What video games are more famous in our community than in the general public?

post by Rudi C (rudi-c) · 2019-10-23T19:07:29.417Z · score: 11 (7 votes) · LW · GW · 1 comment

This is a question post.


    14 Ben Pace
    5 gilch
    2 Stephen Jones
1 comment

I.e., what games are more esteemed by rationalists?


answer by Ben Pace · 2019-11-10T22:13:02.720Z · score: 14 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

‘Baba Is You’, which is one of my favourite puzzle games.

The game has many meta-level interactions, and is played by directly altering the rules of the game (which are themselves physical objects in the game).

I completed it, so has Oliver Habryka (we did it together), we played it after Paul Christiano recommended it on Facebook, and I know many researchers at MIRI have completed it too. It also commits to giving 10% of profits to charity, and shows the symbol of Giving What We Can when you open it.

answer by gilch · 2019-10-26T20:05:40.872Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not exactly sure what the downvotes are for, but this question seems difficult to answer without a survey. We'd have to know both what games are popular in the general public and in this community.

I can point out a few games of interest to rationalists (in my opinion) though.

Morrowind has crafting mechanics that let you implement a kind of intelligence explosion: drinking intellect enhancing potions lets you craft better potions. Lather, rise, repeat... You can boost your abilities far enough that, for example, you can craft a dagger strong enough to slay a dragon in one hit. (This might also work in other Elder Scrolls games. You can do something similar in Skyrim too, I think.)

Arimaa is more of a board game (thought it has computer implementations). It was designed as a toy problem for AI, intermediate in difficulty between chess and go due to its relatively high per-move branching factor. It's played with a chess set, so you probably have the equipment you need already. The high branching factor gives the game a very fluid feel that's quite different from chess. This seems less important now that we have Alpha Go, but it's still a fun game in its own right.

Poker is more of a card game, but again has computer implementations. Playing poker well requires you to make probabilistic judgements under uncertainty. It's a kind of applied rationality, and can be profitable too, but only if you're more rational than your opponents.

The Credence Calibration Game by CFAR. This is intended as more of a training system than a game per se, but it's a computerized game nonetheless.

Dual n-back. Supposedly trains your brain. This game is really freaking hard and maybe not enough fun to be worth the effort given its paltry benefits.

Magic: The Gathering. Again, it's a card game, but there are computer implementations. It's one of the games I recall being discussed here on LessWrong, but it's also quite successful with the public.

Dungeons and Dragons. Again, it doesn't require a computer, but there are computer games based on it (basically all RPGs, yes, but also some that use the actual D&D mechanics). Munchkin exploits are interesting because we rationalists are also looking for that kind of thing in the real world. It's also a source of a lot of nerdy lore, some of which gets talked about here.

Speaking for myself, I'm a fan of indie games. There's a lot of crap, but the ones that stand out do so because they're good, not because they're marketed. They also tend to be cheap: you can usually get several for a dollar in the Humble Indie Bundles, so you can enjoy a variety. One example that I liked was Reassembly, which puts an emphasis on creativity.

I've also started playing VR games. Wands is great.

answer by Stephen Jones · 2019-11-10T20:23:09.804Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Perhaps this is getting unfairly downvoted because it isn't a question about a concept or argument.

I imagine that the most popular games with rationalists would be puzzle games. Here are a few that are considered the greatest of all time:

  • Portal and Portal 2 - 3D puzzle adventures, requires unconventional spatial reasoning and "frame breaking" thinking in a humorous, dystopian future
  • Myst and The Witness - First-person, adventure puzzle games
  • 2048 and Threes - Mobile, somewhat math-related sequencing games
  • Braid and Life is Strange - Games where messing with time (forward and back) is required
  • Picross 3D - 3D spatial reasoning and inference puzzles
  • The Room, The Swapper - Escape room games
  • The Talos Principle - A cerebral, maybe even philosophical puzzle game

These are interesting games because they involve intricate reasoning, thinking about sequences of dependent actions, and inference in the presence of partial information.


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comment by Pattern · 2019-10-24T18:15:19.373Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This might work better as (or in) a survey. Not sure what all the downvotes are for - maybe video games aren't popular in this crowd?