“Creating bacterial “fight clubs” is an effective way to find new drugs from natural sources.”
That is the conclusion of a team of Vanderbilt chemists who have been exploring ways to get bacteria to produce biologically active chemicals which they normally hold in reserve. These compounds are called secondary metabolites. They are designed to protect their bacterial host and attack its enemies, so they often have the right kind of activity to serve as the basis for effective new drugs.
… the “fight club” approach [analyzes] what happens when microbes compete.
… This procedure allowed the chemists to discover a new member of a class of biomolecules with broad-ranging activity ….
Play games to help defend — or at least debug — your nation.
Formal Verification is the process of rigorously analyzing software to detect flaws that make programs vulnerable to exploitation. Performing this analysis requires highly skilled engineers with extensive training and experience. This makes the verification process costly and relatively slow.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Crowd Sourced Formal Verification (CSFV) program is interested in improving and advancing the current processes of formal verification by significantly increasing the number of people working on formal verification projects at any given time through crowd-sourcing. CSFV augments the intensive work done by formal verification experts by greatly decreasing the skill required to do formal verification.
Much of the work required in the process of formal verification can be automated. Computers can be programmed to automatically scour software applications and verify the absence of certain bugs that make the applications vulnerable to misuse. However, certain formal verification work needs to be done by human experts specifically trained to discover and address issues that can be missed by computers. However, there aren’t enough of these experts to cover the huge amount of software generated in today’s modern computing world.
CSFV seeks to add more human expertise to the process of formal verification through fun and engaging video games. The games are created to assist in the formal verification process as players solve puzzles and increase their score. Video games that represent the underlying mathematical concepts allow more people to perform verification analysis of software efficiently. We empower non-experts to effectively do the work of formal verification experts—simply by playing and completing game objectives.
Xylem is a Verigame game which happens to have a nice YouTube video:
Software developers across the world have a major problem producing bug-free reliable code.
Our task is to help the specialists achieve their goal of ensuring that software that is produced is bug-free.
The way we do it is to take that code and turn it into some puzzles and put them in a game that we called Xylem, and crowdsource the games and the results of the game play help us to produce code that is bug-free.
This is all very interesting, but doesn’t go deep enough.
I want to know more about the principles of how we “take that code and turn it into some puzzles”.
“For us, that’s a big step beyond just casually intuiting that a fly fleeing a visual threat must be ‘afraid,’ based on our anthropomorphic assumptions.It suggests that the flies’ response to the threat is richer and more complicated than a robotic-like avoidance reflex.”
This may be useful to game designers. Can we make a bot that actually feels fear … and if not, how close can we get?
Using fruit flies to study the basic components of emotion, a new Caltech study reports that a fly’s response to a shadowy overhead stimulus might be analogous to a negative emotional state such as fear — a finding that could one day help us understand the neural circuitry involved in human emotion.
“… it felt like being told you had to eat your vegetables before you could have a single bite of weird, unappealing fruitcake.”
— Aroon Karuna
Many people … look back fondly on legitimately-entertaining educational games like Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? and The Oregon Trail. But the Learning Company games my parents bought me were marketed to and designed for parents and educators, not children. Rather than marrying learning to play, they crudely grafted educational material to rudimentary “game”-like behavior.
For children forced to play such games, it felt like being told you had to eat your vegetables before you could have a single bite of weird, unappealing fruitcake. You’d typically have to suffer through some convoluted fractions or a reading comprehension portion before you could be “rewarded” with a small slice of entertainment. The message ended up being that education was supposed to be a slog, not something you’d want to pursue for its own sake.
“New methods for treating anxiety, trauma and mental illness are emerging at the intersection of games and therapy.” – Laura Hudson
Deep, a virtual reality game developed for the Oculus Rift, has set out to do just that. It’s based on the same sort of deep breathing exercises that many anxiety sufferers—and meditation/yoga enthusiasts—are already familiar with, coupled with immersive visuals and audio that make you feel like you’re suspended in a dreamy, underwater world. A belt secured around your body senses when you inhale and exhale, causing you to “rise” and “fall” rhythmically within the water as you explore a “zen garden” of coral and colored lights.
Developer Owen Harris had been using breathing exercises to manage his own anxiety for years, and “when VR arrived… I knew exactly what I wanted to do: I wanted to build something where at the end of a stressful day I could just go to, and it’d become my own little isolation tank,” Harris told Vice. “I was building this thing for myself; it never really occurred to me to be showing it to other people.”
Twine is a tool for making interactive fiction in the form of web pages.
A new anthology curated by Merritt Kopas called Videogames For Humans “puts Twine authors, literary writers, and games critics into conversation with one another’s work”.
Behind the fluorescent veil of modern big-business video games, a quiet revolution is happening, and it’s centered on a tool called Twine. Taken up by nontraditional game authors to describe distinctly nontraditional subjects—from struggles with depression, explorations of queer identity, and analyses of the world of modern sex and dating to visions of breeding crustacean horses in a dystopian future—the Twine movement to date has created space for those who have previously been voiceless within games culture to tell their own stories, as well as to invent new visions outside of traditional channels of commerce.
Videogames for Humans, curated and introduced by Twine author and games theorist merritt kopas, puts Twine authors, literary writers, and games critics into conversation with one another’s work, reacting to, elaborating on, and being affected by the same. The result is an unprecedented kind of book about video games, one that will jump-start the discussions that will define the games culture of tomorrow.
“Game analytics are not just about sales. They are about getting a better understanding of our games and of our users. They empower us designers to fix gameplay issues and improve the game’s immersion.”
Game analytics are simply the study of our players’ behaviors using statistics. This expression covers all the types of data you may want to track. Most of the time, we tend to associate them with marketing and monetization. However, those statistics are not only for marketing people or producers!
They are a great learning tool, an occasion to get to better know and understand your audience. Game analytics offer us an opportunity to understand players beyond our subjective interpretation.
Analytics boil down to metrics
A metric is a stream of data that is being tracked over time. Metrics can track anything: average session duration, game uninstalls, player demographics…
There are 4 main categories of metrics:
Customer metrics: They correspond to all the data related to the acquisition and retention of customers. They can also be seen as the marketers’ data. Specific metrics in that category include DAU (Daily Active Users), ARPU (Average Revenue Per User).
Community metrics: Community metrics focus on the community’s behavior and evolution. They track what happens in your in-game chat for example. All sorts of social interactions fall in that category as well. For instance, both in-game and social network messaging.
Performance metrics: Performance metrics track your application’s performances and potential bugs or crashes. Be it a response time from your distant server, the game’s loading duration or framerate at runtime. Anything that can help you to improve your back-end systems.
Gameplay metrics: Gameplay metrics record anything that happens inside the game, between the player and the game. I.e. time spent in a given level, how many times the player died. They empower us to estimate the quality of the user’s gameplay experience.