Gaming the system

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For the Wikipedia guideline, see Wikipedia:Gaming the system.

Gaming the system (also referred to as gaming the rules, bending the rules, abusing the system, milking the system, playing the system, or working the system) can be defined as using the rules and procedures meant to protect a system in order, instead, to manipulate the system for a desired outcome.[1]

According to James Rieley, the American banker, structures in companies and organizations (both explicit and implicit policies and procedures, stated goals, and mental models) drive behaviors that are detrimental to long-term organizational success and stifle competition.[2] For some,[who?] error is the essence of gaming the system, in which a gap in protocol allows for errant practices that lead to unintended results.[3]

Examples[edit]

Finance[edit]

Henry Paulson, considering that the Late-2000s financial crisis demonstrated that our financial markets had outgrown the ability of our current system to regulate them, saw as one necessity a better framework that featured less duplication and that restricted the ability of financial firms to pick and choose their own, generally less-strict regulators - a practice known as regulatory arbitrage[4] that enabled widespread gaming of the regulatory system.

A similar, contributing effect has been identified within corporate rating systems, where gaming the system becomes virulent when formalization is combined with transparency.[5]

Online[edit]

Designers of online communities are explicitly warned that whenever you create a system for managing a community, someone will try to work it to their advantage.[6] Accordingly they are advised from the start to think like a bad guy and to consider what behaviors you are unintentionally encouraging by creating some new social rules for your community.[7]

Others however would valorise the libertarian implications of the loophole, arguing that gaming the system, for all the harm it presents to the collective endeavour of a project such as Wikipedia, likewise marks a potential in its own right and emphasizes the continuing role of agency in the singular event.[8]

Other[edit]

Eric Berne identified a kind of gaming the system in a clinical context through what he called the game of "Psychiatry", with its motto "You will never cure me, but you will teach me to be a better neurotic (play a better game of 'Psychiatry')."[9] A few patients, he noted, carefully pick weak psychoanalysts, moving from one to another, demonstrating that they can't be cured and meanwhile learning to play a sharper and sharper game of 'Psychiatry;' eventually it becomes difficult for even a first-rate clinician to separate the wheat from the chaff.[9]

Child-rearing[edit]

Parental divisions on child-rearing will always give the child plenty of opportunity to play one parent off against the other.[10] Object relations theory stresses, however, that while, if a child finds one parent easy to get round, compared with the other who is trying to set limits, it is likely to take advantage of that split this is always a hollow triumph.[11] What the child is really hoping is that such parents will eventually begin to see a need to get together on the issue of limit-setting.[11]

On the particular point of contingent feeding — offering treats on condition that a certain unpopular food is eaten — it has been specifically noted that contingent feeding encourages children to argue and practice gaming the system fighting over the fine print.[12]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Joseph Potvin. "The Great Due Date of 2008, slide 5". (membership required)
  2. ^ James Rieley (April 2001). Gaming the System: how to stop playing the organizational game and start playing the competitive game. ISBN 978-0-273-65419-3. 
  3. ^ Mark Nunes[who?], Error (2010) p. 188
  4. ^ Hank Paulson, On the Brink (London 2010) p. 441
  5. ^ M. Lounsbury/P. M. Hirsch, Markets on Trial (2010) p. 147
  6. ^ Gavin Bell, Building Social Web Applications (2009) p. 274
  7. ^ Bell, p. 274
  8. ^ Nunes, p. 188
  9. ^ a b Eric Berne, Games People Play (Penguin) p. 136
  10. ^ Skynner, Robin; Cleese, John (1994). Families and How to Survive Them. London: Cedar. p. 221. ISBN 0-7493-1410-9. 
  11. ^ a b Casement, Patrick (1997). Further Learning from the Patient. London: Routledge. p. 114. ISBN 0-415-05425-7. 
  12. ^ Benaroch, Roy (2008). Solving Health and Behavioral Problems from Birth Through Preschool. Westport: Praeger. p. 132. ISBN 978-0-275-99347-4. 
  13. ^ "The irrational guide to gaming the system". Mind Hacks.