Lessons from the Prisoner's Dilemma

An interactive tutorial by Martin Poulter, April 2003


  1. Introducing the Game
  2. Play it Yourself
  3. Post-match analysis (1)
  4. Introducing Massive Retaliatory Strike
  5. Post-match analysis (2)
  6. Introducing Tit For Tat
  7. Post-match analysis (3)
  8. Recommended Reading

The Prisoner's Dilemma is a simple game in which there is a tension between individual interests and the common good. It has been studied in Economics, Philosophy and Machine Learning, and its lessons are potentially crucial for understanding human relations, evolution and morality.

This tutorial has been created to allow people to play the game against a variety of computer opponents, and to demonstrate the educational potential of simple interactive Web pages in Javascript.

This tutorial uses Javascript and Style Sheets: If you have a fairly modern Web browser, you should have no trouble with the interactive features.


Attention lecturers: I am interested in helping others create simple interactive tutorials like this. Take a look at our Iterated Game Generator. Contact me if you want these tools adapted for your own purpose.

Creative Commons License
This tutorial is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.