Showcased in last week's session "Playing Medical Minecraft with IBM Watson" at the Games For Change Festival, Medical Minecraft is more than just a student mod of Minecraft transformed into a first-person shooter with disease enemies like malaria. Players get a strong ally in the form of a NPC powered by IBM Watson. IBM Watson is the computer system known mostly for beating its human competitors on "Jeopardy!"
|IBM Watson By Clockready via Wikimedia Commons|
In Medical Minecraft, players can quell their curiosity about various diseases. IBM Watson playing the knowledgeable mentor character answers the questions not by doing a massive brute force search of the Internet, but by relying on its training in determining what is the most likely answer. Moreover, players do not have to confine themselves to certain phrases or words as in previous computer games. They can carry on a Q&A conversation with IBM Watson. It isn't like the classic game ELIZA at all, where the computer played a psychotherapist and tended to repeat words back to the player.
Sande Chen is a writer and game designer whose work has spanned 10 years in the industry. Her credits include 1999 IGF winner Terminus, 2007 PC RPG of the Year The Witcher, and Wizard 101. She is one of the founding members of the IGDA Game Design SIG.