This morning Fossil9 published a blog entry introducing the concept of the game theory to improvie scene quality. It is an interesting approach towards getting a good session for all participants. However, I want to critique it a bit: From what I know of game theory and the prisoner’s dilemma (studying marketing as a major I have only touched game theory in some micro and sociology classes) the players have to have the same goal which they try to maximize. But I see that the only profit both dom and sub want to maximize is satisfaction which I find a too high level goal because every human being is generally striving to satisfaction.
The reason why a dom or a sub engage into a scene is to satisfy a desire but in the rarest cases this desires are complementary thus both dom and sub strive towards a same effect through different actions (a session of a pure sadist with a pure masochist would be one of this rare cases). So to resolve this dilemma you mostly need to “trick” the other part into doing what you want. This leads to the argument that it is part of the prisoner’s dilemma to give in so much to the other’s need that the other person is enjoying their session enough and do what you want so you get the maximum of you satisfaction. But I don’t like this idea of BDSM for two reasons:
- As much as BDSM is a (played and inverted) situation of power asymmetry, in a good scene mutual players come and work together and at least in my world view mutuality contradicts maximizing profits at the expense of the other.
- Sooner or later somebody will feel cheater. This undermines the trust which is necessary for a good, intense and deep scene.
Besides not liking this play style, it is outright stupid. Why play with a person you don’t have a common consent on play style with? In order to get a better scene, I would draw upon two other economic concepts: Coordination and transformation problem solution.
Coordination means finding an offer for your demand. In BDSM terms this means finding someone who shares your likes and your play style which requires you to have at least a rough concept what you want. The advantage of this concept is that it already takes place before the scene thus ensuring a higher level of play and mostly prevents you from bad experiences. Once you have found a right partner or multiple ones the scene faces the transformation problem. This problem deals with the challenges of transforming an abstract concept into something specific, f.i. defines how much force you can apply when the other says he likes ball busting. While coordination is more or less easily achieved (e.g. through questioners, hankies or acronym lists) transformation is much harder because many factors like experience or form of the day alters what the other can take or deliver.
This is the point where you leave the economic concept and turn to good BDSM practice. As I wrote above all players want to get satisfaction (examples would be giving or experiencing pain, humiliation, dominated someone, etc. pp.) and all have an interest in getting it for all participants as good as possible thus enabling future encounters which will be better because the transformation problems recedes further into the background as knowledge of the partner(s) grows. But until you get to this point all partners must give feedback in order to direct each other in the right direction. How to give and to read feedback is something which would stray way to much of topic so I just assume that experienced players know how to do it and that they will teach new players how to act accordingly. The ideal form of this feedback mechanism is that before a scene only taboos are negotiated (= coordinated) and the dom(s) is (are) experienced enough to know how to get the sub(s) where he (they) want(s) him (them) to be. This ensures the dom’s satisfaction and if he is doing it right the sub will equally enjoy the scene. Furthermore both parties can enjoy the satisfaction of success: The dom of getting what he wants thus enforcing the self-concept of him leading the scene and the sub of pleasing the dom which also should enforce his self-concept.
But all theory left aside: We do not torture ourselves or others for the sake of proving a theory. This is one of many ways to ensure a great session and frankly: If you have great sessions with great doms and subs, do not worry too much how you got these. Just enjoy the intense and deep feelings you share with your partner(s).