If you live near Oxford…
January 27, 2009 1 Comment
This morning I’ve been reminiscing about Creatures, which I confess I do from time to time. Tony Dickinson just emailed asking for a Creatures video to use in a public lecture he’s giving at Oxford University. I didn’t have one, and I don’t even have Creatures installed on a machine here any more – after all, it’s 13 years since it was published – so I ferreted around on YouTube and found some for him there.
It was kinda sweet to hear the voices of Norns again after all this time. While searching I had a quick look at the excellent Creatures Wiki, which is run by enthusiasts of the game, and was boggled to discover it now has over 3,000 pages in it. The latest change was only two days ago, so it’s great to see it still active. I love Creatures fans – they’re so dedicated and inventive. When the game first came out I didn’t have much chance for contact with the community because I had to be all “corporate” about it and stay in the background somewhat, but it was great to watch the things people were doing with the game, from debates about cruelty to “Norn Genome Projects”. My upcoming Sim-biosis game doesn’t touch quite the same nerves as Creatures did, because it’s more biological than psychological, but I really, really hope some people get off on it and explore the envelope in a similar way.
Anyway, I’m just rambling. But if you happen to live near Oxford, you might be interested in the Herbert Spencer lecture series, which is open to the public. Tony’s lecture (Feb 9th) is called “Beast machines or cognitive creatures?” and my guess is that it will have something to do with goal-directedness versus reactive behavior. My norns fit firmly into the reactive category, sadly, and at best can only learn to chain together stimulus-response pairs. That’s partly why I started my Lucy robot – to explore more fundamentally goal-directed, ideomotor ideas, thinking about neural representations for creating mental models and mental imagery.