Aug

8

Is the Bot Still Relevant in Social Gaming?

Mark Stephens

Playing against the computer, or the “bot”, has been part of electronic gaming since the early days. Back then gaming was often a solitary experience, not only because technology didn’t allow the interactive communication it does today, but few people had the equipment or the desire to play electronic games then. So the bot was a key figure. Nowadays, with social and mobile gaming a dominant part of the modern life, does the bot still hold an important place in gamers’ hearts?

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Fancy a game of Chess? Play the Bot!

Computer Chess is a great illustration of a game where playing the bot has traditionally been popular. It highlights the two main attractions of playing against a computer:

1. Because there is nobody else around to play – and you fancy a game

2. To hone your skills

Chess is one of the world’s most popular and most famous board games and it translated very well to an electronic format. But, in the early days, without the communication networks we have today, it was usually a case of having to play against the computer unless you had a chess-playing buddy round. And, if you did, you may as well just get the real board out and play, anyway.

With the rise of the PC and the Internet and, more specifically, when broadband came along, it quickly became easy to play against people all over the world. Now, with social gaming networks boasting thousands upon thousands of chess enthusiasts, it is nearly always possible to find someone to have a game with.

This doesn’t mean that the bot has become totally redundant though, as the second reason stated above remains valid. The bot is always a good player. Very, very good, actually. This means that players can learn from it and hone their strategy and skills.

This is especially attractive for a newcomer to a complex and highly strategical game like chess, where the number of possible permutations and moves are mind-boggling.

The bot allows you a “dry run” before you take to the tricky “slopes” and start playing real people.

Social? Not Me!

Another reason why the good old bot remains relevant is that, despite the explosion of social networks, not everyone likes to be “social” all the time!

The permanently connected, constantly chatting, Facebook-updating generation can get a bit too much. It can be overkill. Sometimes we want to play a game anonymously where we don’t have to talk to anyone or interact at all. Peacefully and innocently playing a game against the bot while spread-eagled on the couch on a quiet Sunday afternoon allows us to do this, guilt-free! The bot doesn’t wonder why we are ignoring their chat messages, or think we’re being rude!

Likewise, for people who love playing games, but often get called away (maybe they have small kids to attend to), computer opposition doesn’t get offended when you don’t complete the game there and then; you can go away for a few hours and resume the game later without any moaning opponents bugging you!

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Sometimes, poor internet connections let players down too; constant drop outs can be frustrating for players, but it is less serious if you are not playing intolerant human opposition.

Dangers of “Over-Botting”

One of the main dangers of playing too much against a computer is that, because it rarely makes mistakes, you may have trouble recognising when real players stumble. Real players are prone to errors and will encompass all skill levels, so you don’t want to play so much against “perfection” that you are conditioned to expect that from your human opposition and miss their repeated blunders.

Most players, when they play against a computer, will get into the habit of expecting any mistake they make to be jumped upon immediately and punished.

This doesn’t always happen when playing against weaker human opponents and the game may ebb and flow more naturally than in the strict and harsh gaming environment of a ruthless computer opponent.

Because bots are so good, it can become a little demoralizing to be constantly beaten by them. It may even demotivate some people and has the potential to drive them away from the game.

The MindFeud Bot

Did you know that our MindFeud game features a very intelligent bot called ADAMA? In MindFeud you can, of course challenge friends or random opponents mobile
on the network; if you want an instant game against an expert opponent just select “Challenge ADAMA” and a game starts immediately. It’s a great way to learn the game and see how the pros play!

ADAMA is good proof that bots are alive and well – and still an important part of the social gaming community.