The Best Game Theory Textbooks of 2021

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Have you been struggling with the concept of game theory and need a little help? Are you searching for game theory books that will help you understand its intent and history? We have got you covered. Game Theory is a sophisticated theoretical framework that many have referred to as the science of strategy.

Whether you are struggling in class to grasp the concept or simply need a refresher on how game theory works, you have come to the right place. Game theory was first introduced by economist Oskar Morgenstern, as well as mathematicians John Nash and John von Neumann. It is often used in the real world for things like product releases or even evaluating pricing. Game theory is used within several disciplines. This discipline includes economics, politics, and many other subjects.

This list will provide you with the best books on game theory to aid you in your studies as well as prepare you for self-study. We will provide you with books that will teach you how to use game theory, as well as zero in on books for beginners. Keep reading to find some of the most recommended game theory books from students and more.

If you want to just get back to studying, get our top choice for Game Theory textbooks here.

Our Top Favorite
Theory of Games and Economic Behavior
Our Top Runner Up
Game Theory: An Introduction
Our Top Value Pick
Game Theory 101: The Complete Textbook
Book Title
Theory of Games and Economic Behavior
Game Theory: An Introduction
Game Theory 101: The Complete Textbook Paperback
Prime Eligible?
-
Our Top Favorite
Theory of Games and Economic Behavior
Book Title
Theory of Games and Economic Behavior
Prime Eligible?
-
Our Top Runner Up
Game Theory: An Introduction
Book Title
Game Theory: An Introduction
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Value Pick
Game Theory 101: The Complete Textbook
Book Title
Game Theory 101: The Complete Textbook Paperback
Prime Eligible?

Last update: 2021-01-21

Our Favorites for Best Game Theory Textbooks

Theory of Games and Economic Behavior by Oskar Morgenstern and John Von Neumann

Theory of Games and Economic Behavior is brought to readers by two of the founders of Game Theory. This text was initially written in 1944, and it is where Oskar and John broke ground on the theory of strategy. This strategy went on to create a new field of inquiry and revolutionize economics.

What Makes It Unique:

  • Theory of Games and Economic Behavior compares the application of games to social behavior. Aside from the first chapter, which speaks about economics, the remaining portions focus strictly on game theory.
  • This was the first text to publish the theory in its entirety. The book encompasses earlier research published by John Von Neumann, which was first published in 1928.

Why Choose This Game Theory Book:

  • This is a text that many individuals have read several years ago and are looking to revisit.
  • The text is heavily detailed, and some users even say that it is one of the best books ever written. Theory of Games and Economic Behavior is an excellent read if you are looking to get serious with applying it in the real world.
  • If you are a researcher or looking to create papers regarding game theory, this would be an excellent text to have as a reference.
  • Some past readers have found that this book is excellent for advanced economic or math students. Some readers believe that the mathematical portions of the text will need a level of at least calculus or above. However, the authors provide a technical note which mentions that no advanced algebra or calculus occurs.

On Sale
Theory of Games and Economic Behavior
Theory of Games and Economic Behavior
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Oskar Morgenstern (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-01-21


The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist's Guide to Success in Business and Life by Avinash K. Dixit, Barry J. Nalebuff

The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist’s Guide to Success in Business and Life is an accessible text which provides users with an overview of game theory as well as real-life applications. The book was originally to be a second edition of Thinking Strategically. However, the authors had another idea in mind. The majority of this text is new and attempts to change the way you think. The book introduces a variety of concepts and explains the logic behind game theory.

What Makes It Unique:

  • The text is divided into three parts. Each chapter focuses on a different area of game theory. The chapters begin with an exploration into how strategic issues may come up. The authors provide examples of right and wrong strategies.
  • Throughout the text, you will find several examples. These examples are taken from a variety of sources like sports, movies, and even pieces of literature. The text presents case studies that outline a variety of circumstances and ask that you attempt to identify the right solution.
  • If you are looking for more ways to apply game theory, the final chapter is comprised of a series of cases. These cases invite you to work to find a solution. Though they start easy, the most difficult cases can be found towards the very end.

Why Choose This Game Theory Book:

  • Some users admitted that this text changed the way they think in a variety of situations. Some users found that this would be an excellent book for a coach or sports manager as it can aid them on how to decide what decisions to make in times of high pressure.
  • Many readers found that the authors did a great job of providing an ample amount of practical examples to help you better understand game theory.
  • Though some users found the book humorous and enlightening other readers found the text to be dry. Though even with this dullness, they agreed that the text was of exceptional quality and provided lots of useful information.

On Sale
The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist's Guide to Success in Business and Life
The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist's Guide to Success in Business and Life
  • W. W. Norton & Company
  • Dixit, Avinash K. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-01-22


Runner Ups for Best Game Theory Textbooks

Game Theory: An Introduction by Steven Tadelis

Game Theory: An Introduction aims to provide readers with an overview of what game theory is and how it is used. Within the book, the author discusses a variety of topics, including signaling games, reputation building, and so much more. Contrary to similar texts, the book opens with the concept of rationality. This is an excellent text for college students, graduates, and undergraduate.

What Makes It Unique:

  • Game Theory: An Introduction is an excellent text for students. It includes selected solutions within the book as well as covering dynamic and static games. The information levels of the game vary.
  • The text also features a variety of applications, exercises, and examples.
  • The text is divided into a series of parts. These parts include Rational Decision Making, Statistic Games of Complete Information, Dynamic Games of Complete Information, Static Games of Incomplete Information and Dynamic Games of Incomplete Information.
  • The text aims to present users with the main ideas of the field as well as showing how it can be applied to a variety of situations.
  • The text uses simple motivating examples to begin before going into more extensive scale examples — the text aids in making sure that the reader understands the information.
  • The Summary and Exercises section of the text contains critical information to take away about a specific unit, while the exercises section includes an ample amount of questions for students to practice and apply what they have learned.

Why Choose This Game Theory Book:

  • Calculus and basic probability are needed to comprehend the items within this text fully.
  • The authors are confident that first-year graduate students in economics or political science would do well with this text. Yet the book contains more material than that of a one-semester course.
  • Game Theory: An Introduction is also an excellent text if you are thinking about self-studying the concept of game theory.
  • The book can sometimes be a bit demanding but is still rewarding to the avid learner. The text introduces several mathematical concepts and notions. These items are also thoroughly explained in the appendix of the book. May students may not need the appendix. However, it is there.

On Sale
Game Theory: An Introduction
Game Theory: An Introduction
  • Princeton University Press
  • Hardcover Book
  • Tadelis, Steven (Author)

Last update: 2021-01-21


Introducing Game Theory: A Graphic Guide by Ivan Pastine, Tuvana Pastine & Tom Humberstone

Introducing Game Theory: A Graphic Guide is a great beginner guide to navigating game theory. The text looks to examine the realm of human behavior. Tom Humberstone’s illustrations bring the book to life and add an element that you don’t always see within Game Theory texts.

What Makes It Unique:

  • Throughout the text, you will find critical words bolded. These are essential words within game theory that students should know and be able to understand.
  • The text opens with a chapter entitled “What is game theory?”. It presents a conversational tone of reading for readers who may not be as familiar with the more technical jargon.
  • The illustrations presented throughout the text present readers with real-world imagery of game theory concepts.
  • This is an excellent text to use if you are not a mathematically inclined person. It includes general explanations of information without all of the mathematics, which may be hard for some users to follow.

Why Choose This Game Theory Book:

  • The text provides everyday life examples that all readers can relate to. Readers found the cartoons enjoyable, and they even made them laugh. If you are looking for a delightful introductory text, this is perfect.
  • Within Introducing Game Theory: A Graphic Guide, some users found that the guide was extremely useful and that the images grounded the information.
  • The text flows naturally and provides a foundation for other game theory texts.

Introducing Game Theory: A Graphic Guide
Introducing Game Theory: A Graphic Guide
  • ICON
  • Pastine, Ivan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-01-21


Value Picks for Best Game Theory Textbooks

Game Theory 101: The Complete Textbook Paperback by William Spaniel

Game Theory 101 is a textbook that aims to give readers an introduction to the idea of game theory as well as games. The text provides a series of games which increase in complexity as the book progresses. This is an excellent textbook for political science students as well as students taking macroeconomics.

What Makes It Unique:

  • Game Theory 101 provides a variety of realistic examples of how to utilize game theory. This can be through everyday application as well as large scale options.
  • Many readers find that using the text in conjunction with William Spaniels YouTube channel is an excellent way to comprehend the material thoroughly.
  • Each chapter goes in-depth with a different game, starting with the famous prisoner’s dilemma. This is the oldest and most studied model within game theory.

Why Choose This Game Theory Book:

  • The author provides clear explanations of game theory as well as providing tools and resources for how to utilize an abundance of games.
  • If you are a student or professor in need of an excellent text to help you understand game theory, this is it. This text is excellent for professors who need a refresher before teaching the concept to their class or for struggling students.
  • Game Theory 101 is an excellent text for non-math majors or experts. You do not have to be a math whiz, you need to have a basic understanding of algebra. This is the perfect text for an entry-level 101 course.

Game Theory 101: The Complete Textbook
Game Theory 101: The Complete Textbook
  • Spaniel, William (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 276 Pages - 09/03/2011 (Publication Date) - CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (Publisher)

Last update: 2021-01-21


How to Choose the Best Game Theory Textbooks for You

You’re probably wondering how you should go about choosing the best game theory textbook. If you are a newbie to the theory, it may be hard to know what to buy or where to look for answers. We have put together a list of pertinent questions you should ask when thinking about game theory as well as general textbook hunting. We hope this list will aid you in narrowing down, not just the options on this list but the numerous other options you may find.

Are you studying or taking a class?

This is a pertinent question when thinking about purchasing textbooks. If you are searching for books for a class, most professors will provide you with a list of texts that they find feasible or a required text that you have to purchase. This option does not always allow for the most flexibility.

However, if you are in a class and struggling with the assigned texts, it may be time to find something new to supplement. If you are self-studying, you will have a lot more questions to ask yourself. However, you will essentially have the option to create your path and curriculum.

Should my text be a general overview of game theory or an in-depth analysis? Am I looking for a book that is more mathematically focused?

When looking for the best game theory textbooks, there are many options you can choose from. However, these options will offer a varying level of depth and detail. You will need to determine if you are looking for a book that will give you a general overview of everything or a more focused text.

Aside from the level of detail, your book will include, you should also determine what level of mathematics you are looking to use. Being that game theory was created by two mathematicians and an economics professor, finding moderate level math within your texts should not come as a surprise.

However, if you are not looking for a book that contains ample math, that should be noted. There are several texts which do a fantastic job of explaining game theory without the mathematical components.

Are you looking for a general overview or a specific topic to game theory?

There are several topics that students can look into involving game theory. Your textbooks can be general, or they can be geared at a specific area of game theory. Particular topics include equilibrium, trembling hand perfect, and several others. Books can also be gauged toward specific games that you are looking to find information on.

What do you already know about game theory? Do you have prior knowledge?

If you are someone who has prior knowledge of game theory or you have applied the approach within your real life, a beginner text may not be the thing for you. Instead, more technical books, like the Theory of Games and Economic Behavior or Evolutionary Game Theory, maybe a better fit.

What is the best book for learning game theory the first time?

If you are new to the concept of game theory and you are looking for the most basic text to provide you with an overview, you have quite a few options to choose from. However, readers generally recommend Game Theory: An Introduction by Steven Tadelis or even Introducing Game Theory: A Graphic Guide by Ivan Pastine, Tuvana Pastine & Tom Humberstone.

Wrapping Up the Best Game Theory Textbooks

Game Theory is not an easy task to grasp. Being that it is the study of mathematical models of conflict, cooperation, and negotiation, it can be hard to process the details fully. Game theory can be applied in several realistic situations. It is often used to describe and explain behavior.

The texts in this list are some of the most recommended by students and game theory enthusiasts. These texts are meant to help you understand what game theory is and how to use it in the real world. If you are looking for texts specifically designed for beginners to begin learning the basics of game theory and the principles behind it, we have the perfect books for you.

Introducing Game Theory: A Graphic Guide and Game Theory: An Introductionare two texts which take game theory down to the simplest terms possible. Both are written clearly, thorough, and easy to understand. The lists provide the best game theory textbooks for getting users acclimated to the theory.

If you are not fond of the books within this list, we have also provided you with several questions to aid you in choosing your own. When picking a text, you should consider not only the level of expertise needed for it but also the level of math which will be necessary. You must even think if this is a self-study book or a text which will be used within the classroom.

These are only a subset of the questions that you can use to choose the best game theory textbook. We hope that this list can provide you with useful texts to aid you in your game theory journey. Happy Hunting!

If you found this post helpful, check out our other comprehensive textbook reviews.

Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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