Monday, 12 Oct, 2009 Science

Engineers Create Games that Adapt to User's Playing Style


A team of engineers from the IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark, are working on a new video game that would suit every player by being able to adapt to their playing style.

Julian Togelius and his colleague at Georgios Yannakakis explain: "If you play well the game gets harder and if you are lousy it might get easier." The two researchers look forward to develop games that would learn to identify the skillfulness of a player and then adjust to his or her tastes. Thus different users would play different versions of a certain game.

Having the goal of testing their idea, the engineers made some changes in the popular Super Mario Bros video game. They altered the number and types of enemies, as well as the size of gaps between platforms so that the most skilled player would get a more difficult version of the game, while the beginner a more simplified version. Besides, the altered game keeps track of a player's moves, such as the frequency of running and jumping, as well as the time spent standing still.

The engineers asked two volunteers to play Super Mario Bros. After that the participants were quizzed about the game, and namely which version of Super Mario they thought was more challenging or predictable, fun or frustrating, reports New Scientist. To be able to identify which set of parameters is related to diverse gaming experiences, the engineers applied special algorithms.

The first results were somewhat obvious. Yannakakis said: "If you die by falling too often down gaps that is indicative of frustration." But the researcher thought about going beyond "common sense." Taking the example of Super Mario Bros, there are some actions that not every user would consider performing, for instance hitting bricks to earn coins. Such activities are associated with a fun experience.

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