Thursday, February 24, 2005

Game Theory in Games?

So I just got my March copy of Wired Magazine and promptly sat down to pour over the glossy pages of goodness. I was flipping through the Play section when I came across a new videogame; Battlefield 2. What caught my eye was the new element of game play. There are two modes; a first-person shooter mode, and a 'commander' mode.

The first person shooter mode is now famous and has spawned many wonderful games. From Doom to Counter-Strike, it's a popular genre. But Battlefield 2 is adding a second element. Players can either play on the front lines in FPS mode, or take a back seat in the commander mode. The commander mode will allow players to direct a squad of up to 32 players (not AI, real live boys and girls) on the battlefield. They can drop ammo to a player who is almost out, call in air support, or direct traffic.

The thing I find most interesting is that it presents a classis game theory situation. I could even draw up a nice little matrix. Players will have the opportunity to either cooperate (go where the general says to go), or defect (go where you want to go if you think the general sees ‘cannon fodder’ written on your forehead) I have been in games of CS where one team is completely whooped by a team that plays together. They work as one.

But that is the exception to the rule. MOST of the time in CS, people are just running around shooting each other. Sometimes players try to direct, (“Storm the front!”), but for the most part this attempt at leadership is ignored. Players choose to defect from the squad, and just do their own thing, usually to the detriment of the team.

So will Battlefield 2's command view encourage people to work together as a team? Will the command view allow the 'general' to punish or reward those that defect or cooperate?

Maybe I need to do a little 'research' and purchase a copy when it comes out in March.

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