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Computer Games and Economics Experiments

Chen, Kay-Yut; Wu, Ren

HPL-2002-309

Keyword(s): experimental economics; game theory; agent; software platform

Abstract: HP Labs has developed a software platform, called MUMS, for moderating economics games between human and/or robot participants. The primary feature of this platform is a flexible scripting language that allows a researcher to implement any economics games in a relative short time. This scripting language eliminates the need to program low-level functions such as networking, databases and interface components. The scripts are descriptions of games including definitions of roles, timing rules, the game tree (in a stage format), input and output (with respect to a role, not client software). Definitions of variables and the use of common mathematical and logical operations are also allowed to provide maximum flexibility in handling the logic of games. This platform has been used to implement a wide variety of business related games including variations of a retailer game with simulated consumers and complex business rules, a double sided call market and negotiation in a procurement scenario. These games are constructed to accurately simulate HP business environments. Carefully calibrated experiments, with human subjects whose incentives were controlled by monetary compensations, were conducted to test how different business strategies result in different market behavior. For example, the retailer game was used to test how the market reacts to changes of HP's contract terms such as return policies. Experiment results were used in major HP consumer businesses to make policy decisions.

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