“GAME-CHANGER” — W.W. Norton, Jan 2014; order heretranslations available in Complex Chinese (China)Complex Chinese (Taiwan)PortugueseRomanian.

Praise for “Game-Changer”


— R. Preston McAfee, Microsoft, Chief Economist

“David McAdams’s Game-Changer is a rare book: a NONTECHNICAL FIRST INTRODUCTION TO GAME THEORY that also offers a fresh perspective on how the best strategy for playing a game can often be to change the rules. I can see that I’ll have lots of opportunities to recommend it.”

— Alvin E. Roth, Stanford University, winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Economics

“For those who are new to the subject, the book provides an accessible and broad introduction to the possibilities of game theory, which will facilitate new ways of thinking outside the box about strategic situations. Academic economists, on the other hand, will appreciate the TROVE OF WELL-CHOSEN AND COLORFUL EXAMPLES.”

— JEL review by Benjamin Brooks, December 2014

What is a “Game-Changer”?

According to Merriam Webster (the dictionary):

  • game changer (noun): “a newly introduced element or factor that changes an existing situation or activity in a significant way”

According to W.W. Norton (my publisher):

  • GAME-CHANGER (proper noun): “a path-breaking, paradigm-busting, utterly readable romp through the game theory of business and of life” that offers “a radically new, and easily learned, way to outstrategize your rivals”

According to “GAME-CHANGER” (my book):

  • game-changer (noun): “the deliberate transformation of a strategic situation by a Game-Changer”
  • Game-Changer (noun): “a person who recognizes strategic opportunities and catalyzes positive change through his/her mastery of the art of transforming strategic situations”

According to Publishers’ Weekly (book review):

  • GAME-CHANGER (proper noun): new book that delivers “nifty insights [on the] complex, subtle, often perverse incentives that creep into business and social interactions” and “enlightening discussions about the role of regulations, cartels and collusion, retaliation and punishment, trust and ongoing relationships, and transparency of actions in shaping economic and social behavior.”

According to Booklist (book review):

  • GAME-CHANGER (proper noun): “an eye-opening treatise on how game theory can help you solve problems not only in the business world but in everyday life as well.”

According to Kirkus (book review — Kirkus Star):

  • GAME-CHANGER (proper noun): new book that “transforms the concept of game theory” and “provides actionable insights in order to improve understanding and predictive capabilities [to] enrich the lives of families and individuals,” with “real-life lessons presented in a readily accessible way for the benefit of nonbusiness readers.”

Brief Description of “GAME-CHANGER” [catalog copy]Finally, a business book that lives up to its title.  Every professional will see the world differently after reading it.“Freedom to chart one’s strategic destiny comes only to those game-aware enough to rise above the game, and determined enough to change the game to their own advantage.” So writes David McAdams in this path-breaking, paradigm-busting, utterly readable romp through the game theory of business and of life.

You’ll emerge from this book as a “Game-Changer” yourself, more aware of the strategic interactions (or “games”) in your life and empowered with a ready-to-use set of methods to change those games to your advantage.

Part 1 introduces the “Game-Changer’s Toolkit,” six ways to change games, using the Prisoners’ Dilemma as a recurring example of a solvable strategic challenge.  Part 2 then presents six “Game-Changer Files” on a wide variety of pressing strategic problems, from how to keep prices low on the internet to how to win our battle with infectious disease, once and for all.

Less Brief Description of “GAME-CHANGER” [jacket copy]

A radically new, and easily learned, way to out-strategize your rivals.

“The wise win before they fight, while the ignorant fight to win.” So wrote Zhuge Liang, the great Chinese military strategist.  He was referring to battlefield tactics, but the same can be said about any strategic situation.  Even seemingly certain defeat can be turned into victory–whether in battle, business, or life–by those with the strategic vision to recognize how to “change the game” to their own advantage.

The aim of David McAdams’s GAME-CHANGER is nothing less than to empower you with this wisdom–not just to win in every strategic situation (or “game”) you face, but to change those games and the ecosystems in which they reside, to transform your life and our lives together for the better.

GAME-CHANGER develops six basic ways to change games–commitment, regulation, cartelization, retaliation, trust, and relationships–enlivened by countless colorful characters and unforgettable examples from the worlds of business, medicine, finance, military history, crime, sport, and more.

The book then digs into several real-world strategic challenges, such as how to keep prices low on the Internet, how to restore the public’s lost trust in for-charity telemarketers, and even how to save mankind from looming and seemingly unstoppable drug-resistant disease. In each case, McAdams uses the game-theory approach developed in the book to identify the strategic crux of the problem and then leverages that “game-awareness” to brainstorm ways to change the game to solve or at least mitigate the underlying problem.

So, get ready for a fascinating journey. You’ll emerge a deeper strategic thinker, poised to change and win all the games you play.  In doing so, you can also make the world a better place. “Just one Game-Changer is enough to seed and transform an entire organization into a more productive, happier, and altogether better place,” McAdams writes. Just imagine what we can do together.