”, for whatever that’s worth, which is exactly nothing.)

Anyway, the post is written by a guy named Vox. Vox, or Vox Day, is the pen name of Theodore Beale, a science fiction writer who runs his own fairly interesting and apparently popular blog. I don’t agree with him all the time but normally I give the blog a look each day, sometimes just to see him rip into feminists (I also think his analysis on Syria is spot on). His dismantling of Scalzi, a feminist known by Vox affectionately as “McRapey”, can be amusing, though it occasionally hugs the border between funny and nasty.

In the linked post, Vox says this at the end:

There is no good or bad here, there is only what happens to be observable in social interaction. Consider: alphas seemingly rule the roost and yet they live in a world of constant conflict and status testing.

I’d like to believe that he means this, but I don’t. In the “manosphere” (the term used for blogs that have somewhat of a focus, even if it’s not the main focus, on game theory), when you want to insult somebody, call them something besides an alpha. Whenever Vox discusses Scalzi he always likes to throw out there that he’s a (if I remember correctly) “gamma”. If you read the comments sections of those blogs and you disagree with the author, the commenters will come out of the woodwork and say things like, “Classic beta response” or “look at this – this man is obviously a gamma”. And of you’re a woman and you disagree, well, you’re wrong. Like, “not even to be considered” wrong. Basically, because you’re a woman. Or at least when they start to disagree.

Now, I’m not a feminist, in any sense of the word. I believe in complimentary rights, not equal rights (as in, men and women are different, and men have the right and responsibilities to do certain things that women don’t, and vice versa – the two compliment each other). I believe that in an ideal family women should stay home and raise the child and the husband should work. Just so you get the picture.

But there’s something really…off about game theory. I think a lot, maybe almost all, of it actually works and makes sense. But something about it seems wrong. And part of where I get this feeling is from its supposed followers. I feel as if anybody reading this who is a game theory disciple will probably respond with something like, “typical beta”. Or whatever. It’s the impression I’ve gotten from reading.

I guess there’s an attitude that seems to come with the territory of becoming an “alpha”, and the semi-hero worship of said alphas, that really bothers me. I’m not completely sure, but something just isn’t quite right.

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16 Responses to My Tentative Problem with Game Theory

  1. blankexpression42 says:

    pickup artists, game theorists, conspiracy theorists.. they’re all pretty much the same: they think they’re “cool” and they reassure themselves that they’re right and that that’s all that matters, and that they’re God’s gift to the women, etc. it’d be interesting to see how they’d react in a real life situation where they got burned badly by adhering to their respective theory.

    now, there are a few ways to really piss off followers of the game theory: 1) not be bothered by them and say “yep. i’m a beta. so what?” or 2) “i just lost the game”.

    • I actually disagree with you. I think, from reading a lot of this stuff and seeing stories, that a lot of what they said makes sense. I don’t even think they’re necessarily all jerks. There’s just something off about the people doing this – they assume disrespect, and being an asshole, as a given. And if you’re NOT an alpha, you’re looked down upon. Something is very wrong there.

  2. Crude says:

    Minor, nitpicky comment for now – but there’s Game, and there’s Game Theory. Game Theory is more of a mathematical discipline that has nothing to do with the whole alpha/beta thing.

  3. Crude says:

    Anyway, another comments.

    For one thing, I think there’s a big difference between ‘Game, as explained by its leading proponents’ and ‘Game, as explained by guys on 4chan’. For one thing, the latter usually just see ‘alphas’ and ‘betas’. From what I know of Game, it’s actually divided into alphas, betas, deltas, gammas, and omegas. Betas, in game, are not spineless wimps, at least as Vox explains it. See here.

    As for what Vox is saying – when he says there’s no good or bad, I don’t think he’s saying culturally. Obviously he’d have to say that most women react best to alphas. He’s saying that social operations that lead to that hierarchy are what they are. It’s not something he and Roissy, etc, are inventing – they’re simply describing it and how it works. They don’t make someone an alpha or a game – they point it out, or so they’d say.

    If women generally like assholes – if they like guys who are confident, who are jerks at times, who display narcissistic traits, etc – then that’s what they like. Maybe they should have better or different standards. I think Roissy even says explicitly he wishes they did. But, they have the standards they have (despite often saying they don’t), and that’s what you have to work with. It’s up to you to determine how to use that information.

    Not that I’m certain game is right. I will say, a lot of the ‘game’ insights seem totally accurate to me, like it or not.

    • From what I know of Game, it’s actually divided into alphas, betas, deltas, gammas, and omegas. Betas, in game, are not spineless wimps, at least as Vox explains it.

      I know, I actually linked to that post specifically. I was referring to those rankings.

      As for what Vox is saying – when he says there’s no good or bad, I don’t think he’s saying culturally. Obviously he’d have to say that most women react best to alphas. He’s saying that social operations that lead to that hierarchy are what they are. It’s not something he and Roissy, etc, are inventing – they’re simply describing it and how it works. They don’t make someone an alpha or a game – they point it out, or so they’d say.

      The problem is, he, and his readers, whatever they say (and I think Vox might deny this), use calling somebody anything besides an alpha an insult, and it also invalidates automatically any argument you make about feminism. Dalrock’s readers (don’t know if you read him; if not, I’ll put a link later) are especially bad.

      If women generally like assholes – if they like guys who are confident, who are jerks at times, who display narcissistic traits, etc – then that’s what they like. Maybe they should have better or different standards. I think Roissy even says explicitly he wishes they did. But, they have the standards they have (despite often saying they don’t), and that’s what you have to work with. It’s up to you to determine how to use that information.
      I get this, but I get the very real impression from reading them that they look down on you if you say, “Yes, I know that’s the best way to pick up girls, but I don’t want to be an asshole.” Like the maxim about keeping a backup girl if you’re married is totally ridiculous. Sorry.

      I mean, it’s a tool. I get that. I can totally see myself using some of their methods, because with a lot of them there’s nothing necessarily wrong. There is a culture that surrounds the manosphere though, even the supposedly “normal” guys like Dalrock, Vox, and the other guys at Alpha game, that really disturbs me, at least a bit.

      • Crude says:

        I know, I actually linked to that post specifically. I was referring to those rankings.

        My bad. Didn’t read thoroughly enough.

        use calling somebody anything besides an alpha an insult, and it also invalidates automatically any argument you make about feminism.

        I don’t think this works with Vox, since he calls himself a sigma. I don’t think most Vox readers are going to call anyone a beta or a delta as an insult – gamma is the insult supreme. Omega you’d think would be worse, but I think omega hits a little too close to home for many.

        But yeah, I think the standard comments section antics go on to a degree. That’s probably inescapable.

        I get this, but I get the very real impression from reading them that they look down on you if you say, “Yes, I know that’s the best way to pick up girls, but I don’t want to be an asshole.”

        Probably. I don’t know about Vox specifically, but I think a good number will at the very least think you’re making a mistake.

        And no need to apologize – I’m not some big Game defender. Just trying to sort out possible misunderstandings. I’m not judging where you’re coming from, because I honestly don’t understand it so far – I’ll just watch and see what else you have to say about this before commenting more. I suppose part of the problem is the asshole part. You’ve seen me – I can be an asshole (in another context). I think sometimes it’s necessary. I think a lot of damage, even self-damage, is inflicted by people who just want to be nice and civil.

        So, I reject it in the intellectual sphere. That makes me initially predisposed to not take it as obviously a good idea in other spheres. The only thing I’ll say now is that, with regards to the commentary on, ‘always have another girl on the side’… notice that what’s key there isn’t ‘having a girl on the side’. It’s confidence. It’s keeping yourself from being needy and dependent. THAT is what is being addressed – the ‘have a girl on the side’ is just a way to deal with that.

      • See, here’s the thing: What you said about the “girl on the side” bit is exactly my issue here. They could just say confidence, but the attitude is that they should also have a backup. There’s a culture surrounding this that just strikes me as really unhealthy. I know several of the people at least on Dalrock’s blog that openly advocate polygamy. (Also, Vox calling himself a Sigma doesn’t exactly change any attitude he has towards lower ranks, considering Sigma is ranked roughly as high as an Alpha).

        I mean, he says “betas have it pretty good”, yet on the test linked on that blog they talk about betas needing to be “redeemed” and talk about “banging a few fatties” or something.

        Yeah, the comments section of the blogs get pretty bad. Whenever a woman comments, even if she agrees with them, she’s treated pretty viciously.

        Being a narcissistic asshole is a bit different from being not nice. On one post, a blind man asked for help getting women. They recommended he make himself look badass – skull tipped cane, bandana, muscle shirt, tattoo, that type of thing. Which is fine and all…but doesn’t a makeover that extreme give you the impression that they’re asking people like him to be somebody they’re just not? I mean, there’s a makeover and then there’s giving you a radically different personality.

      • Crude says:

        I mean, there’s a makeover and then there’s giving you a radically different personality.

        That’s pretty much exactly what Game advocates are after. It is, literally, about changing your approach, attitude, and other parts of your personality.

        I know that a lot of people in the comments sections are idiots. However, a lot of them are using some weird binary ranking idea where you’re either an alpha OR a beta. Try to find Vox making fun of someone for being a beta. I think that’s actually going to be difficult.

        Anyway, I wouldn’t defend the culture surrounding the ‘Game’ thing, because a lot of it is pretty bad. On the other hand, I also can’t say their philosophy and approach doesn’t work, because as near as I can tell, it really does. Some of the attitude, I agree with – I don’t think being meek and deferential is a good idea, no matter how much this is drummed into guys’ heads.

        That’s part of -my- problem, for the record. I see the Alpha guys and recognize, yep, they’re a bunch of assholes. Then I look at the Scalzi ‘feminist male’ guys and I realize, those guys are catty bitches and pansies besides.

      • Try to find Vox making fun of someone for being a beta. I think that’s actually going to be difficult.

        I don’t doubt it. As I said, I read Vox’s blog. I don’t dislike him. Like I said, I think he sometimes toes the line between amusing and nasty and I don’t think his labeling of black people as “savages” (even though I know what he means and agree for the most part) is going to do him any favors. But, his dismantling of feminists like Scalzi is generally spot-on, I agree completely with his views on Syria, and I read through the whole SFWA debacle and came out of it on his side. So I believe you.

        On the other hand, I also can’t say their philosophy and approach doesn’t work, because as near as I can tell, it really does. Some of the attitude, I agree with – I don’t think being meek and deferential is a good idea, no matter how much this is drummed into guys’ heads.

        I agree, for the most part. I, bluntly, don’t handle myself with girls well because I’m shy and nervous. I have no delusions, and never had any, that this is a good thing. It’s a flaw I need to correct.

        That’s part of -my- problem, for the record. I see the Alpha guys and recognize, yep, they’re a bunch of assholes. Then I look at the Scalzi ‘feminist male’ guys and I realize, those guys are catty bitches and pansies besides.

        I get the impression, from looking at the alpha traits and reading some of the anecdotes about them, that these guys either are or were bullies. So it’s difficult for me to look at them and say “Yeah, THAT’S who I want to be!”.

        And yeah, I know you don’t HAVE to be a bully. You do need to be at least a bit of an asshole, though.

        And sigmas, like Vox, throw a whole other wrench into the works. They really are living proof that game ISN’T always right. I think that’s part of the problem with the culture surrounding it – game is only a system, a tool to be applied. Sometimes girls really DO have different tastes in guys, or guys can be something besides an alpha and still attract girls. It’s not the be-all end-all, and yet many times in the manosphere it’s treated like Gospel. Just take a look at how people react if somebody DARES to say that game might not work in such-and-such a case, or point out that some girls, even normal one, really DO like nerdy guys. It’s not pretty.

  4. Mr. X says:

    I also find the culture surrounding these sorts of websites a bit off-putting. I think the root of it is (if I might borrow some feminist terminology) that they tend to objectify women, rather than seeing them as people who are valuable in their own right. Hence a lot of their advice — flirt with other women, give them 2/3 of what they give you, and so on — seems to essentially boil down to “manipulate them to get what you want”. The idea of actually getting to know them as people, and pursuing their friendship for its own sake rather than as a means to sex, doesn’t seem to come up that much, if at all.

    • I think the correct response would be, again, that game is just a tool; you can use it without necessarily objectifying women. That said, yes, I think these websites tend to bring people out of the woodwork who think like that.

      • Mr. X says:

        I’m actually sceptical as to whether you can use the game without objectifying women, given that a lot of it seems to involve various kinds of manipulation to get what you want out of them. Not only are you using women as means to an end, a lot of the advice seems like it would turn your focus inwards, towards what you’re doing, rather than outwards towards other people (“Am I showing her the right proportion of attention? Should I do this or that?”). So even if it is possible to use the game (or at least some aspects thereof) without objectifying, I still think that it encourages habits of thought or action which do tend towards objectification.

      • There’s probably a point where it gets to that, but a lot of it is good advice. I don’t think anybody would argue that making yourself attractive to the opposite sex and being more forward with women is objectifying. And some of it is “that’s just the way it is” stuff. Women look more for stability, so try and look strong, is just a statement of fact followed by advice to make yourself look more attractive. I mean, when a woman pulls down the top button, I don’t feel objectified.

        With that said, yeah, I think it can lead to an attitude where you look down at women and see them as a means to an end. It would explain a lot about the types of people who post in and even about the manosphere.

      • Mr. X says:

        Actually, having looked over the links a bit more, I agree that a lot of it is quite harmless. That said, there are pieces of advice which veer into objectifying territory. So anybody trying to follow every piece of advice they give would almost inevitably end up objectifying people.

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