Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Amateurs, Research and the
Public Understanding of Science
be spoken in order to win; it is by considering
these nuances that we learn to transfer meaning
from one domain to another. Game rules tend
to imply further rules or patterns such as Huff
in Draughts; pin in chess; ko, seki, eternal life,
and life in Go; some of these implied rules may
demonstrate self-organisation or emergence as in
John Conway's no-player Game of Life: thus a
language develops.
Games can produce a higher descriptive lan-
guage of tactics and strategy that help us evaluate
the status of the game from a more holistic perspec-
tive. Tactics are lower level and have local effects
they include fork, pin and skewer in chess; pincer,
cut, connect, attach, extend, peep and placement in
Go. Strategies are higher level with global effects
and they require us, to measure imponderables
such as material, space, and tempo in chess and
territory, thickness, and urgency in Go (Senseis,
2010); to make a risk-analysis and choose a flex-
ible plan such as to sacrifice, exchange, invade,
attack, escape or wait. In addition, we may study
tewari, a form of dead reckoning that compares
our recent past with alternatives that bring us to
the same place by other routes; tewari is also used
for forecasting.
It is natural for humans to develop and extend
language to describe a game, understanding game
vocabularies helps us to improve our play and helps
us communicate. All the games we've mentioned
have a few simple rules, yet demonstrate such
profound structures that they have produced and
require vocabularies that can extend to over a
hundred words. Because each of these vocabular-
ies relates to a limited domain, its mathematical
description, an algorithm, is easier to define;
however it does remain difficult to code such a
rich language, and we improve our understanding
of problems that face the world, when we design
mathematical tools that engage.
Amateurs and volunteers continue to contribute to
our understanding of the world. Tom Boles (2007)
is an amateur astronomer in the UK; he has person-
ally identified over 127 new Supernovae, which is
a world record. Professional astronomers rely on
him, as they do not have time to scan and search.
He is one highly dedicated amateur. Two amateur
chess players overpowered grandmasters, and the
strongest chess machines, to win the playchess.
com freestyle chess competition in 2005, the rules
allowed for the use of computers (Kasparov, 2010).
However there are projects that do not require
such ability and commitment for instance SETI@
home, which was launched in 1999 and now has
over 3 million contributors, enables anyone with
a networked computer to download and install a
screen-saver program that analyses radio telescope
data in a Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence.
But humans as well as computers can be put to
work, what Luis von Ahn has named the power
of human cycles. About ten years ago in 2000, he
was asked by Yahoo to find an online means to
separate humans from software-robots, he recog-
nised that reading is a human skill that computers
cannot yet replicate well and created Captcha, in
which we read some poorly rendered characters
and type them in. He refined this concept and
launched reCaptcha, which enables us to perform
useful work, around 200 million of us contribute
expertise to OCR scanning of historical documents
such as the New York Times archive and make it
more accurate (2008). Amateurs and volunteers
given the right tools are clearly capable of far
more than this, in the days and weeks following
the earthquake in January 2010 on Haiti, thousands
of volunteers updated available maps, which had
been extremely basic, and published them to the
web on (2010) using a Creative
Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 copyright
licence. These maps are now used by government
agencies and relief agencies in their work.
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