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Cognitive Science
Completed Project

Adversary Search in a Role Playing Game

Kathryn Hodge, Vassar College ’17, Kelly Yu, Vassar College ’17 and Prof. Thomas Ellman
While creating role-playing games, most game designers strive to create an entertaining and fulfilling experience for the player(s) through a guided story or an open world. However, we rarely see both methods working in unison. Another common trend in commercial games is a lack of social awareness and failure to address social issues. Our work aims to examine and rectify these two aspects of game design. The role-playing game we created allows the player to take on the role of a black youth in a town much like Ferguson, Missouri. The player is given several options to explore in this world such as attending school and/or hanging up posters to promote equality around town. Meanwhile, the player must avoid unjust police interactions. We pulled information and scenarios from the Department of Justice’s report on the Ferguson Police in order to create realistic problems and situations for the player to face. Each choice the player makes will affect the outcome of their fate. With code adapted from previous years’ work, we used an adversary search method, or the Min-Max Algorithm, to determine this fate and ensure a ‘satisfying’ game. The method allows the drama manager of the game to guide the player toward interesting endings without forcing the player towards one single end game.