The Dictator Game

Fossil9 —  May 6, 2013 — Leave a comment

My post on Game Theory in a Scene triggered a number of interesting discussions so I am going to continue with occasional posts incorporating game theory in a BDSM or power exchange based situation.  I already discussed the Prisoner’s Dilemma in my prior post which is just one “game” in game theory but there are a number of interesting “games” that can be incorporated into a D/s dynamic.  This post will focus on the dictator game and my next post incorporating game theory will be on the ultimatum game.

Dictator Game
Some quick background – In the dictator game one player allocates all of a fixed reward/resource.  The second player has no choice but to receive whatever the first player has allocated to the second player.  If player one is focused upon maximizing his own benefit he will take all of the reward/resource and leave nothing for the other player.  The concept is pretty simple and generally used to test how altruistic people’s are actions are in a given situation.

Application in a D/s situation:
In a D/s situation the aforementioned game needs to be slightly tweaked to fit the dynamics of each individual’s role.  First, the Dom needs to have a good understanding of what the sub(s) really enjoy; what they are willing to do but need to be “pushed” to do; and what their limits are.  To be clear, I believe the Dom should already know these things prior to setting up any scene with a sub.

When a Dom has a single sub in a scene the Dom can still leverage these games to have some fun with the sub.  Instead of allowing the sub to chose rewards/resources from a list given by the Dom we can make the sub chose from a set of experiences that would push their limits or otherwise be unfavorable.  He will make those choices and, if acceptable to the Dom, they will be carried out.  This seems too simple so we need to make it more difficult for the sub.  What if the sub does not have a good feel for their Dom’s expectations?  Does the Dom really expect the sub to chose all the negative experiences?  If the sub selects none of the negative experiences will he be off the hook?  Will the sub get into the worst possible situation by incorrectly trying to call his Dom’s bluff?

When I communicate with the sub about the choices they need to make I tend to be vague about what I am expecting.  My interest is not in having the sub simply fulfill the expectations I set for him so the vagueness helps force the sub to make real decisions.  If the sub is given too much direction he will do what he is obviously supposed to do and then the two of us are simply acting out a scene instead of interacting.  The sub knows he needs to fulfill my expectations but he also needs to figure out what exactly those expectations are.

Normally after I give the sub this task I will be patient and give him some time to give me an answer.  In my experience the most frequent outcome is that the sub will take some time and finally arrive at the decision to take most, if not all, of the adverse experiences.  When I ask the sub about his decision making process usually he struggles for awhile and, in some manner, says that he based his decision upon what he thought my expectations of him were.  Sometimes the sub is right and sometimes he is wrong.

On other occasions I want to have a different kind of fun with the sub – I will get inside the sub’s head even more.  The lack of clarity in the directive to a nude sub already restrained in a vulnerable position can really make it difficult for the sub to think clearly.  While they are thinking, I like to amp up the pressure on a decision.

It is always fascinating to watch people under duress make decisions that may have repercussions.  Just as in other aspects of life; some subs see stress as a powerful motivator and others succumb to it.  While playing one of these “games” with a sub is certainly fun from a general power perspective these situations can be powerful tools to help understand a sub’s interests and their will.

If you decide to try something like this in a scene be sure to give it some thought beforehand and be sure it is appropriate for your situation.  As with anything on my blog, this concept will not be appropriate for every Dom or sub but I thought it would be worthwhile to share.  At minimum, I hope this post helped trigger some new thoughts about interactions during a power exchange focused scene.

Puppy Gear

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