The Billy Beanes of competitive gaming

Michael Lewis’ book, Moneyball, could be summarized as the failure of competitive Major League Baseball teams to compete in a competitive environment. Among this great fiasco of a market failure is the general manager of the Oakland Athletes, Billy Beane, who applied statistical analysis to build a low cost team of “ugly ducklings” that gave the best bang for the buck. It is the classic story of the underdog who through ingenuity and sufficient cleverness managed to beat Goliath. Lewis attributed the failure of baseball teams to emotional and irrational decision-making that undervalued statistically good players and overvalued the statistically bad ones.

In the arena of competitive real time strategy gaming, an almost diametrically opposite environment has emerged. Every competitive gamer can be considered a “Billy Beane.” Gamers tend to think at the margin, and they think to win. Strategies are played, and counter-strategies are quickly developed. Players then adapt, revise, and rethink their moves until they reached a point where it’s hard to deviate. Gamers called this the metagame; economists would have called it an equilibrium.

Competitive gamers are cost minimizing and benefit maximizing. They also happen to have an encyclopedia of every unit’s statistics in their head. A Starcraft player decides to train a marine much in the same way a baseball general manager like Billy Beane decides to draft a pitcher.

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