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Aliens Don't Play Chess

August 12th, 2013
go, games

If human culture were to develop again from scratch there would probably still be games, but most of them would be different. The space of possible games is very large, and I don't know any examples of a game that was developed independently in multiple cultures. I would expect, however, that the probability of playing a game would be dependent on the complexity of the rules and the quality of the game those rules define. Some complexity in rules is generally required for an interesting game: tic-tac-toe has simple rules but after a few games people reliably learn how to force a draw, while backgammon has more complex rules and experts can play interesting games.

While it's hard to pin down exact levels of complexity and interest in games, I think go is the simplest known game that a person could reasonably devote their whole life to playing.

(Star Trek Diplomacy is right out.)

Update 2013-08-13: to investigate the complexity question I wrote some programs.

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