springing into video games

pacmanhi all. spring is in the air so how about something more lighthearted?

ages ago, learned to write code writing video games. nowadays though video games are a serious multimilliondollar multibilliondollar business! wanted to get into that biz at a young age and have several friends who have surfed through its vicissitudes and hit the bigtime on occasion. one worked on the game Pain for sony and the other was a writer for Mass Effect, moving onto Irrational Games the studio behind Bioshock. never did find the right opportunity myself, but never say never and “the game aint over yet” 🙂

a neat trend in TCS is the analysis of some video games in some groundbreaking papers.[a] awhile back, asserted that this is a relatively new trend in TCS on tcs.se once & was sharply corrected/reprimanded by the authorities (eppstein, shor). 😡 so yeah there are isolated citations going back decades, but there does seem to be a new recent trend in the area.

MdB, [a14] is an expert/ leader/ innovator in this area & have occasionally had brief chats with him on stackexchange, and he has a great blog, check it out. MdB is also very active on stackexchange cstheory group & was even nominated for a mod position by outgoing “K” recently, quite an honor/feat. he also was recognized recently by Fortnow for his new paper on TSP complexity responding to Fortnow’s tcs.se question. it would be really great to more frequently see other “pros” use tcs.se in this way. (hi MdB! thx for commenting here!)

speaking of complicated reductions, cs.se star Realz Slaw wrote up a complex reduction for Dominosa as NP complete using Writelatex.[b7] this is also the kind of impressive/sophisticated analysis that easily belongs on tcs.se or even on arxiv! the sometimes-secretive Realz broke character briefly in chat to assure me he’s contributing to a paper that will appear soon on arxiv, really cant wait for the details!

another neat element is the use of genetic algorithms to develop game-playing intelligent algorithms [a11-a14]. isnt that an amazing concept of breeding a highly competitive algorithm to play that rivals or exceeds human performance? 

a decade ago this was considered breakthrough but now it barely elicits much notice. someone tipped me off that Koza was one of the early innovators in this area & looked into it, & was really knocked out by his achievements in the area [hes also evolved electrical circuits that incredibly rediscover patented designs, but thats another story]. saw his video presentation on his results years ago and was blown away but alas cant seem to find the video or citations/papers of his. if anyone knows any plz let me know in comments!

also the “gamification” of culture continues. there are experts/consultants who specialize in applying gamification principles to business. for 2yrs have been highly engaged with stackexchange and the strong gamification elements have a lot to do with it. there however it functions also as a powerful, and largely (imho) highly effective, voting/quality control mechanism.

not feeling the invasion of gaming and gamification into culture is entirely benign, but overall its been mostly a win-win. [e7,e8] 😎

now has 2 ps3s and a wii u in the house hooked up to hidef tvs & stereos, & big rock band fan for years 😎

legendary games/hits[d] have had a huge impact on pop culture. when was in college, Tetris was the big thing, and knew a kid doing his undergraduate degree at stanford CS, and he described how they had a class project in Tetris. the goal was to use AI to create an “annoyer” that sent down awkwardly-fitting shapes. hah! >:D (long had the suspicion the real tetris had that same algorithm but on the other hand, maybe it was random and the frustration was a “projection”…)

also recall playing Doom in off hours in a university computer lab, and the sizzling energy of that, which continues today in “LAN parties” all over the world.[e9]

other hit games remembered as high impact over the years: sim city/sims, angry birds [now like a miniature disney studio/huge empire with mass merchandising and with over 100 animators cranking out cartoons],[d2,d4] minecraft,[d3] Zynga farmville.[d6,d7]

when a designer makes it into a story in Rolling Stone (flappy bird/[d10]) it would seem that cultural saturation must be nearly maximum… ❗

heres a big list of links collected over the last few yrs capturing some of the highlights & personally exciting moments/trends/ etc.

another really exciting shift were games funded by large multimilliondollar kickstarter campaigns,[e5-e6] an entirely new funding model born within the last few years. wheres that going… 💡 ❗ ❓

also recall vividly within last few years, 2009 when the game biz revenue exceeded hollywood box office for the 1st time.[e11-e13] ❗

consoles will probably be around quite a bit longer, but theres been a huge, “gamechanging” shift toward lower cost mobile games and the “freemium” model within the last half decade.[e1,e2]

another really intriguing proposition was the company Onlive which moved a lot of game processing to cloud clusters and attempted to broadcast raytraced graphics. they seemed to have folded but think this overall concept has a lot of merit & is still yet to be tapped. ❓

another big deal and one to watch is the open source Ouya model [e5]. not sure if it is gonna work out but it seemed like a very innovative idea with lots of potential. ❓

[a] games as a serious TCS study (wrt complexity) by Phds in papers etc
[b] tcs.se questions/answers on games
[c] protein folding problem encoded as a game with significant results, a scientific breakthrough 💡 ❗
[d] huge hit games/phenomenons
[e] big shifts in game industry

bottom line ➡ ❤ ❤ ❤ those games!

⭐ ⭐ ⭐

a. game theory

b. tcs.se

c. protein folding

d. hits

e. game biz

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