Games for your mind

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game-theoryGames theory is a disciple that studies the problem of the interdependence between the players of the same game.
The behaviour analysis of game players is called strategic interaction and is used in Business studies to understand complex aspects of some kinds of markets and to build descriptive models based on subjects’ behaviours in uncertain situations.
For example, the famous “prisoner’s dilemma” is one of the main problems in game theory and is used to explain the reasons of a certain player’s choice rather than another one.
Originally developed by Merrill Flood e Melvin Dresher, the prisoner’s dilemma is based on the following riddle:

Two men are arrested by the cops, but they don’t have sufficient evidence to incriminate them:
for this reason, the cops decide to lock the two prisoners in different rooms and visit them separately to make a deal.

  1. If one of them testifies (defects) against the other he will obtain the liberty and his crime partner will be sentenced to 10 year in jail.
  2. If both remain silent, the will convicted to six months jail sentence.
  3. If each betrays the other both of them will receive a five year jail sentence.

So prisoners have to choose if betray the other or remain silent with the reassurance that nobody will ever know that he betrayed his partner before the end of the trial.
Now the fundamental question is: how should the prisoners act?
The game theory explains this dilemma with the help of Pareto optimality, a concept developed by the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto who studied the economic efficiency.
The best choice for both the prisoners is to play in accord with the dominant strategy and confess their crime.  This is the only way to contain the damages and the risks of be betrayed first by the other, minimizing the risk of a 10years jail sentences.
This interesting slide is a good introduction to the game theory study.

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Sudoku-puzzleThe Sudoku puzzle is a logic and number based brain teaser. Sudoku puzzle was nicknamed the Rubic’s cube of the 20th century because to solve it you don’t need to be a math genius, but you will need just a lot of logic and, above all, so much patience.
Is a common belief that the Sudoku puzzle was bron in Japan in 1984, but, actually, this brain teaser has its roots deeply related to the ancient “Latin’s cubes” created in the eighteenth century by the Swiss mathematician Euler.
After two centuries, in the seventies, the Sudoku puzzle was recovered by few math and brain teasers lovers.
In the eighties the Sudoku game became very popular in Japan and in a meanwhile it the Sudoku mania spread all over the world.
In fact, at the end of the seventies on the magazine “Math puzzles and logic problems”, Dell New York publishing proposed “number place”: A brain teaser based on compositions rules of the Latin’s cubes.
The aim of the Sudoku puzzle is to fill with numbers from 1 to 9 the 9×9 grid, divided to 3×3 sub grids called “regions”.
Some of the grid cells of the Sudoku puzzle are already filled with numbers, the payer must fill the other empty cells to solve the puzzle respecting the following rules:

  • Number can appear only once on each row;
  • Number can appear only once on each column.

This brain teasers was proposed in Japan in 1984 on the Monthly Nikolist magazine with the name of Sunji Wa Dokushin Ni kagiru wich means only single numbers. This long name was soon changed in Su(numbers) and doku(single).
The modern Sudoku puzzle as we all know it was born.
In the 12 November 2004, the English Times of London published the first Sudoku puzzle for the frist time in UK,  since then this brain teaser became widely popular all over the world and now is published on magazines and newspapers of more than 20 nations.
Now that you know everything about the Sudoku, try to solve this famous brain teaser, starting with the one in this article or trying this new web Sudoku generator.

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Pubs_gamesIn the United Kingdom we have about 60.000 pubs,  some of them with a long history and tradition. Since old times people always played games in the pubs,  between a drink and another, English people always find Some time to play traditional pubs games such as darts, board games, quizzes, mind games, card games, role games etc.
Probably is  for this reason that United Kingndom has a great history of gaming and was one of the first nations in the world to develop and create modern board games as we all know today.
some traditional pub games have been lost during the years, but some others  became worldwide famous and they’re still played  and loved by the new generations.  Dominos, skittles, table football, pub quiz games, those are the evergreen games still played around in all Great Britain’s pubs.
Played_at_ the_ pub_bookIf you want to learn more about this narrow and fascinating history, there’s an interesting book written by Arthur Taylor called “Played at the Pub: The Pub Games of Britain”, in which the author retrace all the most important stories and anecdotes related to pubs games, with images, narrations and attestations.
After reading this book next time  we go to our favorite pub we can explain ,during  a gaming,  contest to our friends all the real story of the most famous pubs games!

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Modern board games are thought and developed to improve or brain skills and mind activities:
other than fun enjoinment and pleasure, those clever games are one of the best way to learn about our history, literacy, to develop a goal motivation and general knowledge, to build a
Intuitively thought, to take risks and forecast the consequences, to take rewards or accept defeats.
This smart presentation shows what board games could do for the 21st  century education.

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old_train_toyToys are cultural products  with a long history, they survived to all cultural changes of our society and to the aggressive newcomers in the leisure industry, such as video games, Internet, board games etc.
But if is true, like Friedrich Schiller sad that: “Man only plays when in the full meaning of the word he is a man, and he is only completely a man when he plays; learning, remembering and analyzing toy’s history, let us appreciate the culture and the daily lifestyles of past families”.

In all historical age, toys had always a precise function:
For young boys some toys exalted the winner role of certain action and position synonymous of virility;  for girls some toys were developed to teach young females to family life, to began  good wives and mothers.
But in the past few families could afford to buy toys for their sons, and kids had to work with their fantasy and invent toys and games with few simple material, such as wood, nails, paper and  fabric.

From those children’s fantasies start the first incredible playing ideas and great toys inventions, like the first miniature railway made in Sweden in 1916 with matches, nails and wood.

With the Enlightenment and positivism even toys and childhood games began to be influenced by science:
John Locke, English philosopher and pedagogue, underlined in his studies the vital importance of the child to learn how to face his life with games and toys, Rousseau see the game as a way to better understand the children. In this period toys began commercial products, and the new toys market  start to move his first step in the new Europe.

old_doll_toyGermany was one of the first nation to develop a modern toys craftsmanship;  in 1973 Besterlmeier merchants of Nuremberg traded their toys in all Europe. In that period Nuremberg was the world capital of toys, especially for dolls, in the toys’ shop catalogue a customer could find more than 10.000 products.

In 1850 is the toy golden age, because these objects are now considered not only as children amusement object, but as pedagogic and educational products, and the consecration of this new conceptions is the opening of the first “children museum” in Brooklyn in1899:
In the first years on 1900 in England, France and Germany, the toy already was a cultural mass product, for all social classes and families, toys are synonymous of modernity and of the manifestation of the real “Esprit du Temp”. Fashion and mechanical invention made the new toys more and more objects of desire for children all over the world, in this period new projects and designers, made great products such as planes, toy trains, puzzles, car miniatures.

In the 20th century the two world wars stopped this positive trend in toys industry and factory instead of toys produced weapons and
military equipments.

After the 1950, with the discover of new materials, like plastic, toys started to follow the success of comic books, movies and sports: everything famous character has a toy version to celebrate his success, in this period toys like Spider man, Superman, car pilots, and sport players miniatures appeared on the world stage.

Toy will always be part of our life, because as McLuhan sad: “world children confraternity is the only wild tribe with no signs of extinction”.

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kids playingIs in the early childhood that a kid start to discover is capabilities and all the brand new world around him; someone called this the “why period” because the endless curiosity of a child is always dedicated to ask questions to his parents even on deep arguments and sometimes the genitor doesn’t know how to explain such difficult arguments to his 6 year old son.
Childhood is a crucial stage in the development of personality, because the kid is like a “tabula rasa”, and parents and teachers have to do their best to built mental contents and find the best ways to develop the kid’s knowledge whit shaping experiences in order to stimulate and favour their mental activity.
As Giovanni Pascoli, one of the greatest Italian writer and poet of the last century, suggest in his “poetica del fanciullino” (young boy poetics) poets and writer must should approach the world like kids do.
Pascoli, influenced by James Sully studies on children’s psychology, developed an approach to writing with “kids eyes”, in order to look all things with amazement and wonder.
Kids had this great attitude to approach the world whit surprise even for those little insignificant things object and basics phenomenon of knowledge that adults take for granted because they have experienced those many time in their life. When we grow up, and we left behind us childhood, we lose this “wonder attitude” for ordinary things because we tend to see things trough our ratio and direct experience.
Probably that’s one of the principal reasons why childhood is the most incredible and happy period of our life:
imagine how could be for a children of five year look at a train for the first time, maybe he can’t understand the train function at first sight, because is difficult for him find the logical cause-effects links without a previous experience; so his fantasy start to run and this mysterious and massive moving object appears like something magic to his pure eyes. All this guesses, fantasies and mental activities are unthinkable for an adult who knows exactly what is a train and what it’s for; a man could make all the rational thoughts on the train, could know all the mechanics and the complex aspects of the locomotive could even know how to drive a train, the only think he can’t do is looking at the train with “Child’s Eyes”.
That’s because adults normally use their rational part to approach things and thoughts, and tend  to repress their fantasy especially for well known things and routinely activities.
For the kids every new experience is an adventure, a tale, and often, the most common and ordinary objects became games in the hand of a child : a stick could be a sword, a broom handle a horse, a salad bowl put on the head a shining beaver and the home back garden an incredible war field.   Fantasy of kids has not limits and boundaries, adult rationality is circumscribed, well defined and most of the times shaped on direct experience.
like Peter Pan, adults should listen sometimes the little child inside them.

The spontaneous game is the most important aspects of a child life, and parents must always encourage their little sons to play.
Some educational board games like brain boxes were developed to let the kids learn new things, stimulate their fantasy, and improve their memory.
These games are great educational tools, especially if played by father (or mother) and child (or daughter).
I know you’re busy with your works and daily problems, but remember this simple truth:
a good genitor can alway find some time to play with his son.

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radha-krishna_chessAll modern studies on chess genealogy agree that we can find the origins of chess in ancient India, when, in an indeterminate period around the 6th century during the Gupta Empire, the game called Chaturanga, was invented.
Chaturanga, literally means “the game of the four armies” and after its rapid diffusion in India and Persia during the 7th century, the game reached late medieval Europe and was transformed in the modern game of chess in the 15 century.
The “four armies” of Chaturanga are made of pieces similar to chess displayed on an 8×8 uncheckered board. The original and older version of this board game was called Chaturaji (“four kings”) , it’s for four players and each player has a Raja (King), a Yaanei (Elephant = Bishop), Iratham (Chariot = Rook), and ‘Kutharei (Horse= Knight ) And four Padàti (Foot-soldiers = Pawns); probably that’s why in modern chess have eight Pawns and two of each rook, knight and bishop.
The word rook of chess, for example, comes from Persian rokh which means chariot, and that’s how the Chaturanga’s piece was called in ancient Persia, this explains also why the rook in chess can move only on its horizontal axis or on his vertical axis because the chariot has the wheels and can’t jump or move in diagonal. The bishop of chess comes from the Elephant that in Chaturanga moves only two squares per time and the queen wasn’t a special piece like in modern chess, it only could move one square per time in order to protect the king.
Despite its old age Chaturanga is still played around the world especially in India and in the Middle East.

chaturanga

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