Tags: indiana university

Play Games, Advance Science

"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals, and you know it." - Agent K, Men in Black

And, as Rob Goldstone, director of Indiana University's Group Experiment Environments, might add, "Collective behavior is potentially more controllable than isolated individual behavior because of the strong influences among the individuals' behavior." Goldstone's research uses video games to "observe, explain, and computationally model how groups of people behave."

The game experiments are available online and open to the public. Goldstone's design goal is to have more than five people playing at any given time. But until the project gains more popularity, AI bots fill in for missing human players. At game's end, players can read a thorough explanation of the group behavior modeled and what the experiment results can mean to the real world.

Group Path Formation is one experiment/game that rewards participants for reaching target destinations but subtracts points for each step. Fewer points are deducted if a previously established path is followed so players must strike a balance between the shortest distance and following in the footsteps of others.

"At a broad level, the best grounds I can see for being optimistic about the future of humanity is that sometimes people will shun well-trodden roads and forge their own paths," said Goldstone in an email to GamePolitics. "But once they do, it turns out that they are attractive paths for other people to follow. In this way, humanity can be both flexible and efficient."
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Big Men on Campus Study Video Games

If GamePolitics was a college course, say, GP101, would you sign up? Well, as fate would have it, an article in the Indiana Daily Student brought our attention to something quite similar being offered this summer through Indiana University's Department of Communication and Culture.

Games, Gamers, and Gaming Culture is a new course being offered this summer in which students will critically examine the relationships between video games, gamers, and society by studying the cultural, social, and political aspects of video games.
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