some time ago I had a very nice chat with someone who studied game design. We talked about theory and I asked him if there were any standard works, books about game theory that are a must read. He said they did not use those at his college but he did explain that there was one basic theory that was central to all design. I can't remember the name of the theory (or whether it had a formal name) but it ran something like this:
Interaction works in cycles. Every cycle consists of three phases:
- Presentation: give the player/person a choice to do something
- Action: the player/person takes the action
- Reward: there is some kind of reward for the action
He argued that you can break down most things (including games) into this, and it can help you to figure out why people do stuff, and how you can make your games better.
I've been googling for this, but have not found any specific game theory results. Perhaps it is more behavioral psychology, but it seems very relevant to games. So I was hoping someone would recognize this theory and could point me in the right direction.