Self-organization and survival are inextricably bound to an agent's ability to control and anticipate its environment. Here we assess both skills when multiple agents compete for a scarce resource. Drawing on insights from psychology, microsociology and control theory, we examine how different assumptions about the behaviour of an agent's peers in the anticipation process affect subjective control and survival strategies. To quantify control and drive behaviour, we use the recently developed information-theoretic quantity of empowerment with the principle of empowerment maximization. In two experiments involving extensive simulations, we show that agents develop risk-seeking, risk-averse and mixed strategies, which correspond to greedy, parsimonious and mixed behaviour. Although the principle of empowerment maximization is highly generic, the emerging strategies are consistent with what one would expect from rational individuals with dedicated utility models. Our results support empowerment maximization as a universal drive for guided self-organization in collective agent systems.