MIT's The Restaurant Plays You

Customer finds exploring more interesting than achieving.
ROFFLE, let's make fun of the graphics. AHahahah.
More alcohol, more alcohol, he continued to shout.

The Restaurant Game is a research project at the MIT Media Lab that will algorithmically combine the gameplay experiences of thousands of players to create a new game. In a few months, we will apply machine learning algorithms to data collected through the multiplayer Restaurant Game, and produce a new single-player game that we will enter into the 2008 Independent Games Festival. Everyone who plays The Restaurant Game will be credited as a Game Designer.

I took it for a spin as a waitress and received my first customer within minutes. Funnily, this first scene progressed very similarly, I imagine, to real life: initial handshakes and posturing (wherein small chit-chat of "man, this is weird" in-game is like "oh, what lovely weather" in-life), to actually serving the food and receiving payment, to mindless wandering and wondering ("can I get drunk?" in-game vs. "can I get no bacon and extra sour cream?" in-life) and, most curiously, the personal opinions we develop with little actual data.

After "completing my objective", I was asked to fill out a personality poll about the other (anonymous) player, with questions like age, location, what they ate for breakfast, and a rating scale of 1 through 10 for the aspects of intelligence, funny, considerate, honest, well spoken, and patience. Due to my customer's constant demand for more alcohol, I judged him a 20 year old male ("so, are you really a girl?" he asked) with no occupation (in college) who eats leftover pizza for breakfast. He was certainly considerate (he did his job, which allowed me to do mine) and patient, average on honesty and clarity, but relatively low on intelligence and humor.

Unbeknownst to me, after profiling is complete you get to see what the other person said of you. This is quite unlike real life (unless, of course, you "whisper" loudly and deliberately) and, knowing my second customer will see it will probably affect my ratings even though everything is anonymous. While you can't respond to these profiles in-game (chatting is disabling once your objective is complete), I did second-guess my own cynical analysis. I received the following ratings (age defaults to 50):

Gender = M
Age = 50
From = don't know
Occupation = waitress
Breakfast = nothing
Intelligent = 7
Funny = 3
Considerate = 7
Honest = 4
Well Spoken = 8
Patient = 9

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Comments

I think the idea of serving people in a restaurant is funny to start with, but the idea that this game could serve to design another is hilarious. It might make for a good game, it might make for a good simulation tool for Denny's employees.

M

Hee hee, this game is fun!
If you play it the right way, that is.
*starts planning what nonexistent menu items he's going to order next*

Interesting concept for a video game , although I would imagine it would not be so fun after a while. I could be the basis for something much better. Then again I get bored of things like Second Life too. Maybe I'm just not so fun. :-)

Argh! I'm sick of hearing and reading about Second Life, and whenever I actually try to "play" (to "see how crap it really is", I tell myself) the entire program freezes within about 3 seconds on my laptop. I don't even get a chance to move my "avatar" at all! I've tried tweaking the graphics settings and my ATI Radeon Mobility 7000 w/64MB should be able to cope with it at 800x600 (even though I can't play a copy of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time that I bought for £9.99 -- stupid nVidia "optimisations").

Sorry, I realise that this isn't a rant forum for frustrated laptop owners. It's just that I've had this Toshiba Satellite since 2004 and I feel like I should be able to do _something_ a little more involved with the onboard graphics, because it cost a British grand at the time and is otherwise pretty good (P4 3.06GHz, RAM upgraded to 1GB). Again, I'm sorry for going into too much detail. Back to the topic in case this messages gets removed, then:

Am I the only person who thinks that those Second Life "concerts" are ridiculous, and an utter waste of the licence fee that the "well-respected" BBC collects ("extorts") from the British TV-owning public? They shouldn't be renting out virtual islands because from what I've seen so far in videos, the quality of the sound/video is appalling for most "broadband" users -- and as a sidenote, the range of so-called dancing moves available to users' characters are laughable and extremely repetitive. By all means do yet another lacklustre news article on the "virtual world" -- but please don't buy into the bandwagon!

I think the graphics have a long way to go before the game would be any fun to play.

It must be sad to be a person who can only have fun when the graphics are modern.

I am currently downloading the game, hope it will be a fun experience. From what i have seen it seems interesting, i'm not all into graphics and stuff, they are ok but i enjoy playing a game for it's purpose, gameplay etc.

Took me a while to realize that that the action takes place in the house and not outside :) oups

The graphics are terrible without a doubt... Surely the minds at MIT can garner some decent graphics. However, I assume that this is not there purpose. I mean its not like they are actually trying to sell this.

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