Perhaps not blockbusters like Grand Theft Auto, however a new kind of game designed to perform other function while you are playing it.
For instance, take Binary Fission, which challenges you to sort colored atoms in minimum steps possible. It may appear as just another brain teaser puzzle, however you are actually helping to foil cyber-criminals and hackers during the game.
As you solve this puzzle you are in fact helping to validate formally that an underlying program is free from vulnerabilities and bugs which could leave it prone to attack. Because software are critical in running almost anything now a days, from police drones and energy network, emergency services to air traffic control systems, formal verification is important process.
Binary Fission – Golden Balls V/S Blue Balls
SRI international is a California based not for profit research organization, who developed Binary Fission, in partnership with University of California, Santa Cruz and Air Force Research Laboratory.
John Murray, program director at SRI, explains that puzzles are created automatically by game using program data and code from software which is under verification process. Sets of code and data, bad or good, are then converted into colored atoms presented to gamer, gold balls represent bad whereas blue represents good values.
Player needs to choose combination of filters created by game in order to separate gold balls from blue balls and successfully doing so helps in software verification process.
When gamer solves puzzle in such a way they speed up verification process, may be one player on a level of game comes up with key pattern which helps to complete verification task. Says John Murray.
Although this isn’t as exciting as playing Call of Duty: Black Ops, However, Binary Fission and many other verification games are pretty fun, and similar to other puzzle games, Said Simone Castagna, Game designer of shooting and puzzle games.
Volunteer Army is a game which is the part of crowdsourcing project, funded by DARPA. This project is trying to address that every commercial off-the-shelf program usually contains up to 5 bugs per 1000 lines of code.
Problem is formal verification giving mathematical evidence that piece of software is bug-free is complex business.
Michael Ernst, a professor of computer science at University of Washington. He is also a part of DARPA project. He says that formal verification is very difficult and wildly expensive, because you typically need highly paid and highly skilled software engineers for carrying out this process.
There are just 3000-4000 individuals who can carry out such verification process at present, according to Dr. John Murray. Therefore harnessing crowd power, a volunteer army of gaming enthusiast, is a way to cope this issue.
They execute bug bounty systems that offer money to people who finds and reports security susceptibilities in software they are producing. And some firms, like Bugwolf and Bugcrowd, execute these systems on behalf of others. The major difference is that as bug bounty may reduce number of errors in a software, they cannot provide guarantee that there are not more errors yet to be found.
Making games which help with formal verifications, are also fun playing has proven to be tricky. We love to pick up ideas of Candy Crush and Angry birds and turn them into something which does useful job, however it turns out which you cannot, Michael Ernst says.
In order to encode problems that we are tackling with, such puzzles would need had to have been vast, like Candy Crush which had 10,000 fruits. Such specialist games cannot just copy the format of popular Candy Crush. So far there are only 6 of these specialist games mentioned on Verigames.com site by DARPA.
Andrew Keplinger, Designer of 2 games in DARPA’s project, and president of Connecticut-based Left Brain Games, reported similar experience. He said, in effect, you are getting gamers to perform disguised jobs. We initiated off by applying ideas of existing PC games like Candy Crush, or maze games, however what we discover is that underlying info that we had to use just did not work with such games.Read more article about FPS Games.
Therefore in the end we had had to move in other directions by taking underlying science as well as seeing how to make it fun.