Why are games fun? In part, because they challenge our ability to think. Even simple games like Tic-Tac-Toe, Nim and Kalah, or puzzles like the Eights Puzzle, are challenging to children. More complex games like checkers, chess, bridge, and Go are difficult enough that it takes years for gifted adults to master them. Nearly all games require seeing patterns, making plans, searching combinations, judging alternative moves, and learning from experience, all being skills which are also involved in many daily tasks.
It's no surprise that Alan Turing proposed chess playing as a good project for studying computers' ability to reason. In many ways, games have provided simple proving grounds for many of AI's powerful ideas.
In the food industry, it seems, the robot revolution is well underway, with machines mastering skilled tasks that have always been performed by people. In Boston, robots have replaced chefs and are creating complex bowls of food for customers. In Prague, machines are displacing bartenders and servers using an app. Robots are even making the perfect loaf of bread these days, taking charge of an art that has remained in human hands for thousands of years. Now comes Briggo, a company that has created a fully automated, robotic brewing machine that can push out 100 cups of coffee in a single hour -- equaling the output of three to four baristas, according to the company.
It's Friday, which means it's once again time for Replay, WIRED's look at the world of gaming. Since nearly everyone involved in the videogame industry spent the week at the Game Developers Conference discussing the future and reflecting on the past, a lot of news came out of that annual gathering. But a lot of news came from elsewhere too. Well, there are awards, a new title to look forward to, and an old conflict finally (almost) coming to an end. Earlier this week at the Game Developers Conference, the Independent Gaming Festival held its yearly awards ceremony, honoring the best and most exciting works in the indie gaming sphere.
Every so often I get the urge to travel to the Caverns of Time dungeon in World of Warcraft and behold one of the game's rarest creatures. Instead, this once-endangered species is a portly human mage who ambles down shady lanes in the Hillsbrad Foothills. So far as anyone knew, he was the only fat human in the game for at least a decade, and damn if he didn't make a potbelly look good. He carried himself with the poise of a king. He didn't give a flip what you thought of his paunch-friendly shirt.
Sony Santa Monica's God of War has received 10 nominations for this year's Bafta game awards, leading a diverse pack of nominees. Rockstar's Red Dead Redemption 2 also picked up six nominations, as did Florence – a game about a relationship played from the perspective of a young woman – and Return of the Obra Dinn, a lo-fi monochrome mystery set on an abandoned ship. The contenders for best game are Assassin's Creed Odyssey, PlayStation VR game Astro Bot: Rescue Mission, Celeste, God of War, Red Dead Redemption 2 and Return of the Obra Dinn. Last year's winner was What Became of Edith Finch, an emotionally charged magical-realist game about the fate of an ill-fortuned family. The games beyond entertainment category, introduced to recognise games whose impact extends into the real world, comprises Celeste, Aardman Studios' first world war game 11-11 Memories Retold, Life is Strange 2, My Child Lebensborn, and Nintendo Labo.
Just in time for Windows 7 to die, Microsoft is porting DirectX 12 to it -- on a game-by-game basis. The first game to deliver will be World of Warcraft, with others to follow. Microsoft's latest graphics API has actually been around since 2015. But Microsoft typically reserved its latest features for Windows 10, the latest OS that already demands the latest hardware. DirectX 12's support for multithreading, for example, already generates "substantial framerate impriovement," Microsoft says.
Google is turning to the brains behind Assassin's Creed ahead of its gaming debut later this month. Jade Raymond, who clocked in over a decade at Ubisoft, has been appointed vice president by the tech giant. "I'm excited to finally be able to share that I have joined Google as VP!" she tweeted on Tuesday. It's currently unclear what she will work on at the company. I'm excited to finally be able to share that I have joined Google as VP!
Gamers who remain on Windows 7 can now play World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth with the added boost of DirectX 12. Microsoft announced that Blizzard would be the first game developer to offer DirectX 12 support for Windows 7. This will be good news for stubborn Windows 7 users who still haven't upgraded to Windows 10. Thanks to the API's support for multi-threading, players can expect a framerate boost even on the older OS. Microsoft has tried to remain firm on the end of Windows 7's lifecycle, which is scheduled to end in January 2020. Windows 7, first released in winter of 2009, is still a popular desktop OS for many PCs despite no longer being sold on new computers.
A startup called CogitAI has developed a platform that lets companies use reinforcement learning, the technique that gave AlphaGo mastery of the board game Go. Gaining experience: AlphaGo, an AI program developed by DeepMind, taught itself to play Go by practicing. It's practically impossible for a programmer to manually code in the best strategies for winning. Instead, reinforcement learning let the program figure out how to defeat the world's best human players on its own. Drug delivery: Reinforcement learning is still an experimental technology, but it is gaining a foothold in industry.
So how do you categorize a beast like gaming on the PC? With decades of titles to pluck from (and the first port of call for most indie titles, too), there's so much to choose from. Gaming on your PC adds the benefits of (nearly always flawless) backward compatibility and console-beating graphical performance -- if you've got the coin for it. We've tried to be broad with our recommendations here on purpose. There are so many great games out there for your PC, consider these some starting points.
A series of missteps put Microsoft in second place before the Xbox One even came out. While it's likely to remain there until the next generation begins, there are a lot of people out there who have never experienced what the console has to offer. With the Xbox One X having a clear advantage over Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro when it comes to gaming on a 4K TV, there's never been a better time to jump in. While not all the games on this list are Xbox exclusives, every game is at least better on Xbox than PlayStation, provided you're playing on a One X. Studio MDHR's Cuphead is as beautiful as it is challenging -- and it's very beautiful. Half bullet-hell shooter, half platformer, half classic boss rush... wait that's too many halves.