Human and Virtual Beings as Equal Collaborative Partners in Computer Games

Human and Virtual Beings as Equal Collaborative Partners in Computer Games

Daniel I. Thomas (Griffith University, Australia) and Ljubo B. Vlacic (Griffith University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-569-8.ch003
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Computer games provide a compelling environment to study and enable virtual beings to engage with humans as equals. In this chapter, we investigate the requirements, design and implementation of virtual beings that participate in computer games as humans would; playing the game and creating rich new collaborative game play experiences in areas of education, training and entertainment.
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Alan Turing once remarked that “We may hope that machines will eventually compete with men in all purely intellectual fields” (Turing, 1950). While may not be fully realized today, the integration of artificial beings into human organizations and society evoke powerful images of both positive and negative possibility. Despite the technology that surrounds us today, humans continue to use the imagery of science fiction to strive to create more intelligent machines capable of autonomous decision making.

In this Chapter, we explore the possibility of artificial i.e. virtual beings emerging as partners to humans rather than tools used by humans in various collaborative situations. Unlike past revolutions of mechanical automation, the presence of virtual beings should not imply a redundancy for human partners, but rather a complimentary relationship. Group decision-making, including both humans and virtual beings as equals, increases the diversity of the knowledge pool (Dunbar, 1995), improving the likelihood of positive outcomes.

Computer game development offers a compelling platform for such research and development. As each new computer game produced pushes the boundaries of technical possibility, it should come as no surprise that academia and the game industry have frequently cross-pollinated each other’s efforts.

To this end, we explore a collaborative computer game called TeamMATE1. This environment facilitates the investigation of human and virtual computer game players engaged as fully equal partners. By investigating the nature of fully equal partners, concepts of collaboration and facilitating architecture, it is possible to address the following questions:

  • 1.

    Can human and virtual beings, being heterogeneous agents, interact cooperatively as fully equal partners in the context of computer games, where each entity is fully replaceable or substitutable with the other?

  • 2.

    How can cooperation be obtained in heterogeneous agent situations, such as a boardroom, be designed to facilitate cooperation between biological and virtual beings?

  • 3.

    Can a boardroom-like game scenario be appropriate for social and educational computer games?

This book chapter explores these questions, and what is required in order to engage human and virtual players collaboratively in computer games. The principles presented here are delivered from our experience in designing, developing and implementing the TeamMATE© cooperative computer game.


Fully Equal Partners (Feps)

To engage human and virtual beings as equal partners in a computer game setting requires interaction beyond treating the virtual partners as sophisticated tools, but rather requires a degree of social acceptance and cohesion. In such a heterogeneous group of partners, virtual beings must be able to articulate their perspectives and opinions, while taking on board the knowledge and opinions of others. For social acceptance and societal influence to occur the virtual being needs to become acceptable within the social system: Society, organization or group (Kelman, 2006).

In making the transition to societal acceptance of virtual beings, there are great challenges both technical and social. To better study virtual beings as collaborative partners, it is possible to focus on a smaller, group social setting, with an assumption of social acceptance (and therefore the capability to influence) collaborative group decision-making. For this reason, computer games provide an excellent environment for understanding how humans and virtual beings can positively influence outcomes in a collaborative group situation.

The nature of an independent virtual being participating alongside humans collaboratively in computer games is strongly influenced by the notion of intelligent autonomous agents in computer game theory. The concept of an intelligent autonomous agent as described by Jennings and Wooldridge (Jennings & Wooldridge, 1995) is appropriate for application to the characteristics of human and virtual beings that engage collaboratively as equal participants in computer games. An intelligent autonomous agent, being situated within a collaborative computer game enjoys the following abilities:

Complete Chapter List

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Maria Manuela Cruz-Cunha, Vitor Carvalho, Paula Tavares
Chapter 1
Vitor Carvalho, Celina Pinto Leão, Filomena Soares, Maria Manuela Cruz-Cunha
This chapter presents a research developed in collaboration by two higher education institutions. Nowadays, high education programs can only be... Sample PDF
Games Development for Pedagogical and Educational Purposes
Chapter 2
C. Karagiannidis, S. Efraimidou, A. Koumpis
In recent years the gap between educational theory and practice has been closing, but although there have been calls for ‘reflexivity’, there has... Sample PDF
Multi-Vocality and Post-Processualism as Methodological Assets of the ’Collaboration Game’
Chapter 3
Daniel I. Thomas, Ljubo B. Vlacic
Computer games provide a compelling environment to study and enable virtual beings to engage with humans as equals. In this chapter, we investigate... Sample PDF
Human and Virtual Beings as Equal Collaborative Partners in Computer Games
Chapter 4
Helena Coelho
This text consists of a review of available literature on these topics. It addresses the role of computer games in the teaching and learning process... Sample PDF
Computer Games and Libraries
Chapter 5
José Bidarra, Meagan Rothschild, Kurt Squire
This chapter discusses the selection and potential use of electronic games and simulations in distance learning supported by an operational model... Sample PDF
Games and Simulations in Distance Learning: The AIDLET Model
Chapter 6
Ana Castro Correia, Lia Raquel Oliveira
The use of digital games in educational contexts encourages active, critical, autonomous and participated learning processes, overcoming some of the... Sample PDF
The Educational Value of Digital Games: Possibilities and Limitations of the Use of Digital Games as Educational Tools (The Spore Case)
Chapter 7
Tiago Gomes, Ana A. Carvalho
The results showed that all of the four analyzed games are motivating for the players, they have some pedagogical potential related to problem... Sample PDF
The Pedagogical Potential of MMOG: An Exploratory Study Including Four Games and their Players1
Chapter 8
Jonathan Chetwynd
The rising tide of scientific data available on the web, has the potential to help us consider the complex problems that concern us today, and... Sample PDF
Browser-Native Games That Use Real-World XML Data
Chapter 9
Pedro Campos
Computer games have become an important part of the new digital economy, employing thousands of Information Technology professionals worldwide.... Sample PDF
A Multi-Disciplinary Approach to Designing Business Management Games
Chapter 10
Chien Yu, Anthony Olinzock
The purpose of this chapter is to provide the classroom teachers with the basic tools and fundamentals necessary to create instructional games... Sample PDF
Creating Computer Games for Class Instruction
Chapter 11
Brenda Flores Muro, Eduardo César Contreras Delgado
Present work develops a PC simulation game to conduct a study with the main objective to train children with psychomotor disabilities (coordination... Sample PDF
RACEM Game for PC for Use as Rehabilitation Therapy for Children with Psychomotor Disability and Results of Its Application
Chapter 12
António Pessoa de Magalhães, Bernard Riera, Bruno Vigário
This chapter is about a serious game named ITS PLC, an interactive simulation tool aimed at control systems education and training that includes the... Sample PDF
When Control Education Is the Name of the Game
Chapter 13
Karla Muñoz, Paul Mc Kevitt, Tom Lunney, Julieta Noguez, Luis Neri
Teaching methods must adapt to learners’ expectations. Computer game-based learning environments enable learning through experimentation and are... Sample PDF
Affective Educational Games and the Evolving Teaching Experience
Chapter 14
Fernando Borrajo, Yolanda Bueno, Fernando Fernández, Javier García, Isidro de Pablo, Ismael Sagredo, Begoña Santos
Thus, SIMBA opens up a wide field of research between Artificial Intelligence and Business Management aimed at developing efficient intelligent... Sample PDF
Business Simulators for Business Education and Research: SIMBA Experience
Chapter 15
Educational Games  (pages 247-262)
Gyula Mester, Piroska Stanic Molcer, Vlado Delic
The market favors the best-selling computer games regardless of their social and educational effects. This chapter will discuss the present trends... Sample PDF
Educational Games
Chapter 16
Johann C.K.H. Riedel, Jannicke Baalsrud Hauge
The findings from the evaluations showed that serious games deliver learning outcomes. However, there are drawbacks to their use that need to be... Sample PDF
Evaluation of Simulation Games for Teaching Production (Engineering)
Chapter 17
Mabel C.P.O. Okojie
A critical examination of the use of computer games as motivation for learning is provided. The examination is addressed by reviewing evidence from... Sample PDF
Can Computer Games Motivate and Sustain Learning?
About the Contributors