Animal Controlled Computer Game Plays Pac-Man Vs. Crickets

Animal Controlled Computer Games, a graduation project by Wim van Eck, is a Pac-Man-style game in which humans can play against real insects. The project has been written up in a short paper submitted to the 2006 International Conference on Entertainment. His project parallels part of the plot of Ender's Game, the Hugo and Nebula award-winning novel by Orson Scott Card.

Most computer games today make use of pre-programmed behaviors, and are limited to what their programmers have created. As van Eck puts it "Donkey Kong will never get tired of throwing heavy barrels at you, or strain a muscle, or get hungry and just eat the princess. After playing a computer game for some time, you know what you can expect from it."

The goal of his project was to center the action in a computer game around the unpredictability of an animal. Is it possible to replace code with creatures? Can a person play against an animal in a computer game?


(Animal Controlled Computer Game setup)

Here's how the animals control the Pac-Man computer game in van Eck's project:

Instead of computer code, I wanted to have animals controlling the ghosts. To enable this, I built a real maze for the animals to walk around in, with its proportions and layout matching the maze of the computer game. The position of the animals in the maze is detected using colour-tracking via a camera, and linked to the ghosts in the game. This way, the real animals are directly controlling the virtual ghosts.

Crickets were selected because of their small size, activity level and maintainability. van Eck makes use of a natural cricket behavior - a tendency to flee from vibration (a sign of approaching predators) - to allow human players to interact with them. For example, when Pac-Man eats a power pill, the ghosts run away. The real-world analog (for the crickets) is that the floor vibrates under the spot where the virtual Pac-Man is standing, causing the crickets to flee.

Science fiction fans are immediately reminded of Orson Scott Card's 1985 classic Ender's Game, in which humans also play against insects (or, rather, insectile aliens). In the novel (*Spoiler Alert*), boy genius Andrew "Ender" Wiggin plays endless computer strategy games for the military. Eventually, he finds out that the "game" is a simulation of humanity's real battle against the insectile Buggers; he commands real troops and the "moves" of the aliens in his "game" are representations of the movements of the real insect battle groups.

If we're going to fight insectile aliens, we certainly need to start somewhere; Wim van Eck's project is a fine beginning.

Game enthusiasts may also want to read about Games of tomorrow built by players wiki-style; take a look at Rat Neurons In A Dish Now Playing Flight Simulator and Cockroach-Controlled Mobile Robot to see how animals can play their own games. Read more about van Eck's Pac-Man versus crickets game. Found on Pixelsix via pasta & vinegar.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 7/4/2006)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 3 )

Related News Stories - (" Artificial Intelligence ")

LipNet Reads Lips - Until Disconnected, That Is
'We'd have to cut his higher brain functions... I'm not sure what [HAL} would think about that.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1968.

Pokerbot Libratus Learns To Lie (Bluff)
'Lying's a vital part of your psychological defense system - you're naked without it!' - Red Dwarf

Software Learns To Design Software
'... The rational use of computers to design more advanced computers.' - Isaac Asimov, 1958.

China Now Has Robot Journalists
'A vast complex electronic organism buried deep in the ground, responsible to no one...' - Philip K. Dick, 1963.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Keith Laumer's Bolo Autonomous Tanks Right On Schedule
'I cannot lie idle under attack.'

When Computers Develop Their Own Language, Will They Talk To Us?
'The curious absent look of a robot talking on the TBR circuits - the Talk Between Robots radio...'

LipNet Reads Lips - Until Disconnected, That Is
'We'd have to cut his higher brain functions... I'm not sure what [HAL} would think about that.'

Eterni.me - To Skype With The Dead
'Nothing... left of Jeserac but a galaxy of electrons frozen in the heart of a crystal.'

Wearable MRI Is Former Occulus/Facebook Exec's New Project
'Your cephalochromoscope... that you always turn on and play when you get home...'

Ford Stratasys Infinte Build 3D Printer
'He proudly indicated his Buick... Almost as good as the original it was printed from...'

The Space Suit As Personal Spaceship
'Darn clever, these suits...'

Dune Fans! Your God Emperor Is Ready
'If one held a sandtrout in the hand, smoothing it over your skin, it formed a living glove.'

Robot Strolls Field, Examines EVERY Plant
'The great machines that did the work ... required but a few dozen men to cultivate an entire county.'

Sweden Outlaws Drones
'An eye that could not only see, but fly, roam, travel at speeds and in directions to suit its operator...'

Wear Your Self-Powered Generator
'It's basically a micro-sandwich...'

TITAN-III Spider Robot Is WAY Too Quick (Video)
'My little friends can find you wherever you go!'

Bill Gates Suggests Tax On Robots
'A worker replaced by a nubot that 'appears or pretends to be human' had to be compensated...'

Handle, New Wheeled Hopping Robot
'the hopper sprang thirty feet into the air...'

Matrix Sentinel Ancestor, The Pipe Inspector Robot From Krakow
Watch out, Keanu!

Auto-Focus Smart Glasses Have Liquid Lenses
'Hufhuf oil held in static tension by an enclosing force field within a viewing tube...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.