Online Puzzles And – Science?

Online jigsaw puzzles, word puzzles, and other kinds of puzzles provide hours of entertainment for millions of people every day. In fact, playing online games is said to keep the mind sharp, and has enlarged social networks of many. But, can online puzzles benefit science? According to Dara Mohammadi at The Observer, the answer is “YES”! Here are some amazing ways that playing games online can actually produce benefits for mankind.

Online Puzzle Game: Foldit

Were you one of the many people playing Foldit a couple of years ago? If so, you contributed to the scientific research being conducted on AIDS. For thirteen years, scientists had been trying to solve a problem with protein folding that caused a disease similar to AIDS in monkeys. However, 3 weeks after making the game Foldit available online, the problem was solved.

According to Scientific American, scientists and programmers at Foldit are, to this day, providing various puzzles to the public. Scientists making presentations for funding to congressional subcommittees have even referred to the benefits of online gaming in the R&D of scientific problems. Currently, Foldit has Puzzle 935 online.

Online Astronomy Game: Planet Hunters

While not a puzzle, per se, Planet Hunters is a popular game that invites players to track the light emissions of planets. These light emissions are measured every 30 minutes, and have led to the discovery of over 40 planets that – get this – COULD SUPPORT LIFE!

Online Puzzles and Patterns

It seems that the human brain is hardwired to study, perceive, analyze, and re-order patterns. In fact, this is one thing that the human brain does far better than a computer. The recognition of elements of the human face, for example, is still a challenge for computers, yet children can memorize hundreds of faces in a short period of time. This actually gives humans the advantage in many puzzle-type scientific challenges. Sure, computers can calculate mathematical equations much faster than the human brain, but recognizing the characteristics of your face – or of a particular star – is much harder.

Candy Crush and Genetics

If you enjoyed high school biology (and who didn’t?) and found genetics class to be particularly interesting, you can participate in a game of genetic analysis similar to Candy Crush. Fraxinus is a game available online that is constructed just like Candy Crush, except you are trying to line up nucleotides from the genetic data of a fungus that is killing trees. There is a similar game in the works for the genetic code that causes Alzheimer’s.

 

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ACHIEVEMENT ADDICTS AND CLAN MEMBERS

The online gaming community – even with online jigsaw puzzles – is actually a universe, rather than a world. In the world, you have known and explored oceans, continents, and civilizations.  With a universe, there is always the unknown. And that is the world of online gaming – a mixture of the known and unknown.

Clans

On the rise with today’s games are “clans”.  First Person Shooter, or FPS games, are usually the realm of clans, while Role Playing Games also are host to these otherwise un-related groups. In some cases, driving games such as Grand Theft Auto attract clan members. These groups stick together, as any good clan would, and migrate from game to game. These clans have members that each have a different skill, and they combine to make a juggernaut that can overwhelm any opponents.

While this is great fun for the clan members, players outside the clan, individuals or loosely associated players, find themselves slaughtered – figuratively, of course. Some game systems have separate areas for these groups, so that clans can play clans and individuals and small groups can play their own kind.

The problems arise when these two distinctive groups wander into each other’s territories. An individual or a small group of friends who wander into a clan war can end up not having any fun. Even worse, though, are clans that deliberately “raid” less organized sites. In lobbies where people just congregate to play, a clan can be really annoying. You’ll even find clans that sweep across non-weapon oriented games, such as word-games and free online jigsaw puzzles. Heaven help the player who tries to take on Scrabble with a clan – they can post 2 letter words that score a gazillion points faster than you can hit “enter”.  If you sense that you are just being used as bait, you probably are. Ethical clan members stick to their own kind. The others are just cyber bullies.

Achievements

Some players are addicted to getting achievements. In fact, the entire objective of the game, for these people, is to get prizes, treasure, points, and rewards.

This is fine, if you don’t have a partner, or if you have a partner with similar goals. But it can be really frustrating for a player who wants to just play the game and grab achievements as they arise. The game play itself is the goal of some people, and while achievements often arm you for future adventures, they are not an end in themselves.

Not so for the achievement addict. This person will rush through each scenario, trying to beat their previous times in grabbing up each achievement. As this player’s partner, you will probably end up as the sacrificial lamb. You are the collateral damage. You are the man left behind, because the achievements are the only focus and only purpose.

This is the type of gamer who wants the most points in Scrabble, and memorizes every 2 to 3 letter word in the Scrabble dictionary, and every word using “k”, “w”, “x”, and “z”. It doesn’t matter that you carefully crafted a multi-syllable word using all 7 of your tiles – your opponent just hammered you with “xu”.

Yes, the world – rather, universe – of online gaming can be virtually bloody and lonely. Learn to recognize the clans and achievement addicts, for your own protection or try a free jigsaw puzzle on the internet!

 

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Using Online Gaming To Promote Your Site

With millions of people across the globe playing online games, you’d think that would be a ready place to advertise your website. As it turns out, it is! From free jigsaw puzzles to race car games, you can find ways to promote your website.

User Contributions

The main feature to look for, if you want to use your online games to promote your business, is to find gaming sites that allow user submissions. In more intricate games, such as the major first-person shooter games, this may be more difficult. However, you can find many places that welcome user submissions.

Photos

If you are a photographer, or have some professionally done photos of your business, a great place to get attention is via online jigsaw puzzles. Most of these sites encourage you to submit your own photos. There are usually requirements for the size of each photo, but for a professional, is not such a problem to change the size of the file.

Most jigsaw puzzle sites will give you credit for the photo, and many will even include a link to your site. This is an invaluable way to promote your business. Imagine if, as a wedding photographer, you had a selection of photos on popular jigsaw site, linking back to your studio’s site! You can get more brand recognition than you ever thought possible, and find your work shared in demographics you had never anticipated, and it is all for free!

Photojournalists usually have a copyright stamp on their photos. So, if you are a wildlife or landscape photographer, you can submit some of your photos to jigsaw puzzle sites and get your brand into the public domain. Some sites even allow you to sell your artwork through their website!

Words

Another way to promote your site is with word puzzles. Crossword puzzles, skeleton puzzles, word searches, and other types of word games are popular and easily marketed. You can even use a puzzle builder to create your puzzle, making it so much easier than you ever thought. If you use your professional vocabulary, you can create a puzzle for target audiences, and attract even more attention to your business. Most sites that allow you to submit puzzles will give you credit, with a link to your website included in the credits. Puzzle solvers love puzzles with a theme, and the challenge is usually eagerly accepted. So, consider using a puzzle builder and creating some niche-specific puzzles.

Make Money

By submitting puzzles and games to online game site, you can make money in at least two different ways. The first way, of course, is through increased customer traffic. As word gets out about your site, and more people visit it, you will start making more sales.

But, another way you may make money is through the gaming site itself. Some of them actually pay you if they use your material! So, give it a try. Create a jigsaw puzzle or some other game, and start promoting your business.

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Jigsaw Puzzles and Footballs

Jigsaw puzzles are made up of pieces which are regular repeating shapes. This kind of recurring pattern is known as tessellations , and the maths and geometry that define such shapes is fundamental to the software and websites that rely on such repeating patterns, including those offering free online jigsaw puzzles.

But tessellations are not just a feature of this kind of free jigsaw puzzles. They occur throughout nature and the physical world, often in the most common of places, and an example of this is the football (or if you’re in the US – Soccer Ball).

The challenge for manufacturers of the balls is to produce as near a spherical shape as possible, with as few pieces of material as they can manage, and which moves through the air in a reliable and predictable way. Many designs have been tried over the years, and it was during the 1976 World Cup that a now familiar style of ball appeared, which went on to became the standard international game-ball for almost thirty years.

The balls are made from flat sections of material (often leather) that are stitched together. The spherical shape is then achieved when the ball is inflated and the internal pressure forces out the flexible fabric. The geometrical description of the shape is a type of spherical polyhedron called a truncated icosahedron, and in the case of the football comprises a pattern of regular pentagons and hexagons. So it varies a little from online jigsaw puzzles, which tend to use a single repeating shape, and is more accurately described as a semi-tessellation. The classic icosahedron has 20 triangular faces, 30 edges and 12 vertices, and the football design is development on the theme.
The key factor for the design is that it must achieve the balance of a certain degree of flexibility while retaining a good shape in flight. This is needed because if the ball were too solid, it would injure the player’s feet when it was kicked, but if it was too soft, it would distort when kicked hard and the irregular shape would make the path of the ball unpredictable once it was in flight. The combination of hexagons surrounded by pentagons was found to have this combination strength and excellent aerodynamics, making it very popular with players.

The design also has the advantage of being visually attractive. While this may not seem particularly relevant as it is the physical characteristics of how a ball behaves once it has been kicked that are crucial to the success of a ball during a game, it does have great commercial significance. The modern game is big business, with merchandising raising millions for clubs and manufacturers as fans rush to buy the products they see their footballing heroes use. By being the official World Cup match ball, this design became the standard shape that both players and fans wanted to use around the world, creating a large and lucrative market for the designers of the ball.

So, while a modern football may not seem to have much to do with free jigsaw puzzles, the maths behind the shapes that are fundamental to both are, in fact, more similar than you may think.

 

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Online Gaming ‘s Greatest Battle

In January of this year we saw a demonstration of just how big and complex online gaming  has become.  A minor oversight in one player’s online account led to a chain of events that resulted in 4000 players worldwide slugging it out in an interstellar battle of epic proportions.  The devastation was widespread, with ships and space stations laid waste, thousands of hours of gameplay time and effort was undone, and the companie’s servers almost toppled under the strain of the online gaming frenzy it was trying to deal with.

An Online Gaming Universe Unravels

The Massively Multi Player Game “Eve” is produced and run by CCP Games, based in Reykjavik, Iceland, and it has created an online universe that allows thousands of players around the world to take part at any one time. It has been running since 2003, and the features of the game itself are:

  • It’s set 21,000 years in the future.
  • The game continues to develop even when players are offline. So if, for example, you leave the keys to your spaceship in a bar – they could be stolen by someone else while you’re asleep.
  • How you play the game is entirely up to you.
  • As a gamer, you are a warship pilot and can either go it alone, form alliances with other players, or join one of the factions that have sprung up and are made up of hundreds of players.
  • The game has its own inter- galactic economy and, just like in the real world, nothing gets done or built without being paid for, so part of the game is making deals and paying your way.
  • It’s possible to convert real-world money into virtual money to gain advantages while playing.
  • Gamers make their way by trading, fighting, building ships and stations, forming alliances and working within, or around, groups and societies.

So far over 500,000 gamers are registered as active players, and when large battles erupt the company servers struggle to cope with the processing demands of all the commands and responses required to keep the online gamers screens’ updated with the live action.

What happened in January of this year was a classic example of the butterfly effect within a complex system, and it started in such a real world way.

One gamer was supposed to pay a virtual bill to ensure a particular area of the galaxy was fortified.  This didn’t happen, and a sharp eyed opponent spotted the resulting gap in the defenses and launched an attack.  The surprise attack was so successful it required a strong response, which drew in further players and the escalation began.  The online gaming battle lasted for 14 hours and at its peak involved over 4000 active players, all engaged in inter-galactic mayhem.  The battle was also watched by thousands of other players using the online streaming facility.

Apparently it was so absorbing for the players that many were reported to have bunked off work for the day (it was a Monday) just to make sure they were involved in the action.

The only thing that stopped the servers from collapsing under the strain was the instigation of  what CCP Games calls ‘time dilation,’ which slows down the game’s servers to about 10 percent of normal time.  In this way the players aren’t dropped and their commands are issued in the order in which they were received. The company stated this made for a “massive but slow” battle.

By the end, many online gamers were looking at the wreckage of what had taken hundreds of hours of gameplay to build (and in some cases hundreds of dollars of real money to buy credits).  Most however seemed un-phased, and were just happy to have taken part in what has become part of online gaming history.

Views of the Battle as it Raged Onscreen

 

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Read more:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2547908/EVE-online-sees-biggest-battle.html#ixzz317bWMvov

http://www.wired.com/2014/02/eve-online-battle-of-b-r/

http://www.polygon.com/2014/1/28/5352774/eve-online-wages-largest-battle-in-its-10-year-history

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Are You One in 700 Million?

So, during the board meeting this morning, did you sneak in a quick game of Spider Solitaire? If so, you’re in good company. It is estimated that over 700 million people play online games of some type EVERY DAY! In fact, some people actually make a living doing so. In fact, according to Venture Beat, nearly one half of the entire online population plays online games.

Something For Everyone

Contrary to the stereotype, online gaming and online jigsaw puzzles is not limited to 20 somethings who live in their parents’ basements. This phenomenon reaches every age group, both genders, and all socio/economic classes.

Of these 700 million online gamers, the gender breakdown is 46% women and 54% men. Somehow predictably, women prefer strategy and word games, girls like dress-up, girly games, and males of all ages prefer action games.

Play Anywhere

Well, ok, some online gamers do live in their parents’ basements, absorbed in first person action games. But, the truth is, the vast majority of people play their games while sitting on the living room sofa. Many usually have a game going on while they watch TV. Perhaps the next most popular, comfy spot for working online jigsaw puzzles or racing around a NASCAR track is in bed.

Over ½ of us play while we’re waiting for an appointment. That saves us from having to read last year’s magazines – again. Two thirds of us play our online games while we’re stuck in traffic, or riding as a passenger.

The bathroom is perhaps the only place where some people find the privacy to enjoy their online games and jigsaw puzzles, with 1/3 of gamers playing while on the “porcelain throne”.

PLATO

We can really blame PLATO for online gaming. Not Plato, the philosopher, but PLATO, the time sharing system. This system was invented by the University of Illinois all the way back in 1970, and was the first to allow multiple terminals to share one computer. And, it wasn’t actually a gaming system, but an educational system. Students could attend classes from various locations – both around the classroom and, eventually, from distant sites – on the PLATO system. Naturally, the most logical next step for the students was to start designing games they could play with each other, rather than studying. These games were mostly combat and space games, with a dungeon thrown in for variety. The combination of off-task student behavior and alert, enterprising instructors provided the first “hosted” games, growing in popularity along with the technology of modems and computer networking. Up until then, Games such as “The Oregon Trail” and “Star Trek”, single player games that several people could play at once, but could not communicate with each other.

Keep in mind, though, that all of this was in-house gaming. Everything was hosted on one computer, and networking was the outgrowth from that. A number of games circulated around up until internet was invented.

Internet

Then, one day, Al Gore miraculously invented the internet. It was the very first day of 1983, and the genie was now out of the bottle. All of these networked computer systems could play with each other, either in peer sharing configurations or in server setups. Of course, the internet changed just about everything in this world, and wireless internet changed everything else.

A Whole New World

Online gaming now is not limited to a desktop computer. It’s not even limited to a laptop. As you well know, there are consoles specifically sold to unite gamers worldwide to play a wide variety of games, and some gamers even make a living doing so. “World of Warcraft”, or WOW, is such a big deal that skilled players are sponsored, making a regular paycheck for playing online. These people ensconce themselves in high-tech simulator-style cocoons, pausing from their work only to shop for newer upgrades.

Handheld devices have evolved, providing us with the ability to keep up with our games while we travel, sit at our desk job, or point our tractor down a row of cotton. You can pause during your job of checking software coding and water your kitchen garden, or you can design a city zoo while your tractor chops weeds.

There is no limit to the entertainment we can find. From online crossword and free jigsaw puzzles to entire battle scenarios, online gaming has something for everyone.

 

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