Obama Is Campaigning on Xbox 360!

From Gigaom:

Last week we noted unconfirmed sightings of an “Obama for President” billboard in the Xbox 360 racing game Burnout Paradise. Today we’re able to report that it is, in fact, an official advertisement placed by the senator’s campaign team.

“I can confirm that the Obama campaign has paid for in-game advertising in Burnout,” Holly Rockwood, director of corporate communications at Electronic Arts, the game’s publisher, told me via email, noting that EA regularly allows ad placements in their online games. “Like most television, radio and print outlets, we accept advertising from credible political candidates,” she continued. “Like political spots on the television networks, these ads do not reflect the political policies of EA or the opinions of its development teams.”

To my knowledge, this Burnout ad is far and away the most prominent use of a major online game to promote a presidential candidate’s campaign. There have been near-misses, of course: In 2006, for example, when he was seriously considering a run for the Democratic nomination, ex-Virginia Gov. Mark Warner made an avatar-based appearance at a press conference in Second Life.

And from the Digg comments:

McCain camp: Let’s call Atari!

Mathematics in Chutes and Ladders



From Wikipedia:

Any version of Snakes and Ladders can be represented exactly as a Markov chain, since from any square the odds of moving to any other square are fixed and independent of any previous game history. The Milton Bradley version of Chutes and Ladders has 100 squares, with 19 chutes and ladders. A player will need an average of 39.6 spins to move from the starting point, which is off the board, to square 100.

In the book Winning Ways the authors show how to treat Snakes and Ladders as a (loopy) impartial game in combinatorial game theory even though it is very far from a natural fit to this category.

Game Theory in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

From GameTheory.net:

I think that the final scene in this Clint Eastwood movie is the most outstanding example of game theory. Three men in a triangle — each with a gun, a rock at the center of the three. It is up to each man to evaluate his situation. All are excellent shots. Who do they shoot?

Clint has supposedly put a message on a rock that holds the key to everything, but do the other two trust Clint to have actually written the correct answer? As the other two evaluate the situation, they realize they can’t trust Clint to have written the answer on the rock — therefore they can’t shoot Clint who likely still has the answer. That means the other two can only shoot each other, but only one will likely hit before the other.

What they don’t know is that Clint has given one an unloaded gun… Clint can ignore this one. The one Clint has to worry about with the loaded gun will try to kill the one with the unloaded gun. Neither will fire at Clint. Clint will fire at the one with the loaded gun. As the camera passes from one face to the other the audience is meant to figure out what each would do.

The guy with the loaded gun shoots at the guy with the unloaded gun — Clint shoots the guy with the loaded gun. Game over. As with the hangings in the movie, he has dangled Duco out as bait while Clint takes the money.

A Review of Spore

From Ars Technica:

With Spore, Will Wright intends to make you an Intergalactic Galactic ruler who begins life as a bottom-feeding primordial soup dweller. When I first saw the game back in early 2006, I wondered if Wright and his team over at Maxis be able to pull this off? I didn’t mean “pull it off” in the technical sense, but in the gaming sense of making it fun. I’ve waited a long time to see if Wright succeeded, and when my review copy arrived in the mail recently, I found out the answer.

Looks like a lot of hype without much substance. I’ll pass.

Update:

The Amazon reviewers REALLY hate the DRM.

Game Theory in The Dark Knight: A Critical Review of the Opening Scene (Spoilers)

From mind your decisions:

The newest Batman flick The Dark Knight absolutely stunned me. Not since Dr. Strangelove has a movie contained so much game theory. While many others have noticed the game theory connection, particularly about a scene near the end of the movie, such commentaries miss the big picture: the entire film is a sequence of games and an exploration of strategic thought.

Game theory comes up in many scenes even where it’s not clear what the “game” really is. Strategy is a theme introduced immediately in the opening bank robbery scene. This scene is one of the most powerful movie openings and it foreshadows the chaos and tempo in the story. Today, I’ll analyze the robbery scene using the lens of game theory.

(via SF Signal)