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A Grand Central Value Game

by Dan Robles on March 7, 2011

Few people realize that there is nothing new about the Social Graph.  Facebook did not invent it – in fact, Graph Theory is a branch of discrete mathematics that was first developed back in the 1700’s by a Swiss Physicist named Leonard Euler.

Likewise, Zynga did not invent Game Theory.  Again, Game theory is a branch of Applied Mathematics with origins dating back to the 1700’s in a paper by James Waldegrave.

A Graph Theory and Game Theory Mash-up

It follows that The Ingenesist Project is not the first to mix graph theory and game theory to form A Value Game.  While I cannot pinpoint the first example of this, I did recently find an article in American Heritage Magazine Invention and Technology magazine about what appears to be an excellent early example of A Value Game.

Not So Grand Central Station

In the late 1800’s, New York City’s Central Train Station was clearly not so grand.  It amounted to a huge surface train depot with dozens of parallel lines and platforms covered by a huge structure that filled with smoke from the old steam engines.  The train yard bisected 17 blocks of neighborhoods where soot and ash rained everywhere.  The station created widespread urban blight and health issues for dozens of city blocks surrounding the terminal.

Politicians and the Railroad Companies tried to correct the problems but every proposed solution created ten more problems.  Too many trains, not enough land, technological struggles, funding, traffic, property values, pollution, safety, collisions, politics, noise, fires, were only a few of the problems in conflict.

Today, Grand Central Station is a model of ingenuity resulting from a brilliant and engaging solution to a complex problem.  A remarkable Engineer named William J. Wilgus had created something that looks a great deal like a modern Value Game.

Three Dimensions to A Value Game

His first challenge was to pay for the construction of a new station.  His second challenge was to build the station without closing the existing station.  His third challenge was to not use any more land.

His solution was to bury the station.  He made the walls of his underground structure strong enough to support large buildings (now skyscrapers) above.  He then used the huge real estate market gains to finance the project

Grand Central Valley Game:

In this case, the very important railroad station was the shared asset.  Player 1 was the community (politicians) surrounding the station, player 2 was the real estate market, and player 3 was the railroads.  Each acting in their best interest collaborated to arrive at a solution to what was considered an impossible problem.

With the advent of Social Media and collaborative gaming technologies, “Value Games” may be created to solve many of the world’s most complex problems while also releasing vast amounts of value to a social system simply by reorganizing the same players on a three dimensional playing field interacting around any shared asset.

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