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What is a game? EST310/ISE340 Fall 2011 Tony Scarlatos

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Games through the ages c BC – Dice (Assyria) Originally fashioned from animal knuckle bones, used in divination (fortune telling) Introduces random chance into gameplay

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Games through the ages c BC – Royal Game of Ur (Mesopotamia) A race game, probably the ancestor of backgammon

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Games through the ages c BC – Senet (Egypt) The game may have originally evolved from a calendar The game had religious significance, it is mentioned in the Book of the Dead Below left: Queen Nefertari plays Senet

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Games through the ages c BC – Mancala A “sowing” or “count & capture” game Mancala comes from the Arabic word “naqala”, meaning “to move” May have evolved from a crude calculator (e.g. a type of abacus)

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Games through the ages c BC – Nine Men’s Morris A two-player strategy game, the name refers to the number of player’s pieces, the objective is to capture opponent’s pieces Popular from the Roman empire through the Middle Ages

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Games through the ages c. 100 AD – Tabula The name means “table” in Latin Direct ancestor of Backgammon Below: citizens of Pompeii play Tabula, captured in a fresco

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Games through the ages c. 400 AD – Go (Japan) Comes from Chinese game of Wei-qi (c BC) 2 player strategy game

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Games through the ages c AD – Chess (originally 650 AD from India) Below right: Knights Templar play chess Bottom: the famous Isle of Lewis chess pieces

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Games through the ages c AD – Tarot and other card games c AD – Cribbage c AD - Bridge

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Games through the ages 1860 – Milton Bradley publishes The Checkered Game of Life 1960 – The game is reintroduced, simply titled “LIFE”

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Games through the ages c – Chinese Checkers published in the west 1924 – The Landlord’s Game, predecessor to Monopoly, patented by Elizabeth Magie

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Why play? Voluntary and intrinsically motivated activity, for ‘pleasure’ Evident among all species with complex nervous systems (i.e. mammals & birds), especially when they are maturing “Rehearsal for real life” – preparation of skills that will be needed later – with lower risk/consequences Social play, locomotor play, and object play are three commonly identified types Neuroscientists generally hold that play helps to “wire” the connections in the cerebellum as the individual matures

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Play

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Benefits of Play American Academy of Pediatrics: “free and unstructured play is healthy and – in fact – essential for helping children reach important social, emotional, and cognitive developmental milestones as well as helping them manage stress and become resilient.” UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: “Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.” Play as a foundation of learning has been espoused by psychologists such as Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky, as well as technologists such as Seymour Papert

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Games, Puzzles, and Toys Toys: no rules, no goals Puzzles: few (mostly implicit) rules, but a goal Games: rules and goal Is playing with dolls a game? Is a crossword or jigsaw puzzle a game? Is building a model airplane a game? Is soccer a game? Is skiing? Why is a global sports event called “the Olympic Games”?

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So what is a game? Play activity Pretend reality Achieve a goal according to the rules The “Magic Circle”: the play space (tennis court, court of law, temple) separate from real life

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The Magic Circle “All play moves and has its being within a play-ground marked off beforehand either materially or ideally, deliberately or as a matter of course. Just as there is no formal difference between play and ritual, so the ‘consecrated spot’ cannot be formally distinguished from the play-ground. The arena, the card-table, the magic circle, the temple, the stage, the screen, the tennis court, the court of justice, etc, are all in form and function play-grounds, i.e. forbidden spots, isolated, hedged round, hallowed, within which special rules obtain. All are temporary worlds within the ordinary world, dedicated to the performance of an act apart.” - Johan Huizinga, Dutch Historian (1872 – 1945)

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The Magic Circle

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Goals and Rules Goal: Victory and/or Termination condition Rules: – Semiotics: symbols and tokens – Gameplay: challenges and actions – Metarules: rules about rules

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Game Theory vs. Gaming Theory Game theory is a study of how people interact and make decisions. Specifically it attempts to provide a mathematical model for calculating a player’s success based on the decisions of others. Modern theory is credited to John Von Neumann (Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, 1944). John Nash (subject of the movie “Beautiful Mind”) generalized the results and provided the basis for the contemporary field (Nash equilibrium, c. 1950). The applications of Game Theory are mainly in the social sciences – Economics, Sociology, Political Science. Its application to Computer Science, specifically games, is in Artificial Intelligence. Gaming Theory, or Game Studies, is a subset of a field called Ludology (the study of play) which includes all games, not just digital ones. Game Studies has a much more cultural context. Its application in Computer Science is the study of the design and development of computer games. Game Theory may be confused with Game Studies, but they are very different.

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More About Game Theory Five Elements of a Game The players how many players are there? does nature/chance play a role? A complete description of what the players can do – the set of all possible actions. The information that players have available when choosing their actions A description of the payoff consequences for each player for every possible combination of actions chosen by all players playing the game. A description of all players’ preferences over payoffs.

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More About Game Theory A zero-sum game is one in which the players' interests are in direct conflict (e.g. in football, one team wins and the other loses; payoffs sum to zero). A game is non-zero-sum if players interests are not always in direct conflict, so that there are opportunities for both to gain (e.g. Prisoner’s Dilemma). Below, the Prisoner’s Dilemma in Strategic form. If neither Player confesses, each gets 1 year. If both confess, each gets 5 years. If only one Player confesses, he goes free and other gets 15 years. The highest payoff (lowest sentence for the prisoners) requires implicit cooperation between the players. Player 1 Player 2 Don’t ConfessConfess Don’t Confess1,115,0 Confess0,155,5

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More About Game Theory Games where players choose actions simultaneously are simultaneous move games. – Example: Prisoners' Dilemma – Must anticipate what your opponent will do right now, recognizing that your opponent is doing the same. Games where players choose actions in a particular sequence are sequential move games. – Example: Chess – Must look ahead in order to know what action to choose now.

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More About Game Theory One-shot: play of the game occurs once. Players are not likely to know much about one another. Repeated: play of the game is repeated with the same players. – Reputational concerns matter; opportunities for cooperative behavior may arise. If you plan to pursue an aggressive strategy, ask yourself whether you are in a one-shot or in a repeated game. If it is a repeated game, you may wish to think again.

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More About Game Theory Cooperative games are games where players can form binding commitments to each other. In Symmetric games payoffs depend only on the strategies employed, not who plays them. In Asymmetric games the strategy sets are not the same for all players. Perfect information games include chess; Imperfect information games include poker. Only sequential games can be Perfect information games. Combinatorial games (like chess) have such a multiplicity of actions that an optimal strategy is difficult to find.

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More About Game Theory Payoffs are known and fixed. All players behave rationally. They understand and seek to maximize their own payoffs. They are flawless in calculating which actions will maximize their payoffs. The rules of the game are common knowledge: Each player knows the set of players, strategies and payoffs from all possible combinations of strategies: call this information “X.” Each player knows that all players know X, and that all players know that all players know X. In equilibrium, each player is playing the strategy that is a "best response" to the strategies of the other players.

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Game Studies 1.Social science approach Studying the effects of games on people What do games do to people? (e.g. learning, effects of violence in games) How do people create and negotiate a game? 2.Humanities approach Studying the meaning and context of games What meanings are made through game use? Studying games as artifacts in and of themselves (e.g. affordances of the medium, critical analysis, rhetoric) 3.Industry and engineering approach Understanding the design and development of games (e.g. how to make better games) Games as drivers of technological innovations (e.g. graphics, AI, networking, etc.)

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Game Attributes Gameplay Aesthetics Harmony Storytelling Risk & reward Novelty Learning Self-expression Immersion

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Games & AI Arthur Samuel’s Checkers Games (c. 1950) at IBM. Introduced rote learning (the software could learn from multiple iterations of the game). IBM’s Deep Blue defeats Gary Kasparov (world chess champion) in IBM’s Watson defeated 2 human players of Jeopardy! in 2011.

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AI Rule-based systems, such as behaviors of game objects (such as NPC’s, or Non-Player Characters) Pattern recognition Natural Language Processing

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