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

by Rudi C 1 min read23rd Oct 20194 comments

11


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

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3 Answers

‘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.

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.

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.

https://www.gamesradar.com/best-puzzle-games/