E-Literature & Gaming-Relations

What is E-literature you may be asking yourself? Well a definition offered by the Electronic Literature Organization (ELO) states electronic literature “refers to works with an important literary aspect that takes advantage of the capabilities and contexts provided by the stand-alone or networked computer.” [1] However, it can be much more than that. Of course E-literature refers to your Kindle or reading a digital news article on the train on your iPad but it also offers new depths for stories to explore.

E-literature to me also revolves around new ways of showing a story. Be that through game-play elements such as [2] Pry (2016) allowing you to see into the mind of the protagonist ever step of the way and understand their motives and decisions vividly unlike the pages of a novel could express. It could also be like in [3] Journey (2012) where you are initially a mere wandering wayward vagabond learning small tidbits of the world as your explore a wasteland and find little pieces of information along the way that tell a story unlike any novel could express without words.

Stories are developing beyond the medium of pen and paper. Many mediums are looking towards creating video-stories such as in interactive Youtube videos such as Hell Pizza’s Zombie Attack. Videos like this craft  a story with some different outcomes depending on the viewer or reader. E-literature is a medium where you do not merely read and enjoy a novel but instead interact with it, explore it and absolutely become a part of the story yourself.

I’ve been a firm believer in anything being able to create a grandiose story when people come together to put it together. As a Dungeons & Dragons (I’m gonna get nerdy for a second, just let it happen!) player and long time Dungeon Master, I know that crafting a story, setting and world can take months of work to pull off. However, that world would go nowhere without the players to push the story forward. I understand that this is not entirely E-Literature as it is not online but it does connect people together to create a collaborative story. Together the players work to craft their story.

It might be a little irrelevant but Roll20 is an online place for D&D players to find each other and play online as well which, in my opinion, is the pinnacle of E-literature as you craft your own story online with other people, the possibilities of these tales are endless.

I hope this was an enjoyable read! Thank you for making it to the end!

Bibliography :

[1] Electronic Literature Organization – http://eliterature.org/

[2] Pry 2016 – http://prynovella.com/

[3] Thatgamecompany – Journey 2012

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E-Literature & Gaming-Relations

How AI in Video Games is furthering our knowledge of programming AIs in general.

AI had humble beginnings. In 1957, Arthur Samuel successfully played a match of checkers with an artificial opponent. [1] This came with some restrictions however, such as his opponent being the size of the room he was playing in. We’ve come a long way since that almost prehistoric computing period and a new age of AI has dawned on us in video games such as Bioshock Infinite‘s Elizabeth being an almost new standard of AI on her own.

Elizabeth [2] is a very interesting example of AI. She isn’t just a follow along companion or just a recruit you can hire like in The Elder’s Scrolls : Skyrim or Fallout, Elizabeth adapts to the player she is with. She can follow or lead while being reactive to the protagonist character and still proactive in pushing players through the story arcs. The team in charge of programming her faced many challenges in non-combat situations. Will having her function to merely follow the player they said it opened “a comedy of errors” while in play. They knew for this character they needed to step up the AI from previous video games.

They wanted Elizabeth to feel like a real person next to you during the campaign. Never too close to you to be “creepy” but also never straying too far as to become impersonal with the main character. It was a tricky blend but through long hours programming they were able to create what is now a critically acclaimed as the best AI in video game history! It is a far cry from the AI of Watson in Sherlock Holmes : Crimes & Punishments. Who would often feel like he was stalking the player with his obsessive teleporting. (Gif Attached)

At its core, Artificial Intelligence is imbuing interaction between people and machines. Video games already blend this line with player input being the key factor of progressing the story. But what is AI? This is an interesting question Graft, K. [3] posed to multiple game AI developers on Twitter. Some responses were quite interesting such as “Teaching the game to make decisions that provide context for the player’s own decisions”. Now I’m not one to spell the “end is nigh” for teachers out there but that does sound awfully similar to how teachers in school show pupils how to do tasks and homework. Perhaps one day we could see AI implemented into the real world through similar means? Though that is probably as far away from us as we are from that checker game in 1957!

Currently, AI is still a developing format with limited research. Sadly, The video game industry takes almost no note of cutting edge AI research which is truly a shame in my eyes. As if we could combined or albeit limited research of AI with the expertise of developers who knows what we could create. However, the challenge of learning with less data known is well known and almost inspiring to computer scientists these days [4] so it may be possible one day soon we will have Terminators and Personal AI Assistants helping us out in our regular routines!

Thank you all for reading, I hope this article on how AIs are currently evolving was suitably entertaining!

References:

[1] – Togelius, J. Why Video Games are essential for inventing Artificial Intelligence. http://togelius.blogspot.ie/2016/01/why-video-games-are-essential-for.html

[2] – Corriea, A.R. The long road to building AI for Bioshock Infinite’s Elizabeth. http://www.polygon.com/2014/3/18/5522450/the-long-road-to-perfecting-ai-for-bioshock-infinites-elizabeth

[3] – Graft, K. When Artificial Intelligence in Games becomes… Artificially intelligent. http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/253974/When_artificial_intelligence_in_video_games_becomesartificially_intelligent.php

[4] – Knight, W. To get truly smart, AI might need to play more video games. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601009/to-get-truly-smart-ai-might-need-to-play-more-video-games/

How AI in Video Games is furthering our knowledge of programming AIs in general.

Open Street Map Participation

Our project was to contribute to Open Street Maps by either responding to an Humanitarian needed cartography initiative or mapping our local neighborhood on Open Street Maps (OSM for short). I chose to participate in initiative #1623 which included mapping Fiji (the island of Vanua Levu from the city of Lekutu to Naduri) as the Island had recently been hit by one of the most powerful storms recorded to date in the Southern Hemisphere. We were tasked with mapping three “blocks” or sections of the map, this included hand drawing roads, buildings and farmland in the affected areas the storm affect Fiji. We were also tasked with reviewing the work of another member of the OSM community and validating there work as correct.

This was the first time I ever attempted to use software such as this and of course, I started off pretty confused. I stumbled into locking myself to Task #300 and edited this area using Bing Maps and ID Editor. I noticed someone more experienced had already filled out a secondary road on this area, which was a boon to someone as inexperienced as I. Knowing this could affect people in that area, I wanted to map this as precisely as I could, so I spent well over an hour mapping ever dirt road, building, farmland and one lake no one else had marked on a nearby adjacent block. Feeling that I had confidently filled out this block, I saved it and marked it as complete. I may also mention that upon starting this the map was 70% complete and had two more experienced members of the community working on nearby blocks with me, this gave me much more confidence in the case of an error being made (by an inexperienced member such as myself) it would be corrected.

After gaining some confidence in using the software I moved onto Task #299 and Task#352. While the task only asked to map roads, I also marked down houses, farmlands and any water features I could find. Though it may not have been required it may certainly be useful knowledge to locals of the area. It certainly is an enriching feeling to know you may be helping emergency services around the world find routes to areas and potentially saving lives. All of my tasks have been set as complete but not yet validated, I am eagerly awaiting validation so I can either see my mistakes and improve from there or potentially even be praised for using the software well as a first timer! (Though I expect the former much more likely than the latter)

Gaining confidence on the software, I decided to validate Task#350 which was submitted by another member of the OSM community. After reviewing their work I noticed they had omitted several roads and had forgone mapping buildings and farmlands completely. I personally edited as many omissions as I could find, when I believed to be finished I validated the work as complete. However, within an hour I received a message from another member of the OSM community. This message stated that they had noticed I was a new account so they checked my validation and noted I had also omitted a road. They added this in and allowed me a second chance to validate Task#350 again. My second validation was accepted as correct.

However, this experience really showed me the community of OSM, they are extremely diligent and keen to fix mistakes as soon as possible. If not, my mistake and omission of that road could have been critical in an emergency service making it to a site in time and not. I was surprised for the level of scrutiny the community shows the mapping but also very thankful for it as it is only after many iterations that a map is charted to complete accuracy.

As a consensus, while OSM is not the easiest to access community, due to the learning curve and figuring out the level of accuracy expected of members, the members are extremely active and welcoming. When criticism occurs, it is only to help each other improve our mapping skills and never an attack on another person. It is exciting to view your interpretation of a map to become locked into place as the true routes of that area. The community strives for accuracy and collaboration. After helping out on this project of mapping Fiji I believe this community is both noble and extremely important. I am impressed by the more experienced members the most of course, the re-correction of my validation and allowing me to submit it again did not turn me away, it made me want to try harder and be more precise with my maps in the future. I firmly believe that as long as members of the community uphold this standard then OSM may even replace google maps in terms of usefulness one day as the members on OSM constantly update everywhere they can.

 

Open Street Map Participation

On The Topic of Creative Commons

cc-licenses-terms

Recently, we were tasked to watch a documentary on the life of Aaron Swartz in our course. (Link Below) It was noted in the video that Swartz was one of the first architects of creative commons, a different type of copyright on the internet. Swartz believed information should be more open and free to the world, and while in the beginning of the internet this was very much the case, today almost all major nations follow the Berne copyright convention. [1]

The © (Copyright) symbol has so much power today. It can completely disallowed someone from interacting with a wealth of human knowledge or using pictures from sources. In general, if you unknowingly took something from a copyrighted source it could cause massive uproar such as copyright infringement charges and a en-slew of legal charges for accidentally using a copyrighted piece in your work

While there was the concept of “Fair Use” on the internet for copyright law was created to allow things such as commentary, parody, news reporting, research and education about copyrighted works without the permission of the author. [2] Basically, In reproducing an article, it would only be deemed fair usage if you were to use it to criticize or highlight the quality of said article. If it was used because you couldn’t find time to write your own story, or didn’t want your readers to have to register at a web site it would most likely not be deemed fair use.

Swartz aimed to change this with the concept of Creative Commons and liberate copyrighted data. You might be asking, well what IS Creative Commons? Well, Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools. He hated how copyright felt like an iron-clad lock against the distribution of knowledge. Creative Commons is helping to realize the full potential of the Internet, allowing universal access to research and education, full participation in culture and is trying to drive the world into a new era of development growth, and productivity. [3]

The (cc) (Creative Commons) logo in contrast to copyright allows a publisher to options on how there content is used. There are six contracts (as seen in the image above) which allow a publisher to control the access the public has to their content. Not only does Creative Commons allow more control for the publisher, usually it gives more access to the reviewer, researcher, etc. who are using the publisher’s work. It refines your copyright and streamlines how you give permission.

There are several symbols (or rules) to every creative commons contract. A link to a great video for understanding Creative Commons can be found here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YkbeycRa2A

-Attribution : The original source must be Acknowledged
-Non-Commercial : Only the original source may make money from the content
-No Derivatives : The image, video, etc. can not be altered from original publication
-Share Alike : New creations that use the original source must follow the same license as the original.

It’s evident to see that Creative Commons allows more diverse control for the publisher and is shown to increase sales (as the work can be used by the buyer) if the original source is to be monetized. [4] Remember, Creative Commons is actually a license that is applied to a work that is protected by copyright. It’s not separate from copyright, but instead is a way of easily sharing copyrighted work. Creative Commons allows us to use works on the internet even through copyright protection. So remember, next time you’re using a source to check it’s creative commons license and if your using it correctly.

I believe this sums up the majority of what I needed to say on the concept of creative commons and how it improves on current copyright laws. My next post should be Thursday, on the topic of Openness, which will combined elements from our classes’ recent Twessay. Until then, This stream is going offline.

References :

[1] – Current Berne Convention text : http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ip/berne/index.html
[2] – Notes of Fair Use Copyright Law – https://w2.eff.org/IP/eff_fair_use_faq.php
[3] – Creative Commons’ Goals – http://creativecommons.org/
[4] – Publishing a Commercial Book with Creative Commons – http://www.technollama.co.uk/publishing-a-commercial-book-with-creative-commons
Image used from : http://ohda.matrix.msu.edu
Aaron Swartz Documentary – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QL182y-5iIY

On The Topic of Creative Commons