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Games Theory

Online play can help researchers tackle tough computational problems

By
11:10am, March 13, 2007

I'm online wrapped up on the ESP Game, and I'm finding it hard to stop. As each round ends, I'm eager to try again to rack up points. The game randomly pairs players who have logged on to the game's Web site (www.espgame.org). Both players see the same image, selected from a large database, but they can't communicate directly. Each player types in words that describe the image. When the words match, both players earn points and move to the next image. Each round lasts 150 seconds and displays up to 15 images. I keep hoping that my invisible, anonymous partner's thoughts are in sync with mine—all the better to rise on the list of top players.

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