Define: Zero-Sum Game

UK Accounting Glossary

Definition: Zero-Sum Game

Quick Summary of Zero-Sum Game

In game theory and economic theory, a zero-sum game is a mathematical representation of a situation in which each participant’s gain or loss of utility is exactly balanced by the losses or gains of the utility of the other participants.

What is the dictionary definition of Zero-Sum Game?

Dictionary Definition

A game in which the sum of the pay-offs to players is zero for every outcome.

In a non-competitive two-player zero-sum game a positive pay-off for one player implies a negative pay-off (of equal value) for the other player.

Zero-sum games represent direct opposition between the interests of the players and examples are often used to method to model conflict.


Full Definition of Zero-Sum Game


Zero-Sum Game FAQ's

What is an example of a zero sum game?

Poker and gambling are popular examples of zerosum games since the sum of the amounts won by some players equals the combined losses of the others.

In game theory, the game of “Matching Pennies” is often cited as an example of a zerosum game.

Cite Term

To help you cite our definitions in your bibliography, here is the proper citation layout for the three major formatting styles, with all of the relevant information filled in.

Page URL
Modern Language Association (MLA):
Zero-Sum Game. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. November 21, 2019
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):
Zero-Sum Game. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. (accessed: November 21, 2019).
American Psychological Association (APA):
Zero-Sum Game. Retrieved November 21, 2019, from website:

Definition Sources

Definitions for Zero-Sum Game are sourced/syndicated from:

This glossary post was last updated: 5th May 2019.