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"We [science fiction writers] always wanted to believe in "private sector" space -- hucksters make better characters than a government does."
- Larry Niven

Full-Shift Set Variable  
  Infinite possibilities built into a game machine.  

You've seen pinball machines, but not like this one.

"What's the object of the game?" Tinbane asked.

"We have here," the technician explained, "what we call a full-shift set variable. In other words, the terrain through which the steel ball moves is never the same. The number of possible combinations is -" he leafed through his report but was unable to find the exact figure - "anyhow, quite great. In the millions. It's excessively intricate, in our opinion..."

From Return Match, by Philip K. Dick.
Published by Galaxy in 1967
Additional resources -

For earlier speculations on infinitely variable gaming environments, see the remarkable kingdom in a box, from Stanislaw Lem's 1965 story The Cyberiad: Fables for the Cybernetic Age.

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  More Ideas and Technology from Return Match
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