Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Video Strategy Games As A Testbed For Decision Theory

Daniel MacDonald occasionally mentions video games. It turns out some researchers use strategy video games for exploring decision theory models. (Partially observable Markov decision processes and partially observable stochastic games are examples of such models for decision theory.) Frans A. Oliehoek and others at the Intelligent Systems Lab, at the University of Amsterdam, have developed the Multi-Agent Decision Process (MADP) Toolbox, "an open source C++ library for decision-theoretic planning under uncertainty in multiagent systems."

Some researchers, I guess in this lab, have integrated MADP into StarCraft, a real-time strategy game. StarCraft has a science fiction setting, and MADP routines are used to calculate policies for one of the three races in the game.

I consider Edward Castronova one the most interesting researchers exploring the intersection of computer games and economics.

Don't tell Brad DeLong (who at one time found he had to choose between playing Civilization or doing economics) about this post.


Daniel MacDonald said...

Very interesting, thanks for the links (and repost)! I would argue that strategy games such as SC in particular are "easy bait" for economists given their strong emphasis on resource management/smart economy building.

However, I would even argue that in RPGs, where definite worlds are created with laws, currencies, markets, and so on, that there are some strong social theoretic and political underpinnings that are just waiting to be explored by some smart heterodox social scientists!

John said...

I have three basic questions for all would be political economists:

1) If physicists conflated velocity with position the way you conflate income with wealth, where do you think technology would be today? Why do you think economic technology would be any better?

2) If the primary function of government is to uphold property rights, then why is government funded by taxing economic activity rather than taxing property rights?

3) Why don't you ever answer the first 2 questions?

http://www.greenflycoupons.com/ said...

Hey man,

Thanks for this epic post.

The final major on my uni course is all about Edward Castronova. He is very knowledgable in this field!