You let the dice go. They dance for a moment. Looking down, you see those serpentine eyes staring back. So you compose yourself and move your dog along to Boardwalk. Any other day, any other game, this roll could have spelled disaster. But not this day, today you take that second blue property with pride. The seeds of a vast empire now sown, in mind and chance.
One element seemed absent from last week’s discussion on Wednesday. The element of probability. The RND function, of 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1));:GOTO 10, was crucial to the program. It added the spice of chaos that gave the maze its power. Similarly, in Monopoly, the roll of the dice is an act in blind chance. With this week’s readings, the interplay of chance and control remains paramount.
Agent-based modelling’s utility is found in the way that it approaches simulation. It does this by allowing us to give characteristics to individuals by way of parameters. It also allows for us to craft the environment in which those individuals act. Here, the divinity is in the details. Alter one trait, there goes this year’s harvest. Bolster another trait, everyone is happy. Introduce an agent of chaos and who knows what will happen?
In my mind, probability and pure chance can be this agent of chaos. The result being, that, the other individuals must react accordingly. The individuals behaviour thereafter “is what economists call ‘bounded rationality’–that is, they make the most rational choices they can based on that limited information.”1
My recommendation, when crafting your problem space remember the sheer fun of random chance. It may fit with the specific historic theme, for example, fur trapping. Engineer an equation that determines whether or not a virtual critter has stumbled upon your trap. Design a situation that changes, be it by random chance or engineered probabilities, and you force the player to adapt.
Oh, and May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favour.
^Cannot resist urge to reference relevant pop culture…
- Jonathan Rauch, “Seeing Around Corners,”The Atlantic, April, 2002, http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2002/04/seeing-around-corners/302471/. [↩]