There’s this game out there called Win as Much as you Can. The rules are simple: win as much as you can.
The participants are divided into four smaller groups and the rules are explained. Points are awarded to individual groups depending on whether they choose red or green in a series of 10 rounds.
- If all the groups choose green each group is awarded 50 points.
- If all the groups choose red each group loses 200 points.
- If one group chooses green and the other three choose red, the green group looses 300 points and the red groups gain 100 each.
- If two groups choose green and two groups choose red, the green groups loose 100 points each and the red groups gain 100 points each.
- If three groups choose green and one group chooses red, the green groups loose 100 points each and the red group gains 300 points.
So which color do you pick? You may have an inclination to get competitive and choose red. When you choose red there is no way to lose points unless all the small groups choose red at the same time. The participants are reminded the rules of the game: win as much as you can. After two rounds the groups are allowed to send one representative to the middle of the room for discussion. All the groups want to gain points themselves so they compromise to decide to all choose green, that way they will all gain 50 points. But then the representatives return to their small groups and guess what happens – they get greedy. Even though the representatives collaborated and agreed to all choose green, at least one group will go against their word and choose red, earning 300 points for their group while the other groups each lose 100 points. Choosing red can be contagious, and small groups will become upset that some groups are going against their word. In the worst situation all the groups will try to outsmart one another and all choose red, subtracting 200 points from each small group’s total.
This continues until the end of the tenth round. The directions of the game are constantly repeated: win as much as you can. Some groups will have hundreds of points, and some groups will be hundreds of points in the negative. People start to realize what has happened once they get over the fact that their small group scored the most or the least amount of points. People step back and think of themselves as part of the entire group. They come to the realization that while their own small group may have earned the most points, they caused the other small groups to lose points. When you think of the group as a whole, there is no net output of points when any groups chose red. Only when all the groups agree to choose green is when the net gain adds up to be positive for everyone.
- Green(+50) Green (+50) Green (+50) Green (+50) Total: (+200)
- Red (-200) Red (-200) Red (-200) Red (-200) Total: (-800)
- Green (-300) Red (+100) Red (+100) Red (+100) Total: (0 net gain)
- Green (-100) Green (-100) Red (+100) Red (+100) Total: (0 net gain)
- Green (-100) Green (-100) Green (-100) Red (+300) Total: (0 net gain)
The directions were simple: win as much as you can. Separating the participants into groups created an automatic feeling of competition. Never in the directions are the small groups told that they are competing against one another.
This reflects the mindset of our society very accurately. We may all be human, but we are separated into groups in many different ways. We are grouped based on nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, gender, school, grade level, social status, and the list goes on. At some point the need to compete was written into our genetic code. An economist would argue that the world provides a limited amount of resources, and different groups compete to exploit those resources to benefit themselves.
The Wall Street mentality has instilled a sense of greed into our society. Winning and pride is great, but only in moderation. Greed can lead to recklessness, which causes people to forget the bigger picture, the greater good. Wealth and fortune is abundant in our world, but so is poverty. A communist form of socialism isn’t the answer, but neither is die-hard capitalism. Working as a group and thinking of the greater good conflicts with our natural instinct. Do you want to win as much as you can? Funny thing is, so does everyone else.
This simple game teaches a valuable lesson. The greater good has a lot to gain if greed is eliminated. Win as much as you can.