Thursday, August 18, 2005

Parlor game.

Let's say I'm hypothetically in possession of a group of hypothetical children, and I'd like to treat them to ice cream, but I'd also like them to learn some fiscal responsibility or some character-building crap like that. Here's the game I create.
  • Every child orders anything desired.
  • We note who spent the most and how much that is.
  • Every child who spent less gets cash equal to the difference between their own order and the big spender's order.
For example:
  • Alice spends $6 on ice cream.
  • Bob spends $5.
  • Charlie spends $4.
As a result, every child gets ice cream, but Bob also gets $1, and Charlie gets $2.

This works if the children really do compete to spend the least. Depending on the kids, they may get confused and ignore the game. They may also decide they care about ice cream more than cash (and ignore the game).

The worst outcome (for me, the ice cream treater) is if the one of the kids really understands the game and clues in the others. They make out like bandits if they cooperate like so: one kid orders for everyone and runs up a huge bill. The others spend zero. Then the one buyer trades ice cream for cash. In the above example, Alice spends $15 for everyone's choices, Bob and Charlie get $15 each, and the three kids then divvy up the money evenly. Each gets $10 plus ice cream.
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