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Adjusting Halo 
Wednesday, October 3, 2007, 08:00 AM - Extra Christy
Angels are no longer the first image when Halo is mentioned. Halo is now associated with a series of computer battle games played against (and with!) computer driven characters, on-line groups, or networked computers.

Halo 3 went on sale last week and brought in a record setting $170 million in sales on its first day. (The previous first day record was held by Halo 2 at $125 million.) More than 1 million people played Halo 3 on-line on the first day, this all according to Paul McDougall in an article in Information Week.

In a Wired.com article by Clive Thompson, Damian Isla, half of the duo who built the smarts of the computer characters in Halo 3, admits that, at first, the artificial intelligence produced chaos when the virtual marines were ordered to go from here to there. "They'd be running into each other and getting in each other's way and doing all kinds of crazy (stuff)," Isla says.

Each marine character in the game had been programmed to navigate around trees, boulders, and other landscape features. The problem is that they treated the other marines as part of the landscape: obstacles to avoid. So Isla taught the program to recognize other marines as fellow travelers, not stumbling blocks, and the marines started "slowing down for each other and sort of coordinating their movement and actually looking like they're aware of each other."

Games are enjoyable partly because they model life. Even a war game can teach us the benefit of treating other people as persons with goals in common with our own. Everyone suffers when folks are seen as obstacles or dismissed as merely the landscape for our life. Chaos becomes order with the addition of the recognition of a shared purpose, when people become real to us in community and not just part of the background of our solitary life.

Teammates not Obstacles
Stop being bitter and angry and mad at others. Don't yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude. Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ. -- Ephesians 4:31-32 (CEV)


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