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Wireless network operation intrinsically assumes different forms of cooperation among the network nodes, such as sharing a common wireless medium without interfering, relaying frames belonging to other nodes, controlling the transmission power for optimizing spectrum reuse, coding cooperatively multiple frames for improving information redundancy, and so on. For this reason, Game Theory has been extensively employed to model wireless networks. In particular, we propose a game-theoretic approach for defining a generalized medium access protocol for slotted contention-based channels. Contention-based channels are largely adopted in data networks, e.g. in WiFi and WiMax networks and in some emerging cellular standards. We assume that each node of the network acts as a decision maker or player, and implements a best response strategy on the basis of simple estimators of the network status. When stations are interested in both uploading and downloading traffic, we show that efficient equilibria conditions can be reached. More interesting, these equilibria are reached when all the stations play the same strategy, thus guaranteeing a fair resource sharing. For infrastructure networks, we also propose to exploit the role of the base station to incentive the nodes to operate on the Pareto optimal equilibrium and achieve global optimality and fair performance.