In individual games, like Chess or Poker, when someone wins, others lose.
In team games like Bridge or Baseball, you win or lose as a team.
In other games, like Pandemic (where players work together to cure global diseases) or Mole Rats in Space, there is only one team. The players work together to win or lose together. The only way a competitive player can win is if all the players win together.
It changes the incentives. Suddenly, everyone wants other players to succeed, not fail.
In games, you win by achieving the object of the game. Whether your object is to bankrupt the other property owners, checkmate the opposing king, or solve the problem together, the players will work towards that end.
As international competition gives way to freer trade and globalization, cooperative games give us a window into practicing helping everyone achieve their goals, without compromising our own.
Imagine how it would change climate change negotiations if the negotiators have practiced achieving enough for all, rather than playing for high scores.
We hone our competitive instincts by competing. Perhaps we can get better at cooperating under globalization whether it’s helping Mole Rats in Space make it to their escape pod, or running World Climate, a simplified Climate Negotiations Meeting from Climate Interactive.
We get better at the things we practice. With Cooperative games, we can practice working together which could help us approach approach global civilization the same way.