[racket] untrusted

From: Neil Van Dyke (neil at neilvandyke.org)
Date: Fri Apr 18 10:43:27 EDT 2014

Matthias Felleisen wrote at 04/18/2014 09:33 AM:
> On Apr 17, 2014, at 1:44 PM, Neil Van Dyke <neil at neilvandyke.org> wrote:
>> BTW, another great game to inspire learning programming and AI methods is something in the spirit of Crobots ("http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crobots").  The very general idea is that you program a virtual robot to operate in a virtual world, and you have some kind of metric for success.  In the case of Crobots, it also has the appeal of being competitive and violent, in that you run different robot programs against each other in the same virtual world, and the robots can shoot each other.  Hook this up to a world that lets people watch 3D graphics of the Racket-implemented AIs play against each other, and that could be a lot of fun.  Put live displays visible from school hallways of the AIs interacting in 3D, including display of whatever stats/ranking/honors you have, and a URL and QR code where people can go to get info on how to program AIs for it themselves.  Suddenly, pursuing a CS major seems like more fun.  Surely some school that has a substantial video game programming track/classes also has a good Racket person.  (Do this soon in Racket, before someone does it in JS and poisons young minds further.)
> In principle, yes, agreed very much.
> But let me issue a warning that there are people out there who object to games for various reasons, some real, some issued by the PC police. Just recently I worked with a colleague at a Boston university whose departments forbids its instructors and professors the use of games in all courses (with a curious exception) for reasons that only Orwell could have dreamt up. Keep this in mind before your enthusiasm carries you away.

Interesting.  Quick speculation, since you didn't say what the 
objections are (and then I have to get back to paying work)...

If the objection involves the violence prominent in almost all popular 
games, that could be worked around.  Indeed, if a university has a video 
game development track/center, it seems that building up a category of 
compelling 3D action games that aren't centered around violence (nor are 
EA cookie-cutter professional sports team drivel) could be an area of 
research.  (Emphasize autonomous agent programming by players.  
Multiplayer open world that is constructed and inhabited by autonomous 
robots?  Robot exploration/colonization of outer space or deep ocean?  
Robot team soccer?  Robot rescue operations?  Pandering environmental 
themes?  Politically-delicate robot mitigation of disasters like certain 
nuke plants?  SimCity-ish development?)

If a "PC" objection involves another thing we sometimes hear, something 
like "girls and women don't like violence and conflict, nor competition; 
they prefer socialization and collaboration", that seems like a broad 
sexist generalization, and the intent of people saying that seems to 
vary.  Regardless of how correct the assertion is, which I don't know, 
it seems like helpful input when mapping out dimensions of games, to 
find under-explored areas and brainstorm innovation.

Or, for an objection to game hero/protagonists almost always being male 
and acting in gender-stereotypical ways (as in last year's hottest 
games, "The Last of Us", "Bioshock: Infinite", all three characters of 
"GTA V"), or occasional tough female heroine having to be overly 'sexy' 
(Lara Croft), that's evident.  Maybe the university -- by conducting 
research and broadening horizons, not just being a trade school for 
video game industry workers -- is the place to try to improve that by 
doing things that industry is not yet.

If an objection is "people should spend less time playing passive games 
with rote behaviors", well, what are active and constructive things that 
people should do instead, and what are roles for games in that?  (Are 
games all bad?  What about games in animal behavior for rearing of young 
and socialization?  Skills?  Team cooperation? Goal-orientedness?  Etc., 

Neil V.

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