Elisa, Elisa, Elisa cherche-moi des…

February 2nd, 2012 by

martin for blog

She’s a tough nut to crack. ELIZA is a computer program that uses natural language processing. Huh? Natural what what? Basically some MIT nerds got together in the ‘60s and made a computer language that can interact with human language. Some of us are old enough to know Microsoft Office’s Clippy. Yup, he (she? hm…) interacts with you through natural language processing. So, no – there aren’t a bunch of people offshore messing with your head typing in responses to your statements. The computer can interact with you. It’s awesome, particularly in game form.

All that to say, the Computerspiele (Computer Game) Museum in Berlin is pretty amazing. From Space Invaders, to the GDR Pacman ripoff, Hase und Wulf, you’ll be able to scope out tons of the milestones that built us up to Crowdpark’s social games we all love today. Pet Vegas, where would you be without ELIZA?

This past Sunday we went to the museum to support Norbert Haaks, a friend from Newtracks who was participating in a cool Game Jam event. Norbert made a cool snake-eating-its-tail game in just 48 hours with a group of game designers and developers. Cool stuff, Norbert.

At the museum, we played Zork: The Great Underground Empire – Part I, which was published by Infocom in 1980. The Zork games series grew out of ELIZA. The player hunts around for various objects near a house and navigates the game by inputting commands with a keyboard. There’s no image – only text. Just a warning, it helps to be a human compass since Zork loves cardinal directions. Those of us who are poets and dreamers get lost in Never Never Land. Guess I have to practice. I found out you can actually get a version of Zork for your iPhone if you can’t check it out at the museum. I also discovered that some of this the early stuff gets nestled into more modern games. For example, Zork has reared its ugly head again in a special feature in Call of Duty: Black Ops produced by Activision and Treyarch in 2010.

I guess this post has put to rest any doubt that Crowdpark is full of geeks. O.k., off to book tickets for the Game Developers’ Conference in San Francisco.


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