Computer game sorts your life out

A computer game that is supposed to help improve decision-making skills in all aspects of our lives has been developed.

Boffins at Queen’s University Belfast have created a prototype game that they reckon could be enhanced by commercial games manufacturers and turned into an e-learning or training tool for professionals in all walks of life - and for the general public too.

The team supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), explored whether people can be trained to make better decisions by improving their ability to recognise and make allowances for their subjective opinions and biases, and to ‘factor in’ accurately their uncertainty over a decision’s likely outcome.

The prototype game, called World of Uncertainty, and available here, seeks to teach people to learn from experience when faced with simple choices.

To maximise your chances of reaching a good decision, you need to take into account all information available to you at a given point, the would-be developers say. But you also have to factor in how you tend to interpret such information, based on previous experience.

“It’s the first ever online quiz designed to let people estimate how sure they are of their answers and score more highly if they don’t ignore their uncertainty but realistically assess it,” says Dr David Newman, who has led the project.

“Whether the choices facing us are simple or complex, a greater awareness of uncertainty and of our own biases can improve the quality of our decision-making. We believe there’s real potential for people to acquire that awareness through computer games.”

The developers reckon games of this type could be used for both educational and entertainment purposes by public and private sector decision-makers and by individuals in order to enhance their decision-making abilities.

World of Uncertainty is a four-year initiative that has received EPSRC funding of just under £269,000.

We're not sure whether the outfit funding the operation really knew what it was doing, or just took a punt.