Abstract for: Systemic Complexity of a Growth Management Game: Comparative Analysis of Decision Heuristics and Experimental Results

In this study, using different versions of a growth management game involving two different complexity factors, we compare performances of heuristic rules with experimental results. We present a method for obtaining a statistical distribution of scores resulting from a given simulated decision heuristic, which can be used to compare against and assess experimental gaming results. The method is based on the idea of generating vast number of scores by stochastically simulating a given decision rule and obtaining the resulting score distribution. We use this method to compare scores from different game versions whose scores are essentially not comparable, and to see how the score distributions change from one game version to another. In simulations, we first use a simple random "decision rule" and then develop a more intelligent hill-climbing heuristic. The results show that when the games involve delay, human subjects do not perform better than the random heuristic a primitive rule composed of a sequence of random decisions. On the other hand, in nonlinear games, subjects outperform the random heuristic and their scores fit better the score distribution of the hill-climbing heuristic. We also demonstrate how the score distribution from random heuristic can be used as a reference performance measure.