Friday, December 10, 2004

Big Brother Croatia Update: Game Theory

With most polls suggesting the very clear outcome, T-Com is unlikely to make much of a profit this week with last-minute uncertainty about latest Big Brother evictee. Valentina seems to be on the way out and everyone outside and inside the House doesn't expect any other outcome. Valentina has decided to follow Ana's example and ask Big Brother for Mrvica, House's pet, to be carried with her outside. Denis Tasić (Denis Tasic), Valentina's father, has stated that he was "bored with the game" and that he would prefer his daughter to join his family tonight.

While the eviction isn't predictable, its immediate aftermath – the very last nominations of the show – is almost impossible to predict.

Despite having only five contestants with only to be evicted on Friday, there are so many unanswered questions. The most important question is – what would be housemates' ultimate motive for nominations. They could nominate based on their personal likes and dislikes and spend last 9 days with the people most suited to their company. Or they could nominate based on whom they see as the greatest competitor for the grand prize.

By this time, the audience has probably gathered enough clues to reach consensus of three men preferring each other company rather than final four being made of two men and two women. If the previous voting pattern is anything to go by, then three men and Marina would nominate Antonija. So, Antonija seems certain to be nominated in the next round. That leaves another question – who is going to be set against her. Saša and Zdravko may nominate Marina, although at least Zdravko appears to appreciate Marina's company more than Antonija's. Antonija also may nominate Marina, hoping that her chances for staying are better when set against another woman. But if Saša and/or Zdravko want to be absolutely sure that the woman spending last 9 days with them is Marina, than they could nominate Alen whom they see as the favourite in two-person eviction vote. Furthermore, Marina's eventual eviction might risk bad blood with Alen and unnecessary drama. Alen might even volunteer to be evicted and make those kinds of suggestions during privacy hour. So, in this kind of scenario two most likely nominees are Antonija, Alen and Marina.

If the prime motive of nominations is to eliminate competition for the grand prize, than three men have probably concluded that the winner is not likely to be a woman. Zdravko comfortably expects to survive thanks to teenybopper vote. Saša (Sasa) has probably gathered some clues about his out-of-House popularity from Željko (Zeljko) and the lack of nominations. Alen, despite occasional bout with depression, feels emboldened not only by surviving two nominations, but also by the hundreds of fans who had cheered him. Antonija would also have some reasons to interpret her two survivals with her out-of House popularity (although her friends in RTL Televizija might slip her a different and more correct kind of information in Confessions Room).

In this case, any of the men knows that he is popular, but they don't know whether they are more popular than each other. Therefore, they see each other as their most dangerous competitors and nominations could be a way to eliminate it. Saša and Zdravko might try getting rid of Alen (and, therefore, increasing their own chances) by nominating Alen together with Marina and hope to see Alen fall on his sword and evict himself voluntarily. But this scenario could backfire if Alen refuses to play along and instead of Alen out they have him sob uncontrollably for the last nine days, accuse them of backstabbing and thus sway public sympathies in their favour.

The more elegant way for men to do so is each of them to nominate two other men. Antonija could do the same. Marina, who probably knows that she won't win, might do the same simply in order to evade heart-breaking eviction nine days before the end of the show. So, it is quite possible that the next two nominees might be two men. Saša could nominate Zdravko and Alen. Zdravko could nominate Saša and Alen. Alen could nominate Saša and Zdravko. Marina is most likely to nominate either Saša and Zdravko (whom she had nominated in the past). Antonija might also nominate Saša and Zdravko, fearing that Alen is the most popular housemate of them all. So, if the elimination of competition is the prime motive, Saša, Zdravko and/or Alen – are more likely to be nominated.

As for the chances for survival, opinion polls and public sentiment suggest that the outcome of eviction races are going to be predictable in couple of hours, at least in most of the possible combinations. The only close races, baring vote fraud and more blatant manipulation by RTL Televizija, are those who could be created by pairing Alen against Zdravko and Marina against Antonija.

The nominations are clearly on housemates' minds and some of them express their thoughts in a way which proves to be embarrassing for RTL Televizija. Strict rules against nomination deals aren't applied anymore, partly because of privacy hour, partly because housemates learning to speak in codes. One article which has appeared on RTL Televizija site describes Alen talking to Marina and saying that his friends Saša and Zdravko probably know that he would nominate one of them rather than her. The article quickly disappeared from the site which led to all kinds of speculations about censorship and manipulation.


The article above mentioned apparently was never taken off RTL Televizija site.


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