Terror Games

Can computer games be devised to model the thinking and predict the actions of allies, enemies and even terrorists?

The Whole World in his Hands

Political scientist Ian Lustick's computer simulations attempt to predict how global crises will play out.David Barry

Wright at Home

It's hard to separate work from play at Maxis, the California company that developed the human-interaction-based Sims games. In the lunchroom, co-founder Will Wright takes a break from both.Bryce Duffy

by John Macneill

_Amy's neighbors also possess a variety of beliefs and affiliations and display them one at a time. If enough people near Amy are vocal about a certain belief, and if Amy has the potential to hold that belief, then she will be influenced and profess that belief as well. Here she is surrounded by a Democrat, a basketball fan, a Republican, a Christian and four Cowboys fans. Half of Amy's neighbors are passionate about the Cowboys right now, and that exerts an inexorable pull. Since Amy is also a Cowboys fan, she turns her focus away from Republican politics and starts rooting for the Cowboys instead. She is still a Republican, but social pressure has temporarily shelved that facet of her personality. In real-world models, these agents can choose to display any one of up to 15 beliefs._John Macneill

Amy Gets Cowboy Crazy

Each simulation is made up of interacting individuals. This is Amy. She has many beliefs and affiliations, but displays only one at a time. Here she professes her Republican leanings. She's also a Cowboys fan, but football is not on her mind right now.John Macneill

by John Macneill

_Algorithms that predict the spread of ideas follow one simple rule: If many believe it, you likely will too. Revolution Sim
The Calm Before In this model of a semi-authoritarian Middle Eastern state, supporters of the government (red) coexist with Muslim fundamentalists (green), Kurdish-like separatists (pink) and various other factions. The Storm After
A series of violent clashes in Israel and the occupied territories, discontent grows, and the power of the fundamentalists and separatists increases at the expense of government support. The program reveals this by modeling the movement of attitudes and ideas between communities. Dissatisfaction spreads among individuals like a virus._
John Macneill