Game Lab
Many of us, at the Institute, believe that much can be accomplished and created within the framework of the Game. Unfortunately, it is a belittled cultural form; when it is and could be a great fount of human desire.

With this in mind, Game Lab will be an opportunity for us to play unknown, lesser-known, and original games of our own. Physical games, strategy games, Flash games, wagers, games with unusual objects— anything that can conceivably be construed as having a ludic dynamic.

We hope great strides can be made with the invention of our own original games— and later with the extension into cognitive science and hyper-experimental pedagogy.

For the most part, Game Lab events will be festive, competitive, and hypercaffeinated in character.

Game Lab Lessons
Brandon writes:
I thought the first Game Lab was, overall, a success. If and once Tetnis is streamlined and made elegant, it will truly be a point of pride for the Institute. It share the same expansion/strength tradeoff that Go and Risk have, only translated into physical terms. Gavin's suggested game-seed (with the categories and matching cards) was really fun, a ludic gem. Two things I'd like to work towards: a metrogame, a fast-paced game playable on the Subway, and a highly abstract and self-referential game, in which the invention of the rules is the game itself. Also, I want to invite competitive cupstackers, and borrow their timing mechanism. The time-dynamic can be generalized to any action, and their little timers are very ingenious, requiring both hands to start and stop the clock.
Ramsey Arnaoot and Gavin Riley began development of a new variation on Foosball(Kicker) late night August 22, 2007. With the introduction of two simultaneous game balls on the table comes a new scoring paradigm - after a goal is scored, it is the defender's responsibility to put the ball back on the table; if a second goal is scored before the second ball returns to the table, the points are doubled - the attacker scores 4 points rather than 2. Initial reactions are highly emotional, with frantic empathy for the plastic players leading to freeze-up effects; comparisons to pinball are prevalent. Further research is necessary with a variety of subjects.
CrazyBall of the Damned
The dominance of Crazyball has taken its toll on the Institute. Most nights, the inclement "CRACK!" of the spheres will sound into the dawn; the familiar greeting, "Play a game of crazyball?" now takes on a desperate tone, as its addicts and acolytes struggle to face the reality outside of the game. The jubilant atmosphere of the original competitions is all but gone; games proceed speechlessly now, no battle cries, no shouts of warning nor of dismay; all verbal communication, even the controversial "commentary" of Crazyball inventors Ramsey Arnaoot and Gavin Riley, has given way to an unspoken foreboding - a sense that no matter how righteous the opposition, the desire to achieve a "Crazy Ball" will at last overcome all pleas for sanity.
Rubik's Solutions
Brandon writes:
I hope my explanation of the Rubik's cube solution was clear enough. If not, here is a link to a Beginner Solution to the Rubik's Cube, as well as the Wikipedia Rubik's article and a short course on Group Theory and the Rubik's Cube.

For the next episode of Game Lab, I want to work on two forms of games:

1. Graph paper games that operate generatively like cellular automata— though based roughly on older games such as Crystals and Sprouts.

2. Games that combine our recent fascination, the game Mafia, with classic Game Theory experiments.

It was a truly Icelandic experience; thanks to all who came, including MIR.

Here's the climactic solution, recorded by Owen Osborn:

In other news: after wearing the colors off my Rubik's cube, I peeled the stickers off of two opposite sides, to create a fairly trivial, but slightly interesting variant. The reason this variation is not wholly trivial is that, in order to correctly place a "cubie," you have to consider the orientation of the colors rather than just the colors themselves.

For instance, there are two Black-Blue-Orange corners but they can go in only one place.

By Brandon Joyce:

I created a new tactile Rubix Cube, where the faces are all colored black, but distinguishable by texture.
The textures are:
Grip tape, velcro, felt, gaffer tape, cloth patch, and the original plastic of the Cube. See my prototypes below:

The truly blind— or the extremely sensitive— could work with ever subtler textures— types of fibers, perhaps. Owen Osborn suggested a fingerbleeding version where all sides have sandpaper of varying coarseness.

GLINKS: Graph Paper Games/ Lazy Cellular Automata
Brandon writes:
I've already made some progress with the Graph Paper/Cellular Automata games— generative games that create colorful mosaics based on simple rules or objectives.

I call the game, or these sorts of games, Glinks. The objective of Glinks is simple: to be the first to fill in, on a piece of graph paper, a particular shape. This shape can vary. It can be a cross, a T, or something simpler or more ornate.

The game proceeds as follows:
1. Each player plays with a different, distinguishable color. There can be as many players as colors, however two or three is probably optimal.
2. The first player fills in a square on a piece of graph paper.
3. The players take turns filling in squares.
4. Each new square must share either a corner or edge with a pre-existing square. That is, no square can be floating off by itself.
5. The first one to draw the agreed-upon shape, wins. This shape is the Glink.

However, the point of Glinks is more than the amusement-value of the game alone. Aside from the play itself, a mosaic is being generated, based on the rules of a simple game. This means that different rules— different glinks, varying numbers of players, special rules or grids— will create different patterns of mosaic.

The more uneven the match; the shorter the game, the smaller the final mosaic. So, in a very close match— or while playing yourself— the mosaic could possibly go on forever. So, you have conflicts of interests in finishing a game. You want to win, naturally, but you're also compelled to extend the mosaic.

These mosaics will exhibit certain regularities and signs of strategy. For instance, the chosen glink will appear only once, and no other shape that contains the glink will ever appear. Other patterns will arise in the mosaic; patterns that depend on the chosen rules.

Here are two small example games:

A solo game, trying to create the cross-glink that appears in the left corner

A three-way game with Brendan Kellogg and Lauren Manoogian, again trying for the cross-glink.

In studying the final mosaic, one last game remains: find the glink. This is probably easy in the smaller games above, but larger games would be a hell of a lot trickier.

I'd like to merge a PEN16 with these drawing games, and create large mosaics by varying games of Glinks.

The Game of Life, by John H. Conway

I've now created a Glinks page, off of, for those interested in a slightly better explanation, and in watching its further development.
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