Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hobby #14: Competitive Gaming

Competitive gaming is something very obscure. Competitive gaming, in simple terms, is playing games against a very large scoreboard. There are tournaments and records for nearly every video game published, and not to mention it's actually very fun.

There is competitive gaming of many sorts. Multiplayer, scoreboard, speed run, the list goes on. On one hand, you could use Battle.net to play multiplayer Diablo or Warcraft. You could try your hand at a Galaga High-score at Twingalaxies.com. You could play Super Smash Brothers Brawl in the Major League Gaming online tournament. You could beat Super Mario Brothers 3 in the fastest time and beat the record on Speeddemosarchive.com The list goes on.

But this is definitely not for the faint hearted. The Pac-Man record is unbeatable: It is a perfect score. You can only hope to tie it after painful training. The Super Mario Brothers record can only possibly be improved by frames, Hundredths of a second. If you don't believe me, take a look at this.

Just a small example of what intensity this can bring. This is not something for the weak. If you think you can do it, good luck. If you can't, well, you can always admire.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Hobby #13: Quarter Bouncing

Quarter Bouncing, also called quarters, is a game often played in bars. The object of the game is to bounce the quarters on the table into the glass. Easier said than done.

Quarters is a popular drinking game. In quarters, you bounce a coin into a glass of an alcoholic beverage. For every sucessful bounce into the glass, your opponent needs to drink the entire cup. The game ends when one player cannot drink anymore.

Quarters is a very enjoyable game, and it isn't necesarry to involve beer or alcohol. You could simply play it as a fun game or an interesting skill.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hobby #12: The Game of Amazons

The Game of Amazons, often called Amazons, is a board game with hybrid qualities of chess and go. It is a very interesting game and is not very difficult to learn.

Amazons is played on a 10x10 board, and has very simple rules. First you set up the pieces as shown in the image below.

You have 4 amazons, each of which move exactly like the queen in chess. They cannot capture other amazons. On the first turn, the white player moves one amazon and then fires an arrow. Arrow firing works like this: after you move, you can fire an arrow in a queen-like move from your resulting position. Amazons cannot move through arrows, and arrows cannot travel over arrows. The first person to run out of moves is the loser.

The Game of Amazons was first called "El Huego de las Amazonas", and was first published in an argentine puzzle magazine, "El Acertijo" in 1992. A man by the name of Michael Keller released an english translation, and published it in NOST-algia, a chess magazine. The game picked up a small following and took off from there.

Math time! Amazons is currently listed as the 4th most complicated board game recognized by wikipedia. It's game tree complexity remains unclear. It is within the range of 10^162 to 10^226.

Amazons is a very fun game that shouldn't take more than 10 minutes to learn. It's a deep strategy game, and there aren't any big openings or complicated theories to study. Just a fun, casual game for all to enjoy.

Hobby #11: Shogi

Shogi is another board game that has it's origins in japan. It is much more difficult to learn and play than western chess, and is just under 2 times as complex. Shogi is the 3rd most complex board game officially recognized, having a 10^226 game tree complexity. In comparison, chess has 10^123 and go has 10^360.

Shogi is the most popular strategy board game in japan. In a 1995 study, 70% of japanese boys ages 16-19 play shogi, and 61% of girls own a shogi set as well. Western chess is played by 15% of the population, and go only 7%.

Shogi is played on a 9x9 board, and if I could compare it to anything, it would be bughouse chess. If you've never heard of it, bughouse chess is a variant of chess that is popular among clubs for killing time. bughouse chess is different than regular chess in that you play in pairs and when a piece is captured you hand it to your partner. Your partner can then place the piece anywhere on the board with a few ristrictions. Shogi is very similar. If a piece is captured in shogi, you keep it for later use, and you can place it when necessary.

Shogi is a very difficult game to learn completely. There are many terms and rules to learn, and you also need to memorize certain japanese characters. It is immensely complex. However, if you DO learn this game, you can brag about how you play a game more complex than chess and checkers combined! (Seriously. 10^123 + 10^54 < 10^226.)