Microsoft launches a second Facebook social game

Microsoft Research has fielded its second Facebook game aimed at helping to understand users' behavior in social-networking situations.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

In September 2011, Microsoft Research has launched its first Facebook game, known as Project Waterloo, part of its strategy to create  a launchpad for a platform for behavioral game theory on social networking sites.

Last week, Microsoft researchers launched their second Facebook game, Doubloon Dash.

From a January 27 post on the "Inside Microsoft Research" blog:

“'This game models situations like job interviews, patent races, or competitions,' explains (Thore) Graepel, a principal researcher with the Machine Learning and Perception group at the U.K. lab. 'In all of these cases, people are effectively playing an all-pay auction where everyone loses their bid but only one player gets the reward.'"

The ultimate goal of the newest game from the Research Games project is "to test the behavior of real people in game-theoretic interactions, particularly those that occur in social networks."

The Softies have been focused since last year on building a “Facebook Game Theory Lab,” according to the Research site. The researchers behind it are hoping to capitalize on Facebook’s viral-marketing mechanisms so as to be able to observe a large study base and to analyze better the “playing field” of the social graph. “The artificial ‘lab setting’ of traditional experiments in behavioural game theory is replaced by the natural social habitat of the subjects, their circle of friends,” the Microsoft Research UK page notes.

The Research Games project is just one of a number of social-gaming-focused projects in which different Microsoft teams across the world are engaged.

In related news, Microsoft recently updated the code for its Windows Azure Toolkit for Social Games. The 1.2.2 update doesn't include any new features, but is considered to be a "stable" release.

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