The Pasta Wars: A Prisoner’s Dilemma Simulation-Game

Noam Ebner

Creighton University School of Law – Werner Institute for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution

Yifat Winkler

Winkler Law Offices


Ebner, N. & Winkler, Y. , (2008) PASTA WARS: A prisoner’s dilemma simulation-game. Simulation & Gaming 40(1), 134-146

The PASTA WARS is a four-party negotiation / conflict simulation-game, in which participants must decide recurrently whether to adopt a cooperative stance or a competitive strategy towards one another. Participants are formed into four groups, each of which manages a flour mill that is attempting to sell its produce to a single purchaser, the local pasta restaurant, over a series of rounds. Each mill’s profitability is dependent not only on its own manufacturing strategy but also on that of the three other mills. In this way, they are subtly placed in an iterated four-way Prisoner’s Dilemma, and they must maneuver, in an environment of limited communication, to develop relationships with each other and to build trust as a means of enabling personal and joint gain.

This document contains all materials needed to conduct the simulation-game, as well as notes for teachers on game-management and debrief.

The Pasta Wars- A Prisoner’s Dilemma Simulation-Game

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