Top Game Theory Textbooks


This webpage provides an up-to-date list of the top game theory textbooks.
Rankings are based upon the number of syllabi in which a game theory book has appeared since 2015 (source: opensyllabus.org).
The most recent edition of each book is provided.

1.  An Introduction to Game Theory

Author(s): Martin J. Osborne
Publication date: 2003-08-07
ISBN: 0195128958
ISBN-13: 9780195128956

Game-theoretic reasoning pervades economic theory and is used widely in other social and behavioral sciences. An Introduction to Game Theory, by Martin J. Osborne, presents the main principles of game theory and shows how they can be used to understand economic, social, political, and biological phenomena. The book introduces in an accessible manner the main ideas behind the theory rather than their mathematical expression. All concepts are defined precisely, and logical reasoning is used throughout. The book requires an understanding of basic mathematics but assumes no specific knowledge of economics, political science, or other social or behavioral sciences.
Coverage includes the fundamental concepts of strategic games, extensive games with perfect information, and coalitional games; the more advanced subjects of Bayesian games and extensive games with imperfect information; and the topics of repeated games, bargaining theory, evolutionary equilibrium, rationalizability, and maxminimization. The book offers a wide variety of illustrations from the social and behavioral sciences and more than 280 exercises. Each topic features examples that highlight theoretical points and illustrations that demonstrate how the theory may be used. Explaining the key concepts of game theory as simply as possible while maintaining complete precision, An Introduction to Game Theory is ideal for undergraduate and introductory graduate courses in game theory.

2.  Game Theory for Applied Economists

Author(s): Robert Gibbons
Publication date: 1992-07-13
ISBN: 0691003955
ISBN-13: 9780691003955

This book introduces one of the most powerful tools of modern economics to a wide audience: those who will later construct or consume game-theoretic models. Robert Gibbons addresses scholars in applied fields within economics who want a serious and thorough discussion of game theory but who may have found other works overly abstract. Gibbons emphasizes the economic applications of the theory at least as much as the pure theory itself; formal arguments about abstract games play a minor role. The applications illustrate the process of model building--of translating an informal description of a multi-person decision situation into a formal game-theoretic problem to be analyzed. Also, the variety of applications shows that similar issues arise in different areas of economics, and that the same game-theoretic tools can be applied in each setting. In order to emphasize the broad potential scope of the theory, conventional applications from industrial organization have been largely replaced by applications from labor, macro, and other applied fields in economics. The book covers four classes of games, and four corresponding notions of equilibrium: static games of complete information and Nash equilibrium, dynamic games of complete information and subgame-perfect Nash equilibrium, static games of incomplete information and Bayesian Nash equilibrium, and dynamic games of incomplete information and perfect Bayesian equilibrium.

3.  A Primer in Game Theory

Author(s): Robert Gibbons
Publication date: 1992-06-01
ISBN: 0745011594
ISBN-13: 9780745011592

Game theory has revolutionized economics research and teaching during the past two decades. There are few undergraduate or graduate courses in which it does not form a core component. Game theory is the study of multi-decision problems and such problems occur frequently in economics. Industrial organization provides many examples where firms must consider the reactions of others. But there are many other areas in which it is applicable - from individual workers vying for promotion to countries competing or colluding to choose trade policies. Bob Gibbons provides an introduction to the branches of game theory that have been widely applied in economics. He emphasizes the applications as much as the pure theory. This not only helps to teach the theory, but also illustrates the process of model building - the process of translating an informal description of a multi-person decision situation into a formal, game theoretic problem to be analyzed. The approach aims to serve as both an introduction to those who will go on to specialize as pure game-theorists. It also introduces game theory to those who will later construct (or at least use) game-theoretic models in applied fields of economics.

4.  Game Theory (The MIT Press)

Author(s): Drew Fudenberg, Jean Tirole
Publication date: 1991-08-29
ISBN: 0262061414
ISBN-13: 9780262061414

This advanced text introduces the principles of noncooperative game theory in a direct and uncomplicated style that will acquaint students with the broad spectrum of the field while highlighting and explaining what they need to know at any given point.

This advanced text introduces the principles of noncooperative game theory―including strategic form games, Nash equilibria, subgame perfection, repeated games, and games of incomplete information―in a direct and uncomplicated style that will acquaint students with the broad spectrum of the field while highlighting and explaining what they need to know at any given point. The analytic material is accompanied by many applications, examples, and exercises. The theory of noncooperative games studies the behavior of agents in any situation where each agent's optimal choice may depend on a forecast of the opponents' choices. "Noncooperative" refers to choices that are based on the participant's perceived selfinterest. Although game theory has been applied to many fields, Fudenberg and Tirole focus on the kinds of game theory that have been most useful in the study of economic problems. They also include some applications to political science. The fourteen chapters are grouped in parts that cover static games of complete information, dynamic games of complete information, static games of incomplete information, dynamic games of incomplete information, and advanced topics.

5.  Behavioral Game Theory: Experiments in Strategic Interaction (The Roundtable Series in Behavioral Economics)

Author(s): Colin F. Camerer
Publication date: 2003-03-17
ISBN: 0691090394
ISBN-13: 9780691090399

Game theory, the formalized study of strategy, began in the 1940s by asking how emotionless geniuses should play games, but ignored until recently how average people with emotions and limited foresight actually play games. This book marks the first substantial and authoritative effort to close this gap. Colin Camerer, one of the field's leading figures, uses psychological principles and hundreds of experiments to develop mathematical theories of reciprocity, limited strategizing, and learning, which help predict what real people and companies do in strategic situations. Unifying a wealth of information from ongoing studies in strategic behavior, he takes the experimental science of behavioral economics a major step forward. He does so in lucid, friendly prose.


Behavioral game theory has three ingredients that come clearly into focus in this book: mathematical theories of how moral obligation and vengeance affect the way people bargain and trust each other; a theory of how limits in the brain constrain the number of steps of "I think he thinks . . ." reasoning people naturally do; and a theory of how people learn from experience to make better strategic decisions. Strategic interactions that can be explained by behavioral game theory include bargaining, games of bluffing as in sports and poker, strikes, how conventions help coordinate a joint activity, price competition and patent races, and building up reputations for trustworthiness or ruthlessness in business or life.


While there are many books on standard game theory that address the way ideally rational actors operate, Behavioral Game Theory stands alone in blending experimental evidence and psychology in a mathematical theory of normal strategic behavior. It is must reading for anyone who seeks a more complete understanding of strategic thinking, from professional economists to scholars and students of economics, management studies, psychology, political science, anthropology, and biology.

6.  Strategy: An Introduction to Game Theory (Third Edition)

Author(s): Joel Watson
Publication date: 2013-05-09
ISBN: 0393918386
ISBN-13: 9780393918380

The perfect balance of readability and formalism.

Joel Watson has refined his successful text to make it even more student-friendly. A number of sections have been added, and numerous chapters have been substantially revised. Dozens of new exercises have been added, along with solutions to selected exercises. Chapters are short and focused, with just the right amount of mathematical content and end-of-chapter exercises. New passages walk students through tricky topics.

7.  A Course in Game Theory (The MIT Press)

Author(s): Martin J. Osborne, Ariel Rubinstein
Publication date: 1994-07-12
ISBN: 0262650401
ISBN-13: 9780262650403

A Course in Game Theory presents the main ideas of game theory at a level suitable for graduate students and advanced undergraduates, emphasizing the theory's foundations and interpretations of its basic concepts. The authors provide precise definitions and full proofs of results, sacrificing generalities and limiting the scope of the material in order to do so. The text is organized in four parts: strategic games, extensive games with perfect information, extensive games with imperfect information, and coalitional games. It includes over 100 exercises.

8.  Algorithmic Game Theory

Author(s): Noam Nisan, Tim Roughgarden, Eva Tardos, Vijay V. Vazirani
Publication date: 2007-09-24
ISBN: 0521872820
ISBN-13: 9780521872829

In the last few years game theory has had a substantial impact on computer science, especially on Internet- and e-commerce-related issues. More than 40 of the top researchers in this field have written chapters that go from the foundations to the state of the art. Basic chapters on algorithmic methods for equilibria, mechanism design and combinatorial auctions are followed by chapters on incentives and pricing, cost sharing, information markets and cryptography and security. Students, researchers and practitioners alike need to learn more about these fascinating theoretical developments and their widespread practical application.

9.  Games and Information: An Introduction to Game Theory

Author(s): Eric Rasmusen
Publication date: 2006-11-28
ISBN: 1405136669
ISBN-13: 9781405136662

Written in a crisp and approachable style, Games and Information uses simple modeling techniques and straightforward explanations to provide students with an understanding of game theory and information economics.

  • Written for introductory courses seeking a little rigor.
  • The 4th edition brings the material fully up-to-date and includes new end-of-chapter problems and classroom projects, as well as a math appendix.
  • Accompanied by a comprehensive website featuring solutions to problems and teaching notes.

10.  Game Theory: An Introduction

Author(s): Steven Tadelis
Publication date: 2013-01-06
ISBN: 0691129088
ISBN-13: 9780691129082

Game Theory: An Introduction introduces readers to the principal ideas and applications of game theory, in a style that combines rigor with accessibility. Steven Tadelis begins with a concise description of rational decision making, and goes on to discuss strategic and extensive form games with complete information, Bayesian games, and extensive form games with imperfect information. He covers a host of topics, including multistage and repeated games, bargaining theory, auctions, rent-seeking games, mechanism design, signaling games, reputation building, and information transmission games. Unlike other books on game theory, this one begins with the idea of rationality and explores its implications for multiperson decision problems through concepts like dominated strategies and rationalizability. Only then does it present the subject of Nash equilibrium and its derivatives.


FacultyBookshelf.org is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.