Zero-sum game

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1. Game theory.

Strictly, a zero-sum game is one in which the total wealth or utility of all participants adds up to exactly zero, regardless of the outcome.

Therefore any individual participant can only gain by disadvantaging others.

Win-win strategies are therefore not appropriate or effective.


The term is also used more loosely, to describe any situation in which further intervention or analysis are considered not to be warranted, because no net benefits are likely to be achieved.

See also