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Science-based games – a collaborative list (github.com)
165 points by mettamage 12 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 39 comments



I really don't think those github lists lists are the right format. You want something were people can endorse some recommendations over others, maybe post comments etc...

Here all the curation work falls back on the "maintainer", who has to decide where to draw the line when accepting or rejecting pull requests.

If the maintainer/editor is very strict and reviews each PR thoroughly then the format is no different from any blog post where the author accepts feedback and recommendations through comments or email.

If the maintainer/editor accepts most PRs with little review the list quickly becomes overcrowded and generally useless since it's not possible for the community at large to correct it.

I guess one could easily design a website where you let users create resource lists based on certain topics and you let the community at large contribute recommendations and vote on them. You could even make money out of it by using affiliate links. I don't know if something like that exists already.


I agree it's not an ideal format. If you have a better idea, go for it!

Yes, it is "just a bit more collaborative" blog post. I considered writing such... but then decided that GitHub list may be more open for modifications, updated and possible collaboration.(BTW: it started as a Hackpad in which I started collecting such games, then shared with a few friends of mine.)

Yes, it may benefit from other stuff (e.g. some votes on thing). Yet, I wanted it to be minimalistic, so it will be for a longer time (everything with backend crushes sooner or later). Plus, I didn't have much time to put it in a more appealing form (hence I asked about YAML+searchable - if it is worth to invest in it.)

As I side note, I don't like "awesome" lists, as they just collect links with not enough description. Here I tried to hint what's game type and subject.


Maybe they're not the right format, but they do work, and I don't think what you proposed would be better. Here are some benefits of the GitHub lists:

1. They use a very popular platform, on which most potential contributors have an account and probably use it daily.

2. They offer no-bullshit interface that presents you what you want to collaborate on and tools to do that, not trying to distract you with anything else.

3. Nobody is trying to make money off it, there are no affilate links, ads, or other monetizing bullshit, which is precisely why those lists are much more reliable and trustworthy than what would be posted on a hypothetical service you propose.

I agree that GitHub doesn't offer all the things such lists could use (like voting), but it's close enough, and to move those lists elsewhere you'd have to solve the network effect of #1.


>1. They use a very popular platform, on which most potential contributors have an account and probably use it daily.

I'd argue that "science-based game" could interest many more people than the subset of github users. If it was a list of programming resources then maybe, but even then many coders don't have a github account. I wager that "community curated list of resources" has a much bigger potential user base than github. "A list of resources to learn guitar", "a list of resources to learn Chinese history", "a list of portuguese language telenovelas" etc...

>2. They offer no-bullshit interface that presents you what you want to collaborate on and tools to do that, not trying to distract you with anything else.

Uh, dealing with pull requests is a no-bullshit interface to add an entry to a list? What percentage of the population do you think understands what a pull request is, let alone how to create one? What if there's a conflict and the maintainer asks you to merge and update it? That's not exactly facebook-level friendly right there.

>3. Nobody is trying to make money off it, there are no affiliate links, ads, or other monetizing bullshit, which is precisely why those lists are much more reliable and trustworthy than what would be posted on a hypothetical service you propose.

How so? If the lists become untrustworthy people will stop using it and the website loses money. There's no incentive for the website to mess with the lists themselves. And if you're thinking about "corruption" to bump certain resources to the top it could happen regardless of the rest, and it could be even more tempting if you don't actually have an other way to make "legit" money.


> I'd argue that "science-based game" could interest many more people than the subset of github users. If it was a list of programming resources then maybe, but even then many coders don't have a github account.

In terms of contributing, fair enough - but for just viewing, GitHub lists are public.

> What percentage of the population do you think understands what a pull request is, let alone how to create one?

If you edit directly on the GitHub website you don't have to deal with that, as it is mostly handled for you automagically in the background. It's not Facebook-level friendly, but then again this little barrier to entry probably does wonders for the quality.

--

Re point 3, I could respond sentence by sentence, but what I really mean is that the site sets the tone and the culture on it.

I can trust user-submitted lists on GitHub due to its culture. I wouldn't trust a user-submitted list on an ad-ridden site and/or the site that significantly rewards people for contributing. Commercial interests destroy the quality and trustworthiness of information, so the best place to post such lists is a place that doesn't care about the content it hosts.

GitHub works because it's ad-free, free to use for contributors and readers alike, and doesn't try to monetize hosted content directly. So they don't set a money-making tone for their service, and they don't generally interfere with user-submitted content.

--

Still, I think the core reason GitHub is used is that GitHub is good enough, and is already popular with the developers.


List maintainter here.

As the description says, you are invited to contribute!

One question - do you prefer it Markdown way, or YAML + some searchable features, with screenshots? (Inspiration: http://ndres.me/kaggle-past-solutions/.)

And thank you mettamage (vide https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14661821)! :)



Yeah when I saw the title, my brain immediately went to Sierra Madre Games (particularly BIOS: Genesis and High Frontier), which are incredibly-designed simulation machines under the guise of tabletop games.


A good question. In general - yes, just game it clear in the description.

In this case I will as SET. :)


A couple CS games not mentioned:

* Lightbot (covers much the same ground as Robozzle)

* Manufactoria (explicitly manipulating Turing tapes)


Please do Pull Requests. :)


Cool.

I'd nominate Dwarf Fortress for the geology and anatomy bits, and all the rest, though I hesitate to classify that.


Or, AFAIK, you can build Turing-complete stuff. However, I prefer to avoid adding games so complex/advanced.

Science has to be its main part of mechanics, rather than some subpart, as:

"Any sufficiently advanced game is indistinguishable from a science-based game."

(Saw somewhere on HN "Any sufficiently advanced text editor is indistinguishable from a dedicated app." Yes, I know it's from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarke%27s_three_laws.)


I don't understand neither your objection to complexity, nor how to determine "the main part of mechanics" in a sufficiently complex game.

What's the main part of the mechanics in DF? I play it for 7+ years and I have no idea. Most likely, there isn't any.

Still I learned much - directly and by piqued interest - about geology - way before attempting to deliver magma to the surface. Years, in fact.

I feel that such focus on "main part of mechanics" is wrong.

It's like you'd accept a pool simulator because it's "main part" is the combination of perfectly elastic collision and conservation of momentum and reject KSP because "it's too complex".

Of course it's complex. How do you expect to learn anything if it's not?


> Saw somewhere on HN "Any sufficiently advanced text editor is indistinguishable from a dedicated app."

You mean, "any sufficiently advanced text editor is indistinguishable from an operating system"? :).

And the joke isn't that sentence - the real joke is that such a text editor can offer better UX than your regular operating system...


Great work and initiative.

A quick suggestion:

The bullets seem to be at the same level for the name + link of the game and the characteristics of the game. This gets a little confusing as in some cases I thought the second or third bullet point is also another game but lacks hyperlink - thus tried clicking them.

Hence, if you can make them as sub-headings/ sub-bullets or may be within parentheses or some visual differentiation, it will be great.


Wow, amazing how this blew up!

My own list is here [1]. It's a bit of a mess.

My focus is slightly different. I focus on educational/entertaining. It's also in Dutch/English. I think lists like these are important. I've noticed when I was studying game psychology (master @ University of Amsterdam) that teachers have too little of an idea on how to create educational games that are also quite entertaining.

Allow me to translate the most interesting entries of my list:

__Educational Games That Are Entertaining (sorted by perceived entertainment, in my experience -- yes it is subjective)__

Parable of the Polygons: already on the Github list

The Bézier Game: Loved this game! I learned about how to use the Bezier tool.

Factorio: entertainment game. I found out it really really really helps for programmatic thinking because secretly you write functions all the time and think about the inputs and outputs of systems. My CodeCombat friend learned a thing or two about scalability issues as well through this game.

Miegakure: not out yet, but 4D experiments! -- expected perceived entertainment

Fragments of Him: experience how it is to lose your loved one

Flexbog Froggy: CSS flexbox game

CSS Diner: learn CSS selectors

Vim Adventures: the whole reason this HN submission blew up

CodeCombat: learn coding, a friend of my played it before he went to a coding school. In his opinion, it doesn't teach you coding all the way -- it's because you use their own API and cannot relate it to the real world fully -- but it gives you an amazing head start.

Ovelin.com: guitar hero IRL (also piano's now)

SineRider: learn about sine equations

Re-mission: makes the disease cancer discussable and allows people to learn about it (targeted at patients) and reminds them to take their medicine -- I didn't play this but heard good things about it.

__Games that are educational if you have the mindset__

There are entertainment games (i.e. the educational games that I listed above) but by being a serious player you can make more games educational. Here are my favorite examples (I didn't play WoW but I read a paper about it). Strictly speaking Factorio should be on this list, but in my opinion the creator cuts himself short by not stating it's an educational game.

World of Warcraft (in a language that you don't know): research showed it teaches you language provided you have 100 to 200 hours of basics in already [3].

Flappy Bird: learn all about why you get frustrated (I also wrote a paper about it see [2]).

[1] https://docs.google.com/document/d/1l04gq4HyBsWNqYoNsLJ8MMU-...

[2] http://sander.landofsand.com/publications/roest-bakkes-2015....

[3] I can't find the paper now via Google Scholar, I'll add a comment after a couple of days. I'll be at a location where I can access the paper in physical form.

Edit: I'll gather all the links of the games later.

Edit 2: I miss games like Civ (primed me to look more into politics -- serious player list) and Minecraft (both educational and serious player list). I miss a lot of games actually.


Game-design principles that I distilled:

- It's easier to make an entertaining/educational game if your game is short -- 15 to 30 minutes.

- Friends make a game more fun (e.g. happened with me with Factorio)

- Good design makes everything more fun (also seen with the game show Extra Credits)

- You can piggyback on proven game formulas -- e.g. Vim Adventurs or Code Combat (RPG like) -- and alter them (or not!) -- e.g. Ovelin.com

- You can make use of metaphors/fantasy to train people their skills in another area (e.g. Factorio with programming). This is the biggest key on how to make games more entertaining that currently remains unused. A study shows that making a game more engaging could heighten motivation for playing but lower learning in several cases [1].

[1] Title: The Effect of Familiar and Fantasy Aesthetics on Learning and Experience of Serious Games -- Authors: Erik D. van der Spek, Tatiana Sidorenkova, Paul Porskamp and Matthias Rauterberg -- Link: http://ai2-s2-pdfs.s3.amazonaws.com/b242/0ca8de756bb3dc0bf23...


I know The Bézier Game! Make PRs please. :)


Awesome!


Depression Quest has no business being on that list.

"understanding depression (esp. for ones who never experienced it)"

Even the description is elitist and pretentious. Everyone has experienced depression. It's an extremely common mental disorder. DQ is nothing more than a lackluster text-based visual novel (if you can call it that) cashing in on an easily exploitable group.


As person who added it to the list, I maintain that it has a place here. (And yes, I know it is controversional. And yes, I have had depressive episodes. And I had been leaving with a close person with depression for a prolonged time.)

Description may be not ideal - so feel free to propose a different one (via PR).

> Everyone has experienced depression.

Not everyone. And people who have never had it go into annoying and counterproductive 'get over it' as they really think that it is about typical sadness, laziness or (very temporary) low mood. Or that people suffering are just too dumb to realize that some activities may help them.

And I found this game useful in explaining depression to such people. Especially as:

- very often one is well aware of beneficial steps, yet having no energy/will/hope to do them (captured wonderfully in this game!),

- that even positive things (committed relationship, social gathering etc) are at best small steps, they aren't enough just to "cheer someone up".

For a better resource (but not a game), I send: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2013/05/depression-par....

EDIT: That said, I don't mean that Depression Game is a good game for everyone.

EDIT2: IT is here are its mechanics is mechanics of depression (psychology).


But is it "science-based"? One can relate to a piece of art (music, games, movies, paintings...) but it doesn't have much to do with actual science. Is the actual game based on scientific research in one way or an other?


Read dscription, not only title.


What description? I've tried "playing" the first few screens of the game here: http://www.depressionquest.com/dqfinal.html

So far it looks like any other visual novel and I can't find any mention of scientific research anywhere. I really don't understand what's scientific about any of that. It would be like saying that the movie "Memento" is scientific because it features anterograde amnesia.


Description of the list.

"Memento" is not an interactive experience. (And the condition is not common.)

If there were a game with mechanics on living with OCD, it would fit.


It's a game you like, fine. Which part of it is based on science? But, your list - your (interpretation of) rules. You know and I know that if it was democratic KSP would be at the top and DP would be nowhere. And at the same time you allow something so tangential as DP you disallow DF, for shame.


"science-based" is a shortcut; description, not it's definition.

What I have in my mind, is about games with its core mechanics being to something related to (yes, it can be psychology; or international relationships).

Some game that would be "I played X for it's own sake, yet I've learnt how Y works.".

And clearly, it's not a game of "games I like the most" or "the most advanced games" or anything. (For both of these aspects DF >> DQ.)

In any case, seeing how you think: Kerbal Space Program is clearly one of the most popular games in this category, but nowhere near specific as, say, Velocity Raptor. (Yet, order is kind of incidental.)


In the end it's a judgment call but to quote you from this page: "Science has to be its main part of mechanics, rather than some subpart". This is a fair reason to reject DF. This is a fair reason to reject DQ (or do you disagree?).


"It is here are its mechanics is mechanics of depression (psychology)."


> Even the description is elitist and pretentious.

It may or may not be elitist and pretentious (what kind of art isn't?), but that has no influence on whether it is science based or not.

> Everyone has experienced depression.

Well, this is simply not true.


Have you played DQ? Where's the science behind it? If that counts as a science-based game then you might as well throw in Call of Duty so that people can "experience" the horrors of war or Darkest Dungeon so players can learn about PTSD.


I never said or implied that I believe it is science based. I highly doubt it is. However I hadn't played it so I'm not going to argue about that.

What I said is that your argumentation is absolutely incorrect and wrong in this context.


So you're not debating the scientific-accuracy of DQ, or its merit whether it belongs on the list, you're merely debating whether the words I used were correct.

Basically you're not taking part in the point of the original discussion?


I am taking part in the discussion indirectly by pointing out that your argumentation is irrelevant and does not support your opinion.

It's not the words that were incorrect. The logic behind them is flawed. The list is supposed to convey games with element of science in them. The entries which are not based on science should be removed from the list. Therefore correct argumentation for removing DQ from the list should explain why the game has nothing to do with actual science.



Before the, um, "popular" backlash, Depression Quest was actually well received by critics.

In my opinion, looking at metacritic user reviews now is not a good metric in this case: Depression Quest is one of the games that was a big part of the whole GamerGate debacle (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamergate_controversy). Tensions ran high, people made unfortunate comments and personal attacks, and things quickly ran out of control; a lot of gamers simply set out to punish some games and authors with negative reviews. Unfortunately this means many reviews are suspect and not entirely about whether the game is scientific or not, or about the game itself or its quality for that matter.

As I'm sure you're aware of.

In fact, getting too hung up about this particular entry in the list is (to me) suspect.


Part of the reason DQ was "well received" initially was because at face value it appears as though it's for a cause. Plus, (as mentioned by Gamergate) there's an unwritten rule about criticizing anything even remotely appearing "progressive."

It's not hard to find overwhelming posts pointing these facts out: https://www.reddit.com/r/OutOfTheLoop/comments/2dw9hh/why_is...

Any the cherry on top is your last line. "Suspect" Once again, either people are forced to cave in, or otherwise be "suspect" or "problematic" or "misogynist" or just the bad guy.

Am I not allowed to point out the simple fact that DQ has no scientific educational value and as such does not belong on that list? If so, why am I not allowed to state this simple truth? Because it's inconvenient?


> Am I not allowed to point out the simple fact that DQ has no scientific educational value

You have, and the person who put DQ in the list disagreed. Why does it matter whether you personally like the game? You said your thing, the other person disagreed. Unless you're emotionally invested in DQ in particular, for unrelated reasons, I'd say the case is closed.




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