The Restaurant: Why am I doing this and why am I thinking about doing it again

Here’s a link to an IGF game/psychology experiment called The Restaurant found via VE today:

http://web.media.mit.edu/~jorkin/restaurant/

The instant gratification lover in me barely made it through the mandatory tutorial. I kept thinking, you downloaded a game called “The Restaurant”, you knew what you were getting into, but damn, mandatory tutorials involving serving food, that’s not a whole lot of fun.

Anyway, on the live server, I got a job as a waiter and did my best to provide good customer service. My guy was nice but quiet and kept bringing other peoples dirty dishes to the kitchen. Then at the end he started to get a little frisky so I left him the check and chatted with the bartender. Anyway, he left a generous tip but only ordered soup… tourist.

He left me good marks though, which felt ridiculously validating. You know, I am a damn good waitress! Next time I should really push the lobster…

Can you put special sauce in the food?

They had me at “algorithms”. I will have to play and contribute.

This game is hilarious. I had one guy come in insulting me with surgical precision. I had another guy come in and steal my cash register. Then I got to play the customer, and I had berry pie as an appetizer, followed by 5 glasses of white wine. I was too drunk to leave her a tip.

The “game” is way more entertaining than it should be.

I was just the customer. During my time in the restaurant, the waitress didn’t bring me my food I asked for, keep bringing me alcohol without my asking, and “flirting” (more like talking dirty) with me constantly. Of course, I drank all the alcohol and storming out without paying.

Anyone wanting to play “restaurant” is outta their goddamned mind. (18 hour days just suck…)

So does war, yet COD games keep selling like gangbusters.

Interesting. I played once as waitress and once as a customer. Interesting. I guess?

That was surprisingly fun. Both the customer and I stayed in character for most of it.

What I’m really interested in is what this guy is going to do with all the data he’s generating. One approach I could imagine would be to normalize some set of verbalizations into clusters, and then link that to different levels of likely responses. You then get all sorts of responses that are ‘real’, based on the input given.

Perhaps you could even have a time dimension to the data, which would capture more of the mood of the conversations (ie: if the last two responses were insults, the 3rd is more likely to be.)

I’d love to know what this person is doing, as this sort of manipulation/analysis is something I’m really interested in (my current project is to normalize genomic data for whole genome scans.) Data driven AI development for games may be a real, interesting step forward.

I’d imagine if you did something like this for first person shooters, you could gather a lot of data by recording deathmatches in games. Imagine playing a beta of a single player game where some people are players, and some people are the ‘enemies’, and you let the combat unfold in a set piece. You could see different strategies taken by both sides, and add those strategies into the engine as different options or randomizations. It would be really cool to see it done in a more open ended game like FarCry, where there are many fewer restrictions on how players interact with the enviornment.

Since I work only a few buildings down from the media lab, I may have to hunt this guy down…:)

Heh, I work in the Media Lab, and I remember overhearing some grad students discussing this. Maybe I’ll poke my nose into their conversation at the next luncheon.

This is fascinating. I’ve only done it twice so far, both as a customer, but both of my waitresses have been very polite and accomodating. The first one was ‘new’ to the job and would have gotten a smaller tip due to some rookie mistakes, but the second one was perfect.

This is a lot of fun. My turn to be the staff.

Okay, after a half dozen plays, finding that you can pick up many objects, like garbage cans and microwave ovens, makes for some silly entertainment.

I enjoyed stacking the dishes into a 3m high pile. The waitress complimented me on my skill :D

I worked with a customer to get ourselves up onto the roof via a stack of dishes, bottles, vases microwaves and fruit bowls. Great fun.

So I wanted to contribute to this project, but of course the first customer I has no intention of doing anything productive. He just wants to spend the next hour making a lobster tower. <sigh>
I feel bad when people try to do something productive and people are just out to mess it up.

Previously I had a good experience being a customer myself.

<<edit>>

Just played some more. I hope the lab is getting good data. I’m enjoying role-playing this out.