February 01, 2010
Well, I was all excited for about four days before I came across Wikiracing. I should have known this would have been thought up long ago.
This was going to be a follow up post after talking to my friend Chris. We thought up waypoints and a better scoring scheme. Now, the only interesting addition to what already exists is the concept of big bonus points for following a link away from Wikipedia and then another link back into Wikipedia along the path.
Original version kept below for posterity sake.
I’ve created a new game. Quite originally, I’ve called it the Wikipedia Game.
Here’s how you play:
This is sort of neat for several reasons. Wikipedia is an enormous hyperconnected graph of information. The challenge is a combination of speed, knowledge, and intuition based on what connections articles have. I’m not convinced that there’s a path from any article to any other article (in the limit case at least), but this can generally be accepted as true. The browser takes care of recording a player’s moves, so you can follow paths anywhere and if it doesn’t pan out you just use the back button to retreat. The browser will always report the last path, so when you arrive at the destination you’ll have the full history (and it’s easy to check).
The unique and different thing about The Wikipedia Game is that it relies on a sort of relational knowledge that people have. Expertise in the subjects of the pages traversed isn’t necessary at all; rather a feel for how the path of knowledge might spread to the goal is what determines success.
An example might help. I tried this on January 15th and picked “Laser” at random. My path was:
6 Hops. Not too bad.
Next, I tried True Blood on January 28th. The path:
Ugh. A shorter try:
Better, but I still feel a bit iffy about using Categories. It feels cheapish.
The strategy seems to be to pick something relevant, or at least orthogonal, and move to a very general page and then back to the specific page. I suspect certain subjects will be easier than others. Geography, history, or animal and plant species seem relatively easy compared to a more esoteric entry like, say, Illegal Primes.
I suspect that a score over 10 isn’t really trying too hard, especially if you allow Category pages. Once you get down to about 6 or 7, dropping off each step will get harder. Wikipedia has on the order of 10^6 articles, so that feels about right.
Some variations include: