Introduction to Game Theory: a Discovery Approach

Jennifer Firkins Nordstrom


Game theory is an excellent topic for a non-majors quantitative course as it develops mathematical models to understand human behavior in social, political, and economic settings. The variety of applications can appeal to a broad range of students. Additionally, students can learn mathematics through playing games, something many choose to do in their spare time! This text also includes an exploration of the ideas of game theory through the rich context of popular culture. It contains sections on applications of the concepts to popular culture. It suggests films, television shows, and novels with themes from game theory. The questions in each of these sections are intended to serve as essay prompts for writing assignments.

Many colleges offer courses in quantitative reasoning for all students. One model for a quantitative reasoning course is to provide students with a single cohesive topic. Ideally, such a topic can pique the curiosity of students with wide ranging academic interests and limited mathematical background. This text is intended for use in such a course. This text may also be appropriate for a high school enrichment course.

Students can work through the text independently or as a class. The questions throughout the text help students discover the key ideas themselves.

The text is free to download. The materials have been classroom-tested. The online version has been updated, but is also a work in progress. I welcome any feedback on the materials.

Text Formats

Download PDF (Version 4 update, January 2020)

Online Version (Version 4 update, January 2020)

Associated Materials

A full instructor's guide which includes classroom activities, discussion questions, key ideas, solutions, and other implementation suggestions is available to verified course instructors by sending me an email.

This project was developed thanks to the PreTeXt Project.

Jennifer Firkins Nordstrom
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Linfield University
900 SE Baker St
McMinnville, OR 97128

Last significant update: June 13, 2023