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Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Article 6 - Internet gaming

I remember programming my first game using a teletype and punch tape for storage around 1977. It was a computer version of the then popular Mastermind game and ran on a computer that filled a large room and required a dedicated staff of people to keep it going. Today, a hand held smart phone has more power and significantly more memory capacity than this venerable relic. A few years later, as I carried out post-graduate study into the uses of Artificial Intelligence, the height of research included developing software versions of the game of chess. One interesting program, called ELIZA, sought to simulate a Rogerian psychotherapist. ELIZA mostly rephrased the user's statements as questions and posed those to the ‘patient’. For example, ELIZA might respond to "My head hurts" with "Why do you say your head hurts?" The response to "My mother hates me" would be "Who else in your family hates you?"

Ping Pong

In the mid 70s, games started appearing for the home, the most memorable of which was the game of PONG, a computer version of ping-pong. Things developed rapidly and were spurred along with advances such as the Sinclair ZX80 and later the Spectrum computers. By the mid 80s, games were gaining a real entry into people’s homes with some 20,000 titles (mostly games) having been released for the Spectrum. Some concern was already being expressed about the time that children were spending playing computer games, though, at the time, other non computer games such as Dungeon and Dragons were still just as popular, and no less controversial. The concern was not only with the depiction of witchcraft in such games, but also with role-playing described as games “in which the protagonists create and control the actions of a cast of characters”[2].

30 years later, gaming technology has progressed beyond recognition...

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