Tomorrow I’m flying to the world’s greatest experimental game theory conference: GenCon. 25,000 people will play games of every description. If you believe in the project of experimental game theory, it’s a data feast.

I’d probably get audited by the IRS if I tried to deduct this vacation, but we all know that the IRS makes mistakes. In truth, I’m more likely to learn more about the nature of man at GenCon than I am at the AEA meetings.

Like what? At least for me, one of the main lessons of GenCon is that people often act very differently in games than they do in “real life.” For example, on Friday, I’m going to be role-playing a soldier in the Vietnam War. In all likelihood, I’ll be heroically brave, repeatedly risking my life to save my buddies. But if I were actually a grunt in Vietnam, I’d probably be curled up in a fetal position.

Why the difference? Partly it’s the stakes; I’m more willing to risk the life of a fictional character. But partly I’m just trying to be a good sport. I suspect that a lot of people in behavioral experiments do the same.

P.S. If you see me at GenCon, don’t hesitate to say hi!