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New Scientist

MIT researchers used tools of computational complexity and mathematical concepts to prove that no analysis of the Super Mario Bros video game level “can say for sure whether or not it can ever be completed,” reports Matthew Sparkes for New Scientist. “The idea is that you’ll be able to solve this Mario level only if this particular computation will terminate, and we know that there’s no way to determine that, and so there’s no way to determine whether you can solve the level,” says Prof. Erik Demaine. 

Popular Science

Prof. Lindley Winslow speaks with Popular Science reporter Shannon Liao about how the new video game, “The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom,” uses physics to help make the game more engaging. “The power comes from the fact that the physics are correct until it is fantastical,” says Winslow. “This allows us to immerse ourselves in the world and believe in the fantastical.”

Fortune

Researchers from MIT and other institutions have found that an AI system called KataGo can be consistently tricked into losing at the strategy game of Go, reports Jeremy Kahn for Fortune. This research highlights potential similar vulnerabilities in “other AI systems trained in a similar manner,” writes Kahn.

Forbes

Researchers at MIT have found that “Salet” is the best starting word for Wordle, reports Erik Kain for Forbes. “The algorithm that MIT used solved—on average—Wordle’s puzzles with just 3.421 guesses, which they determined was better than audio or crane,” writes Kain. “And salet performed 1% better than Wordle Bot’s recent best word, slate, despite having the same letters.”

CNBC

MIT researchers have found that “Salet” is statistically the best starting word for Wordle, reports Nicolas Vega for CNBC. “If you play Salet and you play intelligently you can assuredly win the game within five guesses,” says graduate student Alexander Paskov. “You don’t even need that last guess.”

The Washington Post

Laila Shabir ’10 speaks with Washington Post reporters Jonathan Lee and Marlena Sloss about how the subtle cultural reinforcement of gender roles inspired her to found Girls Make Games, a summer camp where girls and nonbinary children learn the basics of video game development. “It makes sense that kids are attracted to video games because everything that games represent, kids are into,” Shabir said. “If we want to reach people, if we want to make a difference, I think video games have a massive societal influence and we should be tapping into that collectively. Not just on an individual level but as a society and as an employer.”

Popular Science

Lecturer Mikael Jakobsson, Rosa Colón Guerra (a resident at MIT’s Visiting Artists program), and graduate student Aziria Rodríguez Arce have created a new board game, called Promesa, that more accurately reflects the reality of Puerto Rico’s history and people, reports Maria Parazo Rose for Popular Science. “The game is based on the real-life PROMESA act, which was established by the US government in 2016 in response to the island’s debt crisis, putting American lawmakers in charge of the country’s finances,” explains Rose. “To win, you must settle Puerto Rico’s bills and build up the country’s infrastructure, education, and social services.” 

The Boston Globe

Alumni Carter Huffman ’14 and Mike Pappas ’14 co-founded Modulate, an artificial intelligence technology that helps differentiate between friendly banter and inappropriate outbursts in video game voice chats, reports Scott Kirsner for The Boston Globe.  “Modulate highlights for a game’s human moderators the most severe violations of the game’s guidelines and allows them to decide on the consequences after they examine the situation,” writes Kirsner. “They may send the player a warning, mute them temporarily, or ban them from the game.”

Fast Company

Craig Ferguson, a full stack developer at the MIT Media Lab, has developed a mobile mental health game, dubbed Paradise Island, that sends users on real-life missions in exchange for rewards and is based on a type of therapy called behavioral  activation, reports Elissaveta Brandon for Fast Company. “One of the goals behind the app is to teach people a lesson, to help them build skills and resilience,” Ferguson says. “If you do this enough, that reflection step is to make people realize ‘When I was feeling bad, I really didn’t think running would help, but it did,’ and remember that.”

Mashable

MIT scientists have created a new tool that can improve robotic wearables, reports Danica D’Souza for Mashable. “The tool provides a pipeline for digital creating pneumatic actuators – devices that power motion with compressed air in many wearables and robotics,” writes D’Souza.

TechCrunch

CSAIL researchers have developed a robotic glove that utilizes pneumatic actuation to serve as an assistive wearable, reports Brian Heater for TechCrunch. “Soft pneumatic actuators are intrinsically compliant and flexible, and combined with intelligent materials, have become the backbone of many robots and assistive technologies – and rapid fabrication with our design tool can hopefully increase ease and ubiquity,” says graduate student Yiyue Luo.

Newsweek

Researchers from MIT and the Berklee College of Music “have started a blockchain platform called RAIDAR, designed to help musicians connect with potential clients (perhaps filmmakers or video game designers who need theme music) and get paid for their work without losing ownership,” reports Newsweek.

Fast Company

“The Guardians: Unite the Realms,” a video game developed by Media Lab developer Craig Ferguson, has been awarded Fast Company’s 20201 Innovation by Design award in the Wellness category. The game employs behavioral activation techniques to address mental health, allowing players to advance when they’ve completed tasks such as going on a walk or drawing a picture.